Thursday, August 16, 2012

Plantation 3 Stars by Cognac Ferrand Launches In September

(News Brief by Shanken News Daily) Cognac Ferrand’s Plantation rum franchise is launching its first white rum, Plantation 3 Stars, in the U.S. this September. Named for three of the Caribbean’s rum producing islands—Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica—Plantation 3 Stars is a blend of three-year-old, carbon-filtered rum from Trinidad, un-aged rums from both Barbados and Jamaica and a 12-year-old Jamaican rum. The 41.2%-abv offering will roll out nationwide, priced at around $24.99 a 1-liter bottle. Last year, Cognac Ferrand reported a U.S. sales volume of 70,000 cases across its Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Cerbois Armagnac, Mathilde liqueurs, Plantation rum, Daron Calvados and Citadelle gin brands.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Seasons 52 Partners With Enrique Iglesias's Atlantico Rum To Debut Two New Signature Cocktails

(News brief by Shanken News Daily) Darden Restaurants-owned Seasons 52 has partnered with music star Enrique Iglesias’s Atlantico rum to debut two new signature cocktails. Throughout the summer, Seasons 52 will offer the Watermelon Refresher using Atlantico Platino, watermelon and agave nectar; and the Strawberry Lemon Euphoria with Atlantico Reserva, fresh strawberries, lemon juice, lemon wedges and mint. Atlantico is a Dominican rum selling for around $35 a bottle. Iglesias became a partner in the brand with founders Brandon Lieb and Aleco Azqueta last fall. Seasons 52 currently operates 23 restaurants in 13 states across the country, with additional restaurants opening in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, California, and Dallas, Texas, this fall.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Louisiana Spirits Expects To Be Up And Running By This Fall

(News Brief by Shanken News Daily) Craft distiller Louisiana Spirits expects to have its new rum distillery up and running by this fall, with rum expected to be available by year-end, according to local press reports. Construction on the company’s $5 million distillery, located in Lacassine in southern Louisiana, began last fall. The site will also include a 12,000-square-foot warehouse and 6,000-square-foot tasting room and visitors center. Initially, Louisiana Spirits will use local sugar and molasses to produce about 200 gallons a day of light and spiced rums, with more products to follow. Company president Trey Litel formerly worked in sales and marketing at Bacardi USA.

Serrallés USA and Death’s Door Spirits Unveil a New 25,000-Square-foot Craft Distillery in Middleton, Wisconsin

(News Brief by Shanken News Daily) Serrallés USA and Death’s Door Spirits have unveiled a new 25,000-square-foot craft distillery in Middleton, Wisconsin. Featuring a 2,000-liter still and six 3,100-gallon fermentation tanks, the state-of-the-art facility will bring Death’s Door’s capacity to 200,000 six-bottle cases. Founded in 2005 on Wisconsin’s Washington Island, Death’s Door inked a long-term, national U.S. distribution and marketing agreement with Serrallés USA—the U.S. unit of Puerto Rico’s Destilería Serrallés—last year. The craft distiller’s portfolio includes its flagship Death’s Door gin, as well as a vodka and white whiskey, all priced between $29.99-$34.99 a bottle. According to Serrallés USA, Death’s Door sold a total of around 16,300 six-bottle cases last year.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Rum Liqueur RumChata Enjoying Fast Start Through Cross-Category Appeal

(by Shanken News Daily) Rum-based cream liqueur RumChata may be a difficult brand to classify, but there’s no ambiguity about its success in the first half of 2012. In the first six months of the year, RumChata shipped more than 1 million bottles (the equivalent of roughly 83,000 cases) in the U.S. market, and its impressive growth trend—17,000 cases sold in calendar 2010 and 64,000 cases sold in 2011—suggests that it may well grow much larger in the near future.

Introduced in 2009, the 13.8%-abv RumChata is a mix of five-times distilled Caribbean rum and Wisconsin dairy cream. It’s produced and bottled by Agave Loco Brands of Pewauwee, Wisconsin, and retails for $19.95 per 750-ml.

While relatively new offerings like RumChata are often strongly reliant on a single region and/or channel, the brand’s early success has been quite diverse. Available in 49 states, RumChata has enjoyed its fastest growth in Wisconsin, Maryland, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska. Until recently, its sales were basically split 50-50 between the on-premise and off-premise channels, although the addition of new sizes and expanded distribution is now skewing the balance towards the off-premise. Recent Nielsen national scan data ranks RumChata among both the U.S. market’s leading rum and cream liqueur brands.

Straddling the rum and cream liqueur segments, RumChata has benefited from a diverse consumer base and has carved out a place in various consumption occasions. The brand’s younger consumers often drink it as a straight shot or mixed in a variety of shooters, while older consumers tend to drink it on the rocks or in their coffee.

RumChata’s versatility has made it increasingly popular among bartenders and mixologists, Agave Loco tells Shanken News Daily, and the brand is also gaining notice via social media outlets like Facebook. A cameo appearance in a 2011 episode of HBO’s “Entourage” has also raised RumChata’s profile. On pace to add roughly 100,000 cases to its volume this year, RumChata certainly appears to be a brand to watch.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Diageo Launches Premixed Cocktails in Frozen Pouches

(News Brief by Shanken News Daily) Diageo has launched new premixed cocktails in frozen pouches under the Parrot Bay and Smirnoff brand names. The new offerings are at 5% abv and retail for $1.99 a 10-ounce pouch. Parrot Bay’s frozen pouch flavors include Strawberry Daiquiri, Mango Daiquiri and Piña Colada, while Smirnoff’s line is comprised of Strawberry Lemonade, Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Cherry Limeade. Diageo suggests freezing the pouches overnight and enjoying them by squeezing into a glass the next day. One key competitor in the segment is Daily’s (American Beverage Corp.), which recently filed a federal trademark lawsuit against Diageo claiming the new Parrot Bay frozen pouches are too similar to the Daily’s design.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Focusing On Aged Rums, Appleton Estate Seeks To Expand Foothold In U.S. Market

(by Shanken News Daily) Appleton Estate rum is rolling out a 50-year-old variant this year in an effort to raise its profile in the U.S. market. The Jamaican rum, which joined the Kobrand portfolio in 2008 (it was previously with Brown-Forman), saw its U.S. volume grow from about 100,000 cases in 2002 to 150,000 cases in 2009, though it’s been flat since then. Owned by J. Wray & Nephew, the brand’s annual global volume is 1.2 million cases.

“The standard rum category is pretty flat in the U.S.,” says Appleton’s master blender Joy Spence. “But the premium category is growing, so we’ll continue to focus on that segment. Our aged rums—the Reserve, 12-year-old and 21-year-old—are the clear priority.”

Spence adds that Appleton’s aged offerings are matured for the minimum number of years stated on the bottle—akin to Scotch whiskies but unlike many other rum brands, some of which use an average age for their statements.

Seeking to further extend its footprint in the age-statement rum category, Appleton introduced a limited-edition 30-year-old two years ago, and this year it’s seeking to burnish its image with a limited-edition 50-year-old, which Spence says is the oldest rum on the market. The Appleton Estate 50-year-old, which is being released in honor of Jamaica’s 50th year of independence, comes in a Glencairn crystal decanter and sells for $5,000 a bottle. Only 60 bottles will make their way to the U.S. (out of global production of 800 bottles), where consumers can find them through an “online white-glove concierge service.”

The Appleton line also includes a V/X level ($18), which is geared toward cocktails. Spence says that while the emphasis remains on the aged rums, which are mainly meant to be sipped, Appleton’s mixology-friendly extensions are playing a key role in building the brand’s presence in the on-premise, another point of focus.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Texas Retail Market Continues To Be Cross-Border Battleground

(by Shanken News Daily) Competition at the Texas retail tier, once a local affair, continues to escalate into an intense statewide battle. Texas is already the biggest state for alcohol sales behind California, and unlike much of the country, it’s in economic expansion mode. State economic trends, along with population gains and liberalized alcohol laws, have enticed retailers to boost their presence dramatically.

Houston-based Spec’s was operating about 100 stores at the start of the year. By July 1, Spec’s is projected to have around 135 units, with more expected later this year. That’s nearly double the 71 stores Spec’s operated at the end of 2010.

“Houston has always been a competitive market,” says John Rydman, owner of Spec’s, pointing to rivalries with grocery chains like Kroger, which markets wine and beer. “The only market that wasn’t particularly competitive was Dallas. It was under a bubble, but now that is changing.”

Local option elections in Dallas in recent years have transformed formerly dry areas into markets where wine and beer, at least, can be sold for off-premise consumption. Those revised selling laws have changed the Dallas retail landscape, as grocery and convenience stores have added beer and wine, while package store operators from other Texas markets—including Spec’s and San Antonio-based Gabriel’s—have entered Dallas.

Ronnie Gabriel, president of the 53-unit Gabriel’s chain, expanded into Dallas last year. “We did it to keep up with the times,” Gabriel said. “You’ve got to watch out for what the future might bring.” Gabriel’s now leases space and manages the liquor department within a newly opened Sam’s Club in Dallas.

Total Wine & More entered Texas in June, opening a store in Dallas, less than a mile from a newly launched Spec’s. Billed as “a new generation concept for the company,” the Total Wine store will have “the largest selection in Dallas,” Total Wine claims. Company president and co-owner David Trone recently told Shanken News Daily that Total Wine is scouting other locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth market, with a new location expected to open in the fall. Total Wine is looking to open stores statewide, targeting metro markets such as San Antonio.

Texas liquor store operators are now bracing for the entry of other major out-of-state players. Trader Joe’s plans four stores in the Dallas metroplex this year, including a location on Hulen Street in Fort Worth that opened June 15. A Trader Joe’s will open in Plano (Preston Road) in early September, followed by two Dallas locations (Greenville Avenue and Preston Hollow Village) in the first quarter of 2013. Trader Joe’s also opened a store in the Houston area (The Woodlands) on June 15 and plans other openings in Houston and San Antonio this year, as well as a launch in San Antonio that’s slated for 2014. All those stores will offer beer and wine.

Meanwhile, Texas continues to liberalize its selling laws. New state laws passed in 2003 and 2005 made it easier for pro-alcohol initiatives to get on the ballot in Texas, creating a surge in statewide local option elections. According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, there were some 545 elections attempting to legalize beverage alcohol sales in some form between 2004 and 2011, with a success rate of 77%. During that period, only two communities have voted to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages. Recent local option elections in May saw Texas voters pass 13 ballot initiatives to allow and/or extend alcohol sales in previously dry or damp Texas cities, representing a 100% passage rate for alcohol initiatives on the ballot.

All those changes have altered the playing field. “The wet-dry line (in Dallas) is now non-existent for beer and wine, and grocery stores have been quick to add wine,” says Eric Sorensen, owner of PK’s Fine Wine & Spirits, which has four locations in the Dallas market.

Austin Keith, owner of the Pinkie’s chain of package stores in western Texas, sympathizes with the likes of Sorensen. A few years ago, the city of Lubbock moved from dry to totally wet for off-premise beverage alcohol sales. With Pinkie’s stores located just outside the Lubbock line, the chain expected a big hit. Rather than stand pat, Keith opened three stores in Lubbock—a move he says has paid off.

As of May, Texas had 46 completely wet counties (allowing sales of beer, wine and spirits on-premise and off)—up from 35 in 2003—and 22 completely dry counties, where no alcohol sales are allowed. The remaining 186 are “damp”—where some alcohol sales are permitted, with limitations.