DATELINE

Bacardi Launches Low-Cal Spirit


MIAMI, FL — Bacardi USA has announced a line of rum-based spirits that feature half the amount of calories contained in traditional spirits and wine. Due to launch nationwide in May, the new Island Breeze line of three flavors — Key Lime, Coconut and Wild Berry — boasts only 48 calories per 1.5-oz. serving, as well as 1.5 grams of carbs per serving.


Made with premium Bacardi rum, the 36 proof Island Breeze is infused with natural fruit flavors and sucralose, a natural-sugar substitute with no caloric content. “Consumers (21+) have asked for a lower-calorie spirit, but they didn’t want to give up great taste. With the advent of sucralose, we have now created a spirit brand with half the calories of traditional spirits and wine with the full flavor and quality that consumers expect from Bacardi,” said Jim Goodwin, senior vice president and general manager of Bacardi-Martini New Product Development.


Island Breeze will retail for approximately $13.99 for a 750 ml bottle.


TTB Establishes Rule For Flavored Malt Beverages

WASHINGTON, DC — After considering more than 16,000 comments filed by the public in relation to creating guidelines for the production of flavored malt beverages (FMBs), the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) of the U.S. Treasury Department has established national standards for these beverages.


Under TTB’s new standard, a majority (at least 51%) of the alcohol in FMBs under 6% alcohol by volume must come from a malt beverage base. The TTB established a 12-month conversion period in recognition of the need for producers of existing products to make investments in new equipment and production processes to adjust to the new standards. The TTB also ruled that alcohol content labeling is required for these malt beverages, though virtually all producers already comply with this regulation.


“We applaud the TTB for its diligent work in analyzing an unprecedented number of public comments, and we believe the final rule is both comprehensive and fair,” said Gregory Altschuh, administrator of the Flavored Malt Beverage Coalition, an organization whose members produce or market the majority of FMBs sold in the U.S. “The category has been an overwhelming success with consumers, and the TTB’s action brings a welcome degree of certainty to the business.”


Starbucks Coffee Liqueur Debuts Nationwide

CHICAGO, IL — Jim Beam Brands and Starbucks Coffee Co. announced the national launch of Starbucks Coffee Liqueur, a 40 proof spirit made with 100% Starbucks Coffee.


Aiming to expand the already large coffee liqueur market in the U.S., the new brand boasts a successful test market phase in both Denver, CO, and Austin, TX. Indeed, research from Starbucks shows that almost half of its customers already consume coffee liqueur and that Starbucks patrons are nine times more likely than the national average to drink a coffee liqueur. “Based on positive feedback from our accounts and consumers in the test markets, we are very excited about the prospects for Starbucks Coffee Liqueur,” said Thomas J. Flocco, president and ceo of Jim Beam Brands Worldwide. “The product demonstrated the potential to gain market share while expanding the cordials and liqueurs category.”


Starbucks has already teamed with the Pepsi-Cola Co. to create the successful bottled Starbucks Frappuccino coffee drink and Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream to introduce Starbucks Coffee Ice Cream.


The new liqueur, which uses rum as its base spirit, is extremely mixable and appropriate for a wide variety of cocktails, the company said. It has an average retail price of $22.99 for a 750 ml bottle, depending on the market, and is also available in 1 liter and 50 ml sizes.


Already the subject of attacks by neo-Prohibitionists, Starbucks Coffee Liqueur will not be available at Starbucks retail stores. It will be available at on- and off-premise licensed beverage alcohol outlets, such as liquor stores, bars and restaurants where spirits are sold.


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“Sideways” Spurs Pinot Noir Sales

SCHAUMBURG, IL — In the Academy Award-nominated movie “Sideways,” a wine snob named Miles (played by actor Paul Giamatti) waxes rhapsodic about pinot noir while dissing the more popular merlot, as he and a friend explore the wineries of California’s Santa Ynez Valley.


Needless to say, the independent film has spawned a cult-like following, boosting tourism in the wine country near Santa Barbara and generating some evidence of increases in pinot noir sales.


According to ACNielsen, while pinot noir sales have been on the rise for several years, the varietal has seen especially strong sales since the movie’s release, on October 22, 2004.


The ACNielsen analysis reveals that pinot noir sales in the U.S. are at record levels, reaching nearly 370,000 9-liter cases for the 12 weeks between October 24, 2004 and January 15, 2005 — up nearly 16% versus the same period a year earlier. Interestingly, it appears that domestic pinot sales are driving the growth, up 33.2% during the period versus 6.9% for imported pinot noir. Last year, both domestic and imported pinot noir sales grew strongly.


Business Briefs

Diageo is simplifying its North American organization and consolidating its spirits operations under the leadership of Larry Schwartz, who has been appointed president, U.S. Spirits effective immediately. Previously, he was president of Key Markets for Diageo North America. “Larry Schwartz is an integral part of Diageo’s executive team and I am confident that he will continue to be an outstanding leader, bringing together our spirits operations into one organization as part of the company’s evolution,” said Ivan Menezes, president and ceo, Diageo North America. Kevin O’Neil, will continue as president, Control States. O’Neil will be directly responsible for managing the relationship with the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA) Board of Directors…. E&J Gallo Winery continued its recent trend of expanding its business by purchasing one more California winery — Barefoot Cellars — for an undisclosed price. The Sonoma County winery is the 25th largest in the U.S., with annual sales of about 500,000 cases…. Allied Domecq Spirits, North America appointed Rob Warren as senior vice president, National Accounts, with responsibility for channel management, on- and off-premise chain accounts and military sales…. Blavod Extreme Spirits signed a long-term agreement to distribute the wines of the L’Illuminata estate, one of the properties of Guido Folonari, in the US. Blavod’s wine portfolio also includes the Italian wines Baroncini, Bruno Rocca, Davide Feresin, Campo Bargello, Franco Terpin, Carron, Germano Ettorea and Corbera….Barton Brands, Ltd., and jstar Brands L.L.C. announced a joint venture: Planet 10 Spirits L.L.C. The new company will develop and market luxury brands, including Effen Vodka, the new venture’s initial offering. “We believe the partnership will create the reach necessary to sell Effen Vodka nationally by fully leveraging Barton Brand’s sales and distribution network,” said Alexander Berk, ceo of Barton Inc., who will be chairman of the new venture… Jose Cuervo International, the global marketing division for Jose Cuervo, recently launched of a new television ad in the U.S. to promote responsible beverage alcohol consumption. The spot, created by the Arnell Group, reminds consumers of the importance of having a designated driver. Entitled “Reverse,” the new ad began airing in December.

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