MRM Imbibe: Top Tap Beers for Football Fans and Billboard Toasts for Friends

MRM Imbibe features beer, wine and spirits news. This column includes Upserve,  Georgós Greek Wine and Robert Davi, Bacardi Limited, The Brewers Association, Louis M. Martini Winery, The Great Oregon Wine Company, Boardroom Spirits and Northbound, The Tutelary Consortium for Prosecco DOC, Whiskies of the World, Empson & Co., The Italian Wine Scholar Guild, Ornellaia, Southern Glazer's, J.P. Wiser's, Wilson Daniels Wholesale, the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, Spoetzl Brewery, Fever-Tree and Patrón Tequila, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, Patrón Tequila, S. Martinelli & Company, 90+ Cellars, Edrington and Wyoming Whiskey, WhistlePig Rye Whiskey, Belvedere Vodka, Powell & Mahoney, Somabar, NTN Buzztime, Inc. and Fetzer.

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Popular Beers on Tap for Football Season

The start of fall is synonymous with college football and beer. This represents a huge sales opportunity for bar and restaurant owners as fans flock to local water holes, but what are people most likely to order while cheering on their favorite teams?

Upserve analyzed millions of transactions from thousands of its restaurants in football college towns to find out, and the results might surprise you.

Among the findings:

Dilly Dilly Dominates Pretty Much Everywhere: Bud Light was the top-selling beer within two conferences, the Big 10 and Southeastern Conference (SEC). Further, Bud Light shows up on the top five highest grossing beers for nearly 40 percent of teams analyzed.

… But Don’t Forget About Miller: Miller beers hold a top-seller stake in every conference except the Big 12 and SEC.

The Big 10 is Crazy for IPA: Rogue 8 Hop IPA and Grey Sail Pour Judgement IPA top out as best sellers in the conference

East Coasters Love Lager: Fans in the Atlantic Coast Conference are slurping down Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Guinness is Big, But Not Where You’d Expect: If you’re banking on Notre Dame, you’re wrong. Alabama, Georgia, and Oregon have a keener taste for the Irish brew.

 Georgós Greek Wine Partners with Robert Davi

 Georgós Greek Wine, a wine company that uses the best of American techniques to handcraft small batch wine in Sonoma Valley from imported Greek fruit, is partnering with Robert Davi, the award-winning actor, screenwriter, director, producer and jazz vocalist, who has appeared in more than 130 films.

Davi and Georgós Greek Wine formed a partnership after Davi purchased a bottle of wine at Whole Foods Market in San Francisco. The bottle happened to be Georgós' "Santorini" wine. After Davi tasted the crisp white varietal, he fell in love instantly and called it, "one of the smoothest damn wines I've ever had." He then dove into the reds and was inspired to connect with Georgós.

Davi will work with the Georgós team as its brand ambassador to broaden its reach by spreading the wine's unique story and to help create more great tasting wines.

"In my family, wine was as necessary a drink as water.  I helped my grandfather make his homemade wine at our family home on Long Island, and have been searching for an opportunity to once again become intimate with the process," Davi said recently, "I've always been a lover of all things Greek – poetry, food, culture, and after tasting all the Georgós blends, it was ordained that I join with them! Robert Rex is a genius at blending wines—rather like a great composer creating a symphony, he blends the notes and tones in these wines creating an experience you will want to go back to time and again. These are truly 'Greek wines redefined.' The wines, sustainable and low in sulfites, are not only healthier but will most likely never give you a headache!"

The partnership between Davi and Georgós Greek Wine comes fresh off the heels of another collaboration between the winemaking team and personalities of note. Earlier this year, in partnership with ultra-marathon living legend and one of Time's "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World," Dean Karnazes, they created MARATHON Wine (

Georgós Greek Wine founder Georgos Zanganas is especially thrilled to work with Davi, as he sees it as a partnership between two parties who are constantly redefining. "One of my favorite movies of all time is James Bond: Licence to Kill.  Robert played a tough guy, and established a great reputation in that archetype," Zanganas says, "now he has the opportunity to show another side of his personality by singing Frank Sinatra classics at some of the greatest venues across the globe.  We have taken the best of the American winemaking techniques and applied them to our imported Greek fruit to change traditional Greek Wine into a super-premium experience – like visiting the Greek Isles in a glass.  This partnership will help us spread Georgós and #GREEKWINEREDEFINED to the world."

Georgós was born after founder Georgos Zanganas moved to San Francisco to work as an engineer.  Zanganas is very sensitive to sulfites in wine, and he struggled to find a wine that did not give him a headache or stop the red flush of his face.  He even found it difficult to come by good quality Greek wine in the area. Surprising, as the US market was saturated with all things Greek – such as yogurt or olive oil – but curiously not wine. He decided to make a wine perfect for him: clean tasting with low sulfites and no additives.  Zanganas discovered Deerfield Ranch Winery in Sonoma Valley (known for their "Clean Wine"), on a trip to Sonoma, where he met winemaker Robert Rex, who was recently named 2018 Winemaker of the year by the American Fine Wine Competition. Together they embarked to make a "clean wine" with imported Greek fruit.  Zanganas and Rex spent one year, tasting over 400 samples until they found the perfect recipe to create Georgós Super-Premium Greek wine, which is fruit forward with soft tannins. The rest, as they say, is history.

Zanganas added on the company's journey, "I never thought that I would be in the wine business, but I wanted everyone to be able to drink a great quality wine without experiencing a headache.  I also found the opportunity to make Greek wine in the heart of the US winemaking region an irresistible challenge.  It's like importing and making California olive oil in Kalamata, Greece – to succeed you have to believe in it with passion."

Currently, Georgós has seven, small batch super-premium Greek wines to market, available direct from the winery online, at Whole Foods in Northern California, and at fine restaurants and hotels in San Francisco and Los Angeles:

  • Santorini, "Sophia's Smile": a 2017 Assyrtiko similar to a dry, crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Mykonos, "Wine of Hercules": a 2013 vintage Agiorgitiko in the Pinot Noir style.
  • Corfu, "Siren's Lure": a 2015 Bordeaux style red blend.
  • Ios, "Aphrodite's Kiss": a 2017 Dry Rosé of Agiorgitiko grapes.
  • Ithaka, "Penelope's Spell": a 2015 blend of premium Greek Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Marathon, "Athena's Vineyard": a 2017 Assyrtiko blend similar to a dry Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Marathon, "Nike's Vineyard": a 2017 Rosé with the structure of a Pinot Noir.
Bacardi's Sustainable Future

Bacardi Limited announced the compilation of results of its environmental sustainability goals made in 2014 and expanded its "Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future" environmental initiative to now encompass the company's entire Corporate Responsibility (CR) platform.

With the expansion, the Good Spirited platform now comprises Marketplace, which includes responsible marketing and responsible drinking, Philanthropy & Community Investment, People, as well as the initial focus areas of Responsible Sourcing and Environment. This commitment aligns family-owned Bacardi's CR platform with most of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

(PRNewsfoto/Bacardi Limited)

Announced in early 2014, Good Spirited was an ambitious environmental sustainability initiative with specific goals in sourcing, packaging, and operations to be achieved by 2017 and 2022 — under the vision to return to the environment at least as much as we take away. Significant reductions have been achieved in greenhouse gas emission (GHG) intensity (59 percent) and water usage (50 percent), as well as Zero Waste to Landfill targets. In addition, the original sourcing goal to obtain 40 percent of sustainably sourced sugarcane-derived products used to make BACARDΔΊ® rums were not only achieved but more than doubled.

"Every Bacardi employee should take pride in what we have achieved to make the world a better, more sustainable place," adds Jean-Marc Lambert, senior vice president – Global Operations, for Bacardi. "While we are pleased with our almost 60 percent reduction in GHG intensity and 50 percent reduction in water usage, we're not stopping here—we're working to achieve a net-zero impact throughout the value chain of our world-class brands. Our goal remains to return to the environment at least as much as we take away."

Environmental Sustainability Achievements

Key achievements include:

GHG Emissions: Bacardi cut GHG intensity from manufacturing operations in half more than a year earlier than its 2017 target. At the end of December 2017, the reduction was at 59 percent, compared to 2006 baseline. This reduction is equivalent to taking 15,000 cars off the road each year or reducing oil use by 165,000 barrels annually. Hundreds of initiatives implemented globally at Bacardi distilleries, bottling lines, visitor centers, and offices for energy reduction were part of achieving this reduction. Among the many energy-focused initiatives, Bacardi focused on renewable energy from biogas, heat recovery systems, and wind turbines. Additionally, new biomass boilers installed at the Tequila CAZADORES® facility in Mexico and ABERFELDY® and ROYAL BRACKLA® Scotch whisky distilleries in Scotland reduced the amount of fuel needed for reliable, cleaner energy. Instead of oil, renewable organic material such as botanicals, wood pellets, wood chips, and agave fibers leftover from production was used as fuel for the biomass boilers. Green electricity — including hydro, solar, and wind — contracts in the United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany were also important tools to reduce the carbon footprint.

Water Usage: The 50 percent reduction of water use target by the end of December 2017 compared to the 2006 baseline was achieved. A combined effort by more than 25 manufacturing sites was fundamental to reach this milestone. From water reduction initiatives to water reuse, projects were implemented across operations to ensure better efficiency on the way each drop is used. (Note: a revision was made in 2016 from 55 percent to 50 percent to focus on the more environmentally effective "consumptive" water use reduction, which measures water that is not returned to the original water source.)

Waste: A target of achieving Zero Waste to Landfill from manufacturing sites by 2022 was also set in 2014. As of the end of December 2017, 99.8 percent of the waste generated from Bacardi operations was diverted from landfills (only 0.2 percent sent to landfill), with one-third of sites already achieving Zero Waste to Landfill status. Further initiatives focusing on reduction, reuse, and recycling are in place for the remaining sites to achieve this status by 2022.

Packaging: Despite efforts to reduce GHG through glass weight reduction, Bacardi was not able to meet the 10 percent packaging reduction goal between 2008 and 2017. As of the end of December 2017, the reduction was at 4 percent. This missed target was mainly driven by two factors: new packaging design implications and a refocus to overall GHG impact instead of only weight reduction. For example, Bacardi identified contributors to GHG beyond glass weight, including furnace efficiency and transportation logistics. This learning has been key in developing new goals that focus on supplier collaboration and glass weight reduction, including production efficiency, recycled content, weight, and transportation.

Sourcing: Sugarcane-derived products are the most significant agricultural supply, and Bacardi works with suppliers and industry groups to ensure all suppliers achieve certification to the Bonsucro standard covering human rights and labor conditions, biodiversity, environmental, and economic viability of sugarcane producers. As of the end of 2017, 86.3 percent of sugarcane-derived products used to make BACARDÍ rums were sourced from Bonsucro-certified suppliers, well ahead of the original 2017 target of 40 percent.

Moving Forward

Building on these achievements, Bacardi is evolving its strategy by committing to new, more encompassing Good Spirited goals globally, aligning with relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reinforcing the impact the private sector can make, often through partnerships, on many of the goals. These new global goals will progress to support future corporate and commercial strategies.

Five Global Goals Align with 10 SDGs

To support 10 of the UN SDGs that Bacardi can impact, the company has set five new goals with multiple corresponding targets with an end date of 2025. The new Good Spirited global goals build on past successes and look holistically at the value chain. When setting these goals, Bacardi looked to international standards and benchmarks to ensure the targets were ambitious and meaningful.

1. Support the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol (UN SDG #3)

Increase support of responsible drinking initiatives and partnerships in the top 80 percent of Bacardi markets

Carry responsible drinking messaging and website designation on 100 percent of brand labels

Make available to the consumer nutrition information for all brands

Lead efforts, along with other industry members and partners, to put in place measures and standards to ensure digital marketing messages are targeted to adults of legal drinking age only

2. Care for and support our people, and reflect the diversity of our global operations (UN SDGs #5, #8)

Less than one Lost Time Accident per 1,000,000 worked hours (previously set to achieve by 2023)

Support equal opportunity and leadership for women at all levels by having at least 45 percent of a female workforce and an increase in women in leadership positions

90 percent of employees participate in training and development programs

3. Return to the environment at least as much as we take away (UN SDGs #6, #7, #12, #13, #14)

25 percent reduction of water consumed (focusing on water not returned to original source) at our operations*

50 percent replenishment of water incorporated into final product*

Reduce absolute Scope 1 & 2 GHG emissions 50 percent and reduce absolute value chain GHG emissions (scopes 1, 2 and 3) 20 percent (approved by Science Based Targets)*

Zero Waste to Landfill at all manufacturing sites (previously set to achieve by 2022)

Eliminate one billion single-use plastic straws in collaboration with others (by 2020)

Analyze and develop single-use plastic reduction across operations and supply chain 
*As compared to 2015 baseline (using earliest reliable data available)

4. Source our materials responsibly (UN SDGs #8, #12, #15)

100 percent of key raw materials sourced from sustainably-certified suppliers

100 percent paper and board used for shipping and labels sustainably certified

100 percent of product packaging to be recyclable

40 percent recycled content of product packaging materials

5. Take care of our communities (UN SDG #17)

95 percent of Bacardi offices and manufacturing sites to participate in at least one CR employee engagement activity in partnership with local organizations

90 percent of employees to volunteer one work day to a personal cause or organization

"Since our founding in 1862, Bacardi has been built with a sense of being Fearless, with a Founders Mentality of running the business, coupled with Family and heritage at its core," said Rick Wilson, senior vice president of Corporate Responsibility at Bacardi. "Moving forward, these values will guide our continued commitment to be a responsible business by empowering our employees to question, challenge, and innovate the way we work and always be Good Spirited. We want them to see the organization as if it was their own, to do what's right for the business, take accountability for their work, and to treat each other and our communities like family."

'That’s Independence You’re Tasting.'

To educate beer lovers about the craft brewing community and what it means to be independent, the Brewers Association—the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent craft brewers—is launching a new national awareness campaign, “That’s Independence You’re Tasting.” This integrated advertising campaign is part of the Brewers Association’s ongoing efforts to distinguish and promote America’s small and independent craft brewers. The videos will be presented across a variety of media platforms.

“That’s Independence You’re Tasting” takes a proud and positive tone, focusing on independence and choice—both key tenets of craft brewing culture—and tells the story of the country’s more than 6,600 independent craft brewers. These hard-working women and men are entrepreneurs, innovators, collaborators, risk takers and underdogs who advance the beverage of beer.

“Independent craft brewers are a success story for American industry,” said Bob Pease, president & CEO, Brewers Association. “Each of the over 6,600 U.S. craft breweries is a unique contributor to its community and should be celebrated. As a national campaign, ‘That’s Independence You’re Tasting’ generates awareness beyond any one individual brewery or beer and touches the spirit of independence that is a core American value. We are proud to be able to do for all our BA members what would be extremely difficult for them to do individually. Together we are united in independence.”

The initial phase of the awareness campaign launched in June 2017 with the introduction of the independent craft brewer seal. Featuring an iconic beer bottle shape flipped upside down, the seal indicates that a brewery is certified to be independently owned. The seal has been adopted by more than 3,700 craft brewing companies—representing more than 80 percent of the volume of craft brewed beer.

“‘That’s Independence You’re Tasting’ is designed to keep independent craft brewers and their beers top of mind. Our hope is that after being exposed to these stories, beer lovers are moved to support independent breweries and seek the seal when making their beer purchases," added Pease. “By choosing a beer that has the independent craft brewer seal, the beer drinker knows that they are supporting a brewery with ties to the community.”

Louis M. Martini Winery Restoration

Louis M. Martini Winery, a cornerstone of Napa Valleyand one of its founding wineries at the end of Prohibition, announces the restoration of the historic winery. The scheduled opening is March 2019.

Howard Backen of Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects was selected to carefully restore the original winery, and infuse it with a timeless design. "Howard Backen's vision celebrates the historic 1933 winery building and seeks to preserve its unique structural elements," says Matt Gallo, Vice President, Coastal Operations.

Backen, who was named one of the top 100 architects and designers in the world by Architectural Digest, sought to remove the non-historic additions made throughout the 85-year-old building's history and meticulously restore it to its original form.

An atrium draws guests into the building's open floorplan, seamlessly integrating indoors and out. The building includes 30-foot-high glass walls with views into the barrel cellar, a demonstration dining room, an underground cellar with private wine libraries and a range of immersive Cabernet Sauvignon experiences. The design showcases reclaimed materials, including the original terra cotta wall tiles, juxtaposed against contemporary materials.

The expansive Martini Park features a beautiful sycamore grove with tables in dappled sunlight and private cabanas for al fresco wine service. The area is anchored by a culinary pavilion creating a spectacular walled garden.

Carolyn Martini, granddaughter of founder Louis M. Martini and daughter of Vintner's Hall of Fame member Louis P. Martini, said she has been following the restoration with enthusiasm. "Both my father and grandfather would be extraordinarily proud of how the winery's heritage is being carried forward. Their legacy of producing Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley will continue to be shared with generations to come."

During the restoration, Louis M. Martini winery is welcoming guests in the adjacent Monte Rossotasting room on the south side of the historic winery.  The tasting room is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

GOWC Acquires Duck Pond Cellars

The Great Oregon Wine Company (GOWC) announced today it has acquired Willamette Valley winery Duck Pond Cellars. Founded in 1991 by Doug and Jo Ann Fries and located in the famed Willamette Valley, Duck Pond Cellars is known for award-winning Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The purchase of Duck Pond Cellars by GOWC includes the winemaking facility and tasting room along with 300 acres in the Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley and Umpqua Valley. The addition of Duck Pond Cellars to the portfolio will also increase GOWC’s wine production capacity to over 300,000 cases, establishing GOWC as a leader in Oregon wine production. Great Oregon Wine Company is owned by Integrated Beverage Group (IBG).

“We are thrilled to add Duck Pond Cellars to the Great Oregon Wine Company portfolio, giving us access to premier vineyards in the region as we grow our winery operations in Oregon,” said Ari Walker, CEO of Integrated Beverage Group. “With this acquisition Great Oregon Wine Company moves into the first rank of Oregon winegrowers.”

Steve Thomson, Chairman Emeritus of the Oregon Wine Board commented on the acquisition saying, “We’re excited to see this type of investment into Oregon wineries and vineyards and look forward to continued work alongside GOWC as we promote the many exceptional wines produced here in Oregon.”

GOWC will work with the Duck Pond team to continue making consistently great wine, which regularly receive high accolades from important wine publications. The Fries family will remain involved to facilitate the transition of the business until all regulatory approvals are complete.

“I am very grateful for all the hard work that everyone on the Duck Pond team has put in to build the Duck Pond Cellars brand, cultivate vineyards and create a destination for consumers. With their extensive experience in Oregon, we’re confident that Great Oregon Wine Company will carry on Duck Pond Cellars’ legacy of quality,” said Greg Fries, President of the Fries family enterprises.

The transaction closed on August 30 and exact terms were not made public. Zepponi & Company served as the exclusive financial advisor to Duck Pond Cellars.

Distillery Partnership

Boardroom Spirits, the craft distillery based in Lansdale, Pennsylvania debuts as an integral part of Montgomery County’s newest restaurant, Northbound. Opening today in the newly rehabilitated former SEPTA train station in Souderton, Northbound is a collaboration between the team behind Butcher and Barkeep in Harleysville and Boardroom Spirits.

“Partnering with a local distillery was imperative for our operations, but in reality, we were thrilled to be able to work so closely with Boardroom on this project,” said Cody Ferdinand, co-owner of Northbound. “Collaborating with another Pennsylvania company in order to further support other Pennsylvania companies was really important to us.” 

“We want to promote all that this state has to offer – not just from the Boardroom line of spirits, but also from our friends that are brewers, winemakers, contractors, designers, you name it,” added Marat Mamedov, co-owner and founder at Boardroom Spirits. 

The craft distillery is known for their emphasis for creating clean distilled spirits by using real ingredients, particularly the FRESH line of infused vodkas, as well as their inventive Periodic Table of Spirits line distilled from fruits and veggies like beets and carrots. Boardroom’s license from the PLCB grants them five satellite locations, one of which is now being used to operate the bar at Northbound. The 1,700-sq. ft. restaurant, designed by Foreground Design, also has 2,000 sq. ft. of outdoor seating space. A retail shop is also located inside the restaurant where patrons can purchase the full portfolio of Boardroom Spirits’ as well as a new line of Northbound specific products that will include a line of Northbound whiskies, Spiced Rum, Vanilla Vodka and other collaborations and limited release product. 

Prosecco Predictions

The Tutelary Consortium for Prosecco DOC is anticipating one of the best productions for the Italian sparkling wine after near to perfect conditions continue.

Stefano Zanette, the chairman for the Consortium describes the conditions for all the grapes used in the production of Prosecco as perfect. The favorable weather has permitted not only the proper development of the grapes, but also the optimal phytosanitary status.

These conditions find themselves in the north-eastern part of Italy on a flat type plain with some hilly areas. The climate of the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia lends itself to these conditions, as the area is usually temperate with the mountainous chain of the Alps to the north, acting as a barrier to the cold northern currents and to the south, the Adriatic Sea, which is the main route through which the Sirocco winds arrive, giving rise to sufficient rainfall, especially throughout the summer months. This rainfall lowers the temperature and brings necessary quantities of water to the vine in the stages of shoot and cluster growth.

At the beginning of 2018, the unusually cold temperatures leftover from the previous year worried the 10,242 winegrowers that are part of the Consortium. However, as Zanette explains: “the vegetative cycle of the vines has maintained these years’ average, allowing to overcome the difficulties due to the cold temperatures at the end of the winter that last year compromised a significant part of the production. In April and May the temperatures above the average and the right hydric contribution have accelerated the vegetative development, so that the blossom has begun in middle May. The absence of rain has then allowed the perfect conclusion of this phase and the beginning of the setting (the formation of small berries).”

The favorable weather conditions of the DOC region have been welcomed in the past months, and last weekend's rain was the perfect addition, as Zanette points out, “the rain and the lower temperatures were exactly what we had been hoping for days. The forecast for the upcoming harvest is optimistic, as colder nights and a wider difference in temperatures between day and night help augment the aroma and will enhance the quality of the grapes.”

Thanks to the temperatures and the weather all the grape varieties that will be used for producing Prosecco DOC are developing in these weeks their ideal composition, with their characteristic aroma and the exact acidic profile, which will provide Prosecco DOC its freshness, finesse and pleasantness.

If the conditions are maintained then it means great flavor and the best acidic profile within the 24,450 hectares of the Prosecco DOC region. The harvest will begin in the last days of August.

2018 Whiskies of the World Awards

Whiskies of the World announced the winners of the 2018 Whiskies of the World Awards. Whiskies of the World is known for its industry standard tasting events in Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco and San Jose. The Whisky Awards is an additional feature that provides brands marketing materials to promote their products. As only 31 percent of entrants receive gold medals, the results of these awards are extremely meaningful. Additionally, all judges’ notes are made available to each entrant as important data to develop the brand and determine best marketing strategy.

Whiskies are judged on a 100-point basis with a concentration on aromatics, flavor and finish. Blind judging was performed by a panel of seventeen tastemakers who are all influential figures in the beverage industry. The panel included: David "Bart" Bartlett – Whisky Guru at Beverage World; Steve Beal, World Renowned Whisky Expert and a Keeper of the Quaich; Jeff Boley – Beverage Manager Townsend; Beth Brooks – Pernod Ricard Specialist, Venture Brand Spirits; Jeramy Campbell – Assistant Manage, Seven Grand Whisky Bar; Jennifer Dunn – Brand Ambassador Luxco Brands; Mike Groener – CEO Genius Liquids; Tom Koerner – Spirit Guide, Seven Grand Whiskey Bar; Lana Lindsley – Bulleit Whiskey Ambassador; David Maguire – Co-owner The Austin Shaker; John McEntire – Spirits Consultant Twin Liquors; Greg Randle – Wine and Spirits Business Consultant/Good Taste Report Founder; Mike Raymond – Owner Reserve 101; Kevin Rhodes – Cocktail specialist, The Eleanor/Sourced Cocktail; Ken Seeber – Spirits Consultant Twin Liquors; Kevin Stein – Regional Manager Twin Liquors; Jason Stevens – Director of Beverage, La Corsha Hospitality Group.

“The judges are extremely talented with sensitive palates and work hard to evaluate each product,” explains Douglas Smith, Whiskies of the World Event Director. “The evaluation of whiskies is taken very seriously. Our judges not only taste and make notes, but also discuss and consider many angles. We are proud that our awards reflect the experience and integrity of our excellent judging panel.”


  • Sons of Liberty Uprising American Single Malt – Pedro Ximénez Finish     (Malt American greater than 2 Years)
  • Whip Saw Rye     (Whiskey Rye greater than 4 Years)


Bourbon less than 3 years:     Balcones Texas High Rye Bourbon 
Bourbon 3-6 years:     Bower Hill Barrel Strength Bourbon 
Bourbon greater than 6 years:     Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 
Bourbon Wheated:     Balcones Texas Wheated Bourbon 
Corn Whiskey:     Ironroot Hubris Corn Whiskey 
Irish Blended:     Bogart's Blended Irish Whiskey 
Malt American less than 2 years:     10th Street Single Malt Whisky 
Malt American Smoked less than 2 years:     Westland Peated 
Malt Bourbon Cask:     Glenmorangie 18 Year Old 
Malt Non-Bourbon Cask:     Penderyn Myth 
Malt Peated Medium:     The English Smokey Single Malt 
Malt Peated Heavy:     Port Charlotte 10 
Rye less than 2 years:     Minor Case Rye 
Whiskey:     FEW American Whiskey


Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (Bourbon greater than 6 Years) 
Trail's End Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Bourbon greater than 6 Years) 
Bower Hill Barrel Strength (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
Ardbeg An Oa (Single Malt Scotch Peated Heavy) 
Ardbeg Corryvreckan (Single Malt Scotch Peated Heavy) 
Port Charlotte 10 (Single Malt Scotch Peated Heavy)hiskies of the World Awards 2018 Recipients


Blood Oath P4 (Bourbon greater than 6 Years) 
Widow Jane 10 Year Old Bourbon (Bourbon greater than 6 Years) 
Bower Hill Single Barrel (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
Law's Whiskey Four Grain Bourbon- Bottled in Bond (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
The Burning Chair Bourbon (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
Bogart's irish Whiskey (Irish Blended ) 
The Quiet Man Traditional Irish Blended Whiskey (Irish Blended ) 
10th Street Single Malt Whisky (Malt American less than 2 Years) 
Kurayoshi 12 Year Old (Malt Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Penderyn Myth (Malt Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Amrut Fusion Single Malt (Malt Peated Light) 
Black Adder Chimera (Malt Peated Light) 
The English Smokey Single Malt (Malt Peated Medium) 
Fukano 2018 (Rice Whisky) 
Axe and the Oak Colorado Mountain Incline Rye (Rye less than 2 Years) 
Minor Case (Rye less than 2 Years) 
Bower Hill Reserve Rye (Rye greater than 4 Years) 
Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2010 (Single Malt Scotch ) 
Glencadam 10 Year Old (Single Malt Scotch Bourbon Cask) 
Glenmorangie 18 Year Old (Single Malt Scotch Bourbon Cask) 
Glengoyne Sherry Cask (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Glenmorangie Lasanta (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Glenmorangie Tayne (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
The GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
The Glenlivet 18 Year Old (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Ardbeg 10 Years Old (Single Malt Scotch Peated Heavy) 
Ardbeg Grooves – General Release (Single Malt Scotch Peated Heavy) 
The Glenlivet Nadura (Single Malt Scotch Peated Heavy) 
Ardmore Peated Single Malt (Single Malt Scotch Peated Medium) 
Dry Fly Cask Strength Wheat Whiskey (Wheat greater than 2 Years) 
Dry Fly Straight Wheat Whiskey (Wheat greater than 2 Years) 
FEW American Whiskey (Whiskey) 
Dry Fly Straight Triticale Whiskey (Whiskey Creative)


Balcones Texas High Rye Bourbon (Bourbon less than 3 Years) 
Bio Whiskey (Bourbon less than 3 Years) 
Ironroot Harbinger XC Straight Bourbon (Bourbon less than 3 Years) 
David Nicholson Reserve (Bourbon greater than 6 Years) 
Uncle Nearest Premium 1856 Aged Whiskey (Bourbon greater than 6 Years) 
Bower Hill Barrel Reserve (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
Ezra Brooks Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
FEW Bourbon (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
Garrison Brothers Balmorhea Bourbon (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
Garrison Brothers Small Batch (2018 Release) (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
Iron Wolf Ranch Select Bourbon (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
Old Forester 86 proof (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
Yellowstone Select (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
Balcones Texas Wheated Bourbon (Bourbon Wheated) 
Lambay Whiskey Small Batch Blend (Irish Blended ) 
Alley 6 Single Malt Whiskey (Malt American less than 2 Years) 
Sons of Liberty Wheated American Single Malt (Malt American less than 2 Years) 
Whiskey Del Bac Classic (Malt American less than 2 Years) 
Westland American Oak (Malt American greater than 2 Years) 
Westland Sherry wood (Malt American greater than 2 Years) 
Whiskey Del Bac Distiller's Cut (Malt American greater than 2 Years) 
Westland Sherry wood (Malt American Smoked less than 2 Years) 
Whiskey Del Bac Dorado (Malt American Smoked less than 2 Years) 
Amrut Classic Single Malt (Malt Bourbon Cask) 
The English Original Single Malt (Malt Bourbon Cask) 
Penderyn Madeira (Malt Non-Bourbon Cask) 
The Quiet Man Single Malt Irish Whiskey (Malt Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Amrut Peated Cask Strength Indian Single Malt (Malt Peated Heavy) 
Alley 6 Rye Whiskey (Rye less than 2 Years) 
Corsair Ryemaggedon (Rye less than 2 Years) 
FEW Rye (Rye less than 2 Years) 
Title No 21 Rye (Rye less than 2 Years) 
Law's Whiskey Secale Straight Rye- Bottled in Bond (Rye greater than 4 Years) 
Glenmorangie 19 Year Old (Single Malt Scotch Bourbon Cask) 
Glenmorangie Signet (Single Malt Scotch Bourbon Cask) 
Glenmorangie Cadboll (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Glenmorangie Duthac (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Lambay Whiskey Single Malt (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
The Glenivet Nadura Oloroso (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
The Glenlivet Code (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Ardbeg Uigeadail (Single Malt Scotch Peated Heavy) 
Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2011     (Single Malt Scotch Peated Heavy) 
Port Askaig 110 Proof (Single Malt Scotch Peated Medium) 
Charbay Doubled & Twisted Whiskey (Whiskey)


Axe & The Oak Colorado Mountain Bourbon Whiskey (Bourbon less than 3 Years) 
Ironroot Harbinger (Bourbon less than 3 Years) 
Ironroot Promethean (Bourbon less than 3 Years) 
Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Bourbon (Bourbon 3 to 6 Years) 
Dry Fly Straight Bourbon 101 (Bourbon Wheated) 
Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Bourbon Wheated) 
Woody Creek Distillers Colorado Straight Bourbon (Bourbon Wheated) 
Balcones True Blue 100 (Corn Whiskey) 
Ironroot Hubris (Corn Whiskey) 
Second Glance American Whiskey (Corn Whiskey) 
Virginia Distilling Chardonnay Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky (Malt American less than 2 Years) 
Balcones 1' Texas Single Malt (Malt American greater than 2 Years) 
Sons of Liberty Battle Cry American Single Malt – Sauternes Finish (Malt American greater than 2 Years) 
10th Street Peated Single Malt Whisky (Malt American Smoked less than 2 Years) 
Corsair Triple Smoke (Malt American Smoked less than 2 Years) 
Corsair Wildfire (Malt American Smoked less than 2 Years) 
Fifty Stone Single Malt Whiskey (Malt American Smoked less than 2 Years) 
Brenne Estate Cask (Malt Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Penderyn Celt (Malt Peated Medium) 
Balcones Texas Rye 100 (Rye less than 2 Years) 
Devils River Rye Whiskey (Rye less than 2 Years) 
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Rye (Rye greater than 4 Years) 
Bruichladdich Classic Laddie (Single Malt Scotch Bourbon Cask) 
Glencadam 13 Year Old (Single Malt Scotch Bourbon Cask) 
Glengoyne Bourbon Cask (Single Malt Scotch Bourbon Cask) 
Glenmorangie The Original (Single Malt Scotch Bourbon Cask) 
The Glenlivet – Founder's Reserve (Single Malt Scotch Bourbon Cask) 
The Glenlivet 12 Year Old (Single Malt Scotch Bourbon Cask) 
Glenmorangie Spios (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
The Glenlivet 15 Year Old (Single Malt Scotch Non-Bourbon Cask) 
Devils River Barrel Strength Whiskey (Whiskey)


Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Malt (Malt American greater than 2 Years) 
The Glenlivet Nadura (Single Malt Scotch Bourbon Cask) 
Rebecca Creek Fine Texas Whiskey (Whiskey) 
Rebecca Creek Texas Ranger Whiskey (Whiskey) 
Seven Stills Chocasmoke (Whiskey)

Category Clarification: 
Malt: Includes Single Malt (all from same distillery) and Blended Malts (100 percent malt but from different distilleries). To help define the product some have been listed as Single Malt Scotch, or Single Malt. However, for Best in Class purposes, these are the same category. 
Bourbon Cask: Malt whisky which has been aged in bourbon cask 
Non-Bourbon Cask: Malt whisky that has significant influence from casks other than bourbon. Most commonly, sherry casks. 
Cask Finished: Either matured in a non-bourbon cask, or finished in a non-bourbon cask or blended with a non-bourbon cask.

The upcoming Whiskies of the World Texas Expos will be held for a seventh time in Austin on Thursday, Sept. 20, for the first time in Dallas on Friday, Sept. 21 and for the fourth time in Houston on Saturday, Sept. 22. We will also be returning to Atlanta for a sixth time on Friday, Nov. 2.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Father Daughter Leadership Change

Empson & Co. announced that after 45 years in the wine business, owner and shareholder Neil Empson will appoint Tara Empson to succeed him in his role at Empson USA, the U.S. subsidiary company of Empson & Co.

Tara who has been involved with the company since 2006, will now oversee the management and operations of Empson USA. Since 2014, Tara has managed the relationship with supplier clients, which are currently exported in 28 countries worldwide. As an owner and active board member of Empson & Co., Tara will continue to lead an impressive portfolio of brands including Fuligni, Conterno Fantino and Pietradolce. Tara Empson represents a new generation of company leadership who will maintain the Empson family legacy and ensure continuity for the business.

Speaking to this change, Tara Empson said, “Family, integrity, leadership, and authenticity are the four key strengths that have enabled the Empson Company to establish its standout positioning as a pioneer of Italian wine. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this company to new ventures while following my father’s legacy.”

When Tara started full time at the family company, she took on numerous managerial responsibilities including management of client trips to Italy, support for the wineries, and execution of sales and marketing initiatives for the Caribbean, New Zealand, Bermuda, and U.S. markets.

Tara’s desire is to take the business to a new level by improving partnerships between the U.S. and Italian teams to increase efficiency and productivity. Furthermore, Tara’s perspective as a member of the Millennial generation and her distinctly global outlook will help shape Empson’s future by honoring their familial client relationships while seeking new and exciting partnerships. In the long term, Tara’s mission is for Empson to export to all the markets worldwide, taking the company fully global. Neil Empson comments, “The route to market has changed so the challenge is far greater today than when we started Empson in 1972. The quality of our portfolio will continue to play a major role in achieving those goals.”

Founded nearly 50 years ago by Neil and Maria Empson, Empson & Co. was one of the early advocates for fine Italian wine in the U.S., discovering, introducing and building many of today’s leading Italian wine brands including Gaja, Conti Costanti and Marcarini, and helping to introduce new denominations of Italian wines to American wine drinkers. Armed with a philosophy of one family doing business with another, Empson & Co. established Empson USA in 1991 to keep up with the growing demand for their wines in the U.S.

Neil Empson comments, “Tara’s tenacity to lead is decisive and will play a key role in maintaining and growing Empson in a leadership role of excellence. I’m confident in Tara’s abilities and the team we have in place to support this change.”

Tara said, “I attribute the company’s success to my father, who is a true pioneer of Italian wine. He believed in Italy’s potential and made it his mission to show the world that Italy is the home of wine excellence.”

To continue to oversee operations from a global standpoint, Tara will work in concert with Phil Langford at Empson USA in Milan; Mike Conroy at Empson USA in Virginia; and Christopher Ellyn at Empson Canada.

Celebrating 1,000 Wine Scholars

The Italian Wine Scholar study and certification program, modeled after the industry-acclaimed French Wine Scholar program (launched in 2009), celebrates the enrollment of its 1000th student since the program's launch in 2016.

WSG has broken down the course into two manageable chunks: Unit 1 – Wines of Northern Italy & Unit 2: Wines of Central & Southern Italy. Each Italian wine region is covered with regards to history, geography, climate, topography, soils, grapes and appellations.

IWS instructors from around the world in Lugana on WSG's first educator trip to Italy in Trentino, Franciacorta and Lugana (June 2018) (PRNewsfoto/Wine Scholar Guild)

A composite score of 75 percent on Unit 1 and Unit 2 exams is required for candidates to earn the Italian Wine Scholar title and IWS post-nominal. The program is available both in distance-learning and classroom format. Classes are held at one of the 50+ WSG approved program providers located in 20+ countries on 5 continents.

"Students are composed of wine professionals and enthusiasts, all committed students of wine, who have already completed more general wine study programs and wish to gain deeper understanding of the wines of Italy," states IWS Education Director Maurizio Broggi, "These students come from over 25 countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Australia, France… and Italy!"

"Many have WSET level 3 under their belt and choose IWS for its depth and academic rigor as well as its regional, i.e. terroir approach. We are firm believers in the importance of approaching wine, especially from France, Italy or Spain, based on location. This brings a much more complete educational package to the table than simply studying grapes or wine styles," states Julien Camus, founder of the Wine Scholar Guild, "Place tells you so much more!"

The Italian Wine Scholar program is officially endorsed by the Italian Trade Commission and by various Italian consortia. It has also received wine industry kudos from Italian authorities including Nicholas Belfrage MW, Peter Marks MW and Jeannie Cho Lee MW and many others.

About the Wine Scholar Guild: The Wine Scholar Guild provides specialization study & certification programs for the professional development of wine industry members and committed students of wine. Fields of study include French, Italian and Spanish wines.

Chronicling a Legacy of Wine

Wine Estate Ornellaia launched  ORNELLAIA, a long-awaited book project published by Assouline.

For the first time in the estate’s storied history, Ornellaia opens its doors to connoisseurs and wine lovers alike, offering readers of ORNELLAIA a glimpse of its magnificent surroundings and a tantalizing taste of traditional Tuscan hospitality. Just released, ORNELLAIA features stunning photography of the Ornellaia vineyards, landscape, and rare historical images from the Ornellaia archives. The book captures the essence of the elegance, finesse and excellence of the Ornellaia estate and its wines, conveying the story behind the iconic brand, and of one of the finest wines in the world. Readers will be transported to the estate through the book’s richly illustrated, gorgeous images and testimonials from luminaries of the modern wine world.

"What we aspire above all is for the driving spirit of Ornellaia to remain a source of inspiration for the future in our endless pursuit of excellence," noted Ornellaia CEO Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja. “This incredible book project is a testament to our philosophy at the estate, and gives wine lovers around the globe the opportunity to enter our world and experience the passion and excellence that have transformed Ornellaia from being an area of insignificant farmland in a non-existent denomination into one of the world’s greatest wine estates from Bolgheri, on the Tuscan coast, in the space of just 30 years.”

Ornellaia is the fruit of some of the wine world’s most venerable names: the noble Frescobaldi family, the Mondavi family from California, Lodovico Antinori with André Tchelistcheff, Michel Rolland from Bordeaux and many other brilliant collaborators, as well as the celebrated contemporary artists who produce artworks inspired by the characteristics of Ornellaia’s vintages in the acclaimed Vendemmia d’Artista program. The estate’s own employees have also lovingly played their part tending the estate’s grapes year after year and carrying the name and reputation of Ornellaia to the four corners of the globe. Ornellaia has built a reputation of international renown among the world’s wine cognoscenti and represents the culmination of the best of contemporary winemaking, cultivated through centuries of illustrious Tuscan heritage.

ORNELLAIA was released on August 27, 2018 as a 220-page hardcover book, and retails in the United States for $85. The is available through the Assouline bookstores and online at here.

Southern Glazer's Honors Drivers

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is honoring its national team of more than 3,000 professional truck drivers during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, from September 9 – 15. The annual recognition event, created by the American Trucking Associations, honors professional truck drivers for their hard work and commitment to tackling one of our economy’s most demanding and important jobs.

“Our drivers are an integral part of our operational success,” said Bobby Burg, Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer for Southern Glazer’s. “They’re one of the key reasons why our customers are able to keep their shelves stocked and maintain their customers’ satisfaction.”

Drivers across the company will be honored throughout the course of the week at 61 Southern Glazer’s branch locations across the country. Drivers will enjoy various festivities, from catered breakfasts and barbeques, to raffles and prizes. Additionally, all Southern Glazer’s drivers will receive a t-shirt and hat.

“It’s like driving around and seeing your friends all day,” said Shawn Decaro, Route Driver for Southern Glazer’s in Portland. “My two favorite parts of the job include getting to work for great people and the excellent equipment the Company provides us with. It makes your job easier when you have solid equipment you can trust, and it really is a big deal in this industry.”

Wine and spirits wholesalers like Southern Glazer’s employ more than 16,500 professional truck drivers. These professional men and women deliver 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the U.S. to neighborhood restaurants, bars and stores, in a manner that is safe and efficient. 

Southern Glazer’s represents thousands of leading wine and spirits brands and sells millions of cases annually. The Company reinforces its safety culture through programs that recognize drivers for consistent safety performance. The Company provides an Elite Safe Driver Recognition Program across every state in its national network. To qualify, drivers must have 20 consecutive quarters, or five years, of safe driving without a preventable collision. Once a driver reaches this milestone, he/she receives a gold ring set with an onyx stone. A .10pt diamond is added to the ring for every four consecutive quarters of safe driving until the ring is fit with 12 diamonds. As the driver continues his/her safe driving record, the center stone is replaced with a .25pt diamond and then is eligible for monetary bonus awards.

Toasting Friendship

J.P. Wiser's launched a new national campaign, top photo, with personalized billboards and radio spots, giving friends the opportunity to toast each other in a big way.

In July 2018, the Canadian whisky brand collected over 1,000 messages via from people across the country who felt their friends deserved recognition. Now, a handful of these public toasts are live across Canada.

"Our aim is to allow friends to show appreciation for one another by encouraging them to call out the qualities that make their friendships unique," says Sam Jacobs, Brand Manager Canadian Whisky. "J.P. Wiser's is honoured to share ad space with people who genuinely care about their friends," he adds. The public toasts express everything from tongue-in-cheek shout-outs, to heartfelt messages.

Up to 80 of these messages will air on radio stations, and 165 custom billboards and transit shelter posts in specific neighbourhoods across Canada now display the personal messages.

The targeted ads will appear as a surprise to the unsuspecting 'toastee' as they stroll through their neighbourhood, ride public transit, listen to the radio on their way to work, or check their social media.

The Canadian whisky brand will activate its first ever toast-recording studio and whisky bar in a customized shipping container set to travel across Canada. The portable studio is designed to give everyone the chance to record their own custom toast, and instantly share it with their friends on social media.

The first stop for the toast recording studio will be located in downtown Toronto on Saturday, September 29. Exact location to be announced on J.P. Wiser’s social media accounts in the coming weeks. Guests will also be invited to sample the newly released J.P Wiser's Old Fashioned Whisky Cocktail and enjoy live music at the pop-up.

Wilson Daniels Wholesale Expands Reach

Wilson Daniels Wholesale will enter its fourth market this October, beginning operations in Connecticut to bolster New York, New Jersey and Oregon in the wine distributor's footprint. The wholesale unit—which launched in 2015 in a bid to expand Wilson Daniels'presence in the national fine wine market—is targeting revenues of about $45 million this year, up from $20 million in 2016 in the Tri-State area. Wilson Daniels and Wilson Daniels Wholesale are subsidiaries of California-based Young's Holdings, Inc., owned by the Underwood family.

The Connecticut division will be led locally by industry veteran and Connecticut native Michael Tobin, who comes to the company from Worldwide Wines, bringing along his nearly 15 years of fine wine and spirits sales experience in the state. Wilson Daniels will distribute their 44 national brands within the market, including Schramsberg, Champagne Gosset, Château Gassier and Domaine Laroche.    

"I'm very excited to join the Wilson Daniels team in this capacity, squarely at the crossroads of my passion for discovering the world's finest wines and bringing them to Connecticut's ever-growing population of connoisseurs," says Tobin, who specializes in high level customer service to establish and maintain quality relationships.    

Wilson Daniels president Rocco Lombardo said of the expansion, which follows on the heels of their 40th anniversary U.S. tour, "Connecticut is home to a sizable population with refined palates looking for partners to help make educated wine selections, and we seek to provide them with those partners." Utilizing small, streamlined teams, the company aims to accommodate this market via its knowledgeable staff and personalized, hands-on approach, as it has established a reputation for doing elsewhere in the Tri-State Area. "Under the specialized guidance of the Wilson Daniels Wholesale team, we're entering this robust market with great confidence," Lombardo added.

Combating Harmful Drinking

The 11 companies behind some of the world's most popular beer, wine, and spirits brands have forged new and innovative partnerships across sectors through their Producers' Commitments, according to a new report from the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking.

Achievements include:

  • Delivering an average of 347 drink driving prevention programs per year between 2014 and 2017
  • Reaching over 6 million underage individuals via face-to-face interactions between 2015 and 2017 with messages against underage drinking
  • Specifying that advertising agencies must comply with our responsible alcohol advertising codes in 97 percent of our contracts with them in 2017
  • The number of local responsible retailing initiatives increased by 66 percent between 2014 and 2017
  • An average of 224 local responsible retailing initiatives were operating, per year, between 2014 and 2017

In 2012, the leading beer, wine, and spirits producers that compromise the membership of International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) committed to work together to combat harmful drinking and set new responsible standards for their wider industry.

The full report, details the progress made over the five years and demonstrates what can be achieved when public, private, and civil sectors come together to tackle challenges including the harmful use of alcohol, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), and the targets laid out within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We have achieved a great deal working together and with others, and yet there is still so much more we can do. We're seeing positive change in many parts of the world, in underage drinking, drinking to excess, and drinking and driving. But, we want to see positive change in every part of the world.

IARD CEO Chair and Chief Executive of Diageo Ivan Menezes commented "Having reached the end of our five years we can reflect proudly on the tangible difference we have already made, as well as the work we need to do in the future.

It's our duty to fight the harmful use of alcohol to help improve global health as well as reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases.

Through our Producers' Commitments, we have laid strong foundations for the work ahead, but recognize there is a lot more to do. But we cannot act alone. Innovative partnerships with retailers, government departments, health agencies and nongovernmental organizations have been instrumental to the progress we have made."

IARD's CEO and President Henry Ashworth stated that "the Producers' Commitments demonstrate the determination of these leading global producers to be catalysts of change, and highlight the impact they can have by working with governments and NGOs.

A whole-of-society approach is critical in delivering sustainable development locally, nationally, and globally and our collective efforts can go much further if we move from having a shared agenda to developing shared solutions. Together we can achieve change; reducing the harmful use of alcohol and accelerating progress towards the SDGs."

Key achievements of the Producers Commitments include:   

Reducing underage drinking  

  • 6 million underage people reached with face-to-face interactions between 2015 and 2017
  • 3 million influencers reached via face-to-face interactions between 2015 and 2017
  • Over half a billion people (546 million) reached between 2014 and 2017 through media and social channels 

Reducing drinking and driving   

  • Members operated an average of 347 drink-driving prevention programs per year between 2014 and 2017
  • Drink-driving programs and pilots were operating in 76 percent of countries where members were commercially active in 2017

Strengthening marketing codes of practice   

  • 97 percent of members contracts with advertising agencies in 2017 specified that they had to comply with our responsible advertising codes
  • Non-industry participation was established in existing self-regulatory processes in 53 countries of commercial activity, on average, between 2014 and 2017

Providing consumer information and responsible product innovation  

  • Of the four signatories reporting by volume, 85 percent of products carried symbols or words warning against harmful drinking in 2017
  • Of the seven signatories reporting by brands, 59 percent of products carried symbols or words warning against harmful drinking in 2017

Working with retailers   

  • An average of 224 local responsible retailing initiatives were operating per year between 2014 – 2017
  • 66 percent increase in the number of local responsible retailing initiatives between 2014 – 2017

Examples of initiatives highlighted within the report include:  

Action against drink driving in Australia and New Zealand  
DrinkWise Australia runs innovative drink driving prevention campaigns and is funded by Australian alcohol producers. It partnered with ride-sharing service Uber in 2017 to discourage racing fans from drink driving by operating the "DrinkWise UberZONE" during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, which provided a safe and reliable access point for eventgoers to enter and leave the race course. The UberZONE promoted DrinkWise Australia and Uber's messages about safe journeys and responsible alcohol consumption, with free water for attendees while they waited in comfort for their Uber ride home.

Responsible alcohol marketing policies in Cambodia  
The Asia Pacific International Wine and Spirits Alliance (APIWSA), together with the Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, signed the "Cambodia Responsible Alcohol Marketing and Communication Code of Conduct" in February 2017. The code sets out the rules that apply to alcohol marketing and represents a set of common standards supported by major international alcohol producers, such as statements on alcohol strength, harmful drinking, and not targeting those under 18 years old.

Improving breath testing practice in Namibia  
We worked with the Self-Regulating Alcohol Industry Forum (SAIF) to implement the "Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol" program, between 2015 and 2017, which aimed to help reduce drink driving through public educational messages and through improved enforcement regulations and detection methods.

Between August 1, 2017 and January 31, 2018, traffic officers tested over 153,000 drivers and found that 1 percent tested positive for alcohol consumption. The police's high-visibility enforcement deterred drivers from drinking, and the percentage of all drivers arrested for driving while intoxicated fell from 6.8 percent in 2016 to 0.5 percent in 2017.

Latvia: Would you sell alcohol to your child?  
The Latvian Alcohol Industry Association (LANA) launched awareness campaigns and test-purchasing operations using underage volunteers in 2016 and 2017. LANA partnered with the Association of Hotels and Restaurants of Latvia (AHRL), Latvian Traders Association, the Latvian Food Retailers' Association (LPTA), and the Latvian Medical Association, to carry out more than 40 engagements with retailers. The initiative asked sales staff to imagine what the consequences would be selling alcohol to their own child and reminded them to ask for ID.

In 2017, approximately 1,250 retail cash registers displayed the campaign materials, and around 400 hotels, cafes, and restaurants joined the initiative. The campaign was featured on TV, radio, and the internet, potentially reaching approximately 2 million people. After the campaign, 90 percent of boys and just over 65 percent of girls were stopped from buying alcohol without showing ID.

The 11 signatories to the Beer, Wine and Spirits Producers' Commitments to Reduce Harmful Drinking are Anheuser-Busch InBev, Asahi Group Holdings, Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman Corporation, Carlsberg, Diageo, HEINEKEN, Kirin Holdings Company, Molson Coors, and Pernod Ricard.

The Producers' Commitments:

  • Reducing underage drinking
  • Strengthening & expanding marketing codes of practice
  • Providing consumer information & responsible product innovation
  • Reducing drinking and driving
  • Enlisting the support of retailers to reduce harmful drinking 

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to addressing harmful drinking worldwide and promoting responsible drinking, among those who choose to drink. IARD is supported by its member companies from all sectors of the regulated alcohol industry – beer, wine, and spirits – in their common purpose of being part of the solution to reducing the harmful use of alcohol.

For more information on our membership and what we do,  click here.

Spoetzl Brewery Introduces Limited-Edition Craft Brew

Spoetzl Brewery, the iconic 109-year-old Texascraft brewery, announces the release of a new limited-edition craft brew, Spoetzl Märzenin collaboration with Balcones Distilling. The two Texas icons who share a passion for supreme craftsmanship and appreciation for things done well, have come together to introduce a high-quality craft beer matured in ex-Balcones single malt barrels and made in the heart of Texas.

Spoetzl Märzen is a true labor of love, handcrafted with the utmost care, attention and patience. Using imported Munich Malt, Spoetzl Märzen is hopped with prized Hallertau and Hersbrucker varietals and krausened twice to round out the lightly toasted, spicy malt flavors. The brew then rests in barrels that formerly housed the award-winning single malt whisky, resulting in a bold, full-bodied brew.

The coppery-orange hued, hop-forward brew has notes of caramel and oak from the whisky-imbued barrels offering a smooth, lingering finish that adds depth and character. With an ABV of 11 percent and 32 IBU, Spoetzl Märzen is a vibrant yet well-balanced lager perfect for any fall occasion.

"For 109 years, Spoetzl Brewery has delivered best in class craft beer. We are excited to get back to our roots with the second release of our small batch brewing program. Barrel-aging is wildly popular from beer to coffee, not to mention the original way to make a Märzen-style lager. For this reason, it was great to work with our friends over at Balcones Distilling, the most awarded Texas whisky, as the tannins from whisky-soaked barrels naturally increase the clarity of the beer while also imparting a unique roundness and incredible color to the beer," said Tom Fiorenzi, Director of Brewing at Spoetzl Brewery.

The brew will be available for a limited-time throughout Texas starting on October 1 at specialty retailers in 750ml bottles and poured at local cultural and epicurean events throughout the state.

"We are thrilled to be working with the Spoetzl Brewery team on this collaboration as it's not every day that you find another brand that shares your dedication to quality, craftsmanship and flavor complexity," said Jared Himstedt, Head Distiller at Balcones Distilling. "This is a great opportunity to work closely with the team at Spoetzl Brewery and we look forward to continued collaboration with them in the future."

Fever-Tree and Patrón Tequila Team

Fever-Tree and Patrón Tequila, have combined their expertise and craftsmanship for the first time to create a new bespoke mixer, Fever-Tree Citrus Tonic. It will be available September 2018 in some of the world's most iconic bar and restaurant venues, select specialty retailers and on ReserveBar.

A  blend of specially sourced citrus, including Mexican limes, tangerines and bitter orange, this tonic has been carefully crafted to pair perfectly with Patrón Tequila. Fever-Tree Citrus Tonic has been designed to create a range of simple, long, premium mixed drinks aimed at revolutionizing consumer thinking—and drinking—when it comes to a tequila and tonic.

"We are most excited about this collaboration. Fever-Tree and Patrón share the values of providing consumers authenticity, flavor and substance," says Charles Gibb, Fever-Tree North American CEO. "In addition, sourcing absolute top quality ingredients drives both brands. When we developed our Citrus Tonic, we scoured Mexico to identify the most dedicated producers of exceptional citrus fruits. This enabled us to create a mixer that complements and enhances Patrón Tequila's stellar flavor profile."

The ingredient hunting took the Fever-Tree team to Colima and Michoacán to source the ideal Key limes and Tahitian limes, before heading to Veracruz to find the best tangerines. Then it was on to Yucatán, where they discovered the perfect bitter orange to sit with Fever-Tree's signature quinine.

The goal was to create a balance for the sweet citrus, peppery notes of Patrón Tequila and, with the expertise of the world's number one ultra-premium tequila and the world's leading mixer, they have excelled.

"It's the perfect pairing between two pioneering brands," says Lee Applbaum, Global CMO, Patrón. "Together we are recruiting new customers and changing preconceptions. It showcases the versatility of Patrón and mixability of Fever-Tree Tonic."

"We are seeing a massive revival of simple, long mixed drinks, both among professional bartenders and home enthusiasts. Like Patrón Tequila, Fever-Tree offers limitless versatility," says Amanda Stackman, Fever-Tree Marketing Director, USA. "Naturally, gin is the most popular pairing for our tonic. That said, our premium mixers can be enjoyed across many categories of spirits. What is brand new and unprecedented here is this highly-customized collaboration."

"Tequila and tonic," adds Applbaum, "is the new, refreshing long, tequila serve." 

Coyne Named CFO at Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants appointed Michael Coyne as Chief Financial Officer, effective October 1. Coyne brings to Cooper’s Hawk more than 30 years of experience in leadership positions across a variety of top tier companies.

“We are excited for Mike to join the Cooper’s Hawk team,” said Cooper’s Hawk Founder & CEO Tim McEnery. “His depth of experience in both large public companies and the restaurant space will contribute greatly to our leadership team as we grow our brand.”

Most recently, Coyne served as Chief Financial Officer at Potbelly Corporation, which included a period as interim Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining Potbelly, he served as Senior Vice President, Small Business at CNA Financial Corporation, and as Chief Financial Officer of CNA’s Property & Casualty Operations business. He also spent seven years at Sears Holdings Corporation, culminating as Vice President and Treasurer. Coyne also held various financial roles at Schering-Plough Corporation. A Certified Public Accountant, he began his career with Ernst & Young.

“I look forward to joining Tim and the unique culture he has created at Cooper’s Hawk. I’m also looking forward to adding my experience in public company operating and finance roles, investment community relationships, and strategic leadership to the talented Cooper’s Hawk team,” said Mr. Coyne.

As CFO, Coyne will report directly to Tim McEnery, and will oversee the company’s finance, accounting, financial planning and analysis, internal audit, tax and treasury areas of the business.

Limited Edition Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka

Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries celebrated the 10th Anniversary of its multiple award-winning spirit, Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka. In commemoration of this milestone, the distillery has released limited edition 10th Anniversary bottles paying homage to the Pittsburgh skyline and celebrating the birthplace of the craft spirit. Limited edition bottles are available for purchase in PLCB stores in major markets across the country.

Launched in 2008, Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries was only the second distillery to open in Pennsylvaniasince Prohibition, and Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka was one of the first hand-distilled potato vodkas in the country. Over the past decade, the spirit has greatly expanded its reach and is now available in more than 2,300 cocktail lounges, liquor stores and restaurants. It is currently sold in 41 states, plus Singapore, Hong Kong, Alberta Canada and France. 

"Ten years ago the words "artisan" and "vodka" didn't really coincide in the world of spirits," said Barry Young, cofounder and Master Distiller of Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries. "I wanted to fill that void and develop a vodka that could be sipped on the rocks or even neat, and had enough flavor for a whiskey drinker like myself to enjoy. Since then, the craft distilling landscape has evolved, and we're proud to still count ourselves among the country's first and few authentic artisan distillers."

Young began his work as a distiller after more than 20 years as a pharmacist and chemist. This background instilled in him a love of formulas, which further inspired him to take traditional distilling methods and enhance them to create his award-winning spirits. 

As with the other three spirits Young has developed since the birth of Boyd & Blair, ingredients are locally sourced and each bottle is carefully filled, corked and labeled by hand to meet the distillery's high quality standards. To ensure quality in taste, Young uses what he calls a "unique Instinct Palate Distillation method," which means that the determining factor as to when the distillation process is complete is purely based off of taste and his instinct alone. There is no automation involved whatsoever in this process.

"Maintaining consistency of flavor has always been important to us, and one way we have been able to accomplish this is by sourcing our ingredients from the same local farms as we did on the day we started," said Young. "We are privileged to work with local farmers who value the quality of their products as much as we do our spirits."

Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka is distilled from local PA potatoes from which Young unlocks natural sweetness by fermenting with champagne yeast. Adhering to a 100 percent hand-crafted method results in an absolutely masterful spirit that redefines the label "vodka" by rewarding the senses with a smooth, creamy, semi-sweet flavor and no harsh "bite."

In the past ten years, Boyd & Blair has garnered numerous accolades including 5-star ratings from Spirit Journal, who also rated the spirit the top vodka in the world and the 22nd best spirit in the world three times. The spirit also boasts two 95 ratings from the Ultimate Spirits Challenge and a Gold Medal from the Good Food Awards in 2013. Additional milestones include being named to the Marriott beverage list of approved spirits and winning gold twice at the Craft Spirits Competition. Young initially set out to make a spirit that would get noticed and, needless to say, he has accomplished that with Boyd & Blair.

"Hitting a home run with Boyd & Blair was incredible, but seeing the same pattern of success taking shape with BLY Rum is such an unbelievable feeling," said Young. "Developing a new spirit takes a significant amount of time and patience, and to stay true to our mission I also resist the temptation to make a portfolio of spirits. At the end of the day I want to be known for putting out the best spirits, and if that is just a few I am very proud of that. For me it will always be quality over quantity. 'Just because I can make anything does not mean that I should,' has always been one of my mantras."

Gran Patrón Smoky

Patrón Tequila launched Gran Patrón Smoky. Using agave that is roasted with mesquite for about seven days in small underground stone pits, Gran Patrón Smoky brings a new level of meticulous detail and distinct taste to the Gran Patrón portfolio, Patrón's most premium line of artisanally crafted tequilas.

Gran Patrón Smoky honors traditional production methods dating back hundreds of years. Like all Patrón Tequila, the process for Gran Patrón Smoky begins with the highest-quality, 100 percent Weber Blue Agave. To create the distinctively smoky aroma and taste of this extraordinary tequila, the heart of the agave plant, the piña, is roasted in underground stone pits at the Patrón Hacienda distillery in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. The cooked agave is then slowly crushed with a volcanic stone tahona wheel before the juice and agave fibers are placed together in pine wood fermenters and then distilled in small-capacity copper pot stills.

"At Patrón, from the beginning, we have always been dedicated to preserving traditional tequila-making techniques. With Gran Patrón Smoky we've taken that commitment one step further by exploring the ancient method of roasting the agaves in small, underground stone pits, resulting in a balanced yet complex smoky flavor." said Lee Applbaum, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Patrón Tequila.

Gran Patrón Smoky is characterized by its aroma of artichoke, pepper, spices, and hints of sweet citrus. It has a smooth and sweet taste, with very distinctive smoked agave and citrus notes, and a long peppery finish. Bottled at 101 proof, Gran Patrón Smoky will be available in limited supply in select U.S. markets starting in September 2018, with broader expansion planned for 2019.

S. Martinelli Introduces 1868 Hard Cider

To commemorate its 150th anniversary, family owned and operated S. Martinelli & Company is introducing 1868 Hard Cider.  Currently in limited distribution on the West Coast, this fresh-pressed hard cider was named in recognition of the year the company was founded. Few know that hard cider was actually the first product made by Martinelli's, the company known across the country and around the world for producing the highest quality sparkling cider and apple juice pressed from 100 percent U.S. grown, fresh apples.

Martinelli's was forced to stop production of its hard cider when the 18th Amendment was adopted in 1920. The original recipe was brought back in 1933 when Prohibition was repealed. Eventually, as sales of Martinelli's popular non-alcoholic Gold Medal Sparkling Cider and Apple Juice grew, the company made the tough choice to put the historical recipe to rest again. Martinelli's Hard Cider officially stopped being produced in 1978.

"We are very excited about the launch of our 1868 Hard Cider.  It's a great way for us to celebrate Martinelli's rich heritage, as most people don't realize that we were founded as a hard cider company in 1868," explained Gun Ruder, President of S. Martinelli & Company.

S. Martinelli & Company was founded and still resides in Watsonville, on the Monterey Bay Coast in Central California. During its rich 150-year history, the company faced many challenges ranging from World Wars to Prohibition to the Depression, and an increasingly competitive marketplace. Despite the ever-changing environment, Martinelli's never changed its mission to produce the highest quality sparkling cider and apple juice, containing no chemical preservatives, or sweeteners, made from 100 percent U.S. grown, hand-picked fresh apples.

"Our number one goal has always been to produce the highest quality juice products with the freshest taste possible," explained John Martinelli, CEO and fourth-generation leader of the company. "We press our juice from a unique blend of the most flavorful apples grown in the Western U.S. in much the same way we did 150 years ago. While we are committed to our time-honored traditions that create premium quality, we have embraced technological improvements in temperature control, filtration and bottling that preserve the fresh apple flavor from the press. To be sure we deliver on this promise, I taste every batch we make."

A unique blend of premium apple varieties is used to achieve Martinelli's crisp taste and distinctive tart-sweet flavor. The locally grown Newtown Pippin, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Mutsu and Honeycrisp apples are thoroughly washed, hand-sorted and fresh pressed. The juice is then pasteurized and cooled in the bottle to retain its natural fresh apple flavor. The result is a 100 percent pure juice product that has extended shelf life without chemical preservatives or sweeteners. Most other brands of apple juice are made from concentrate with added water and preservatives.

During its anniversary year, Martinelli's launched a special edition label for its sparkling cider and is hosting several celebratory events for the local community with a restored 1932 Ford Model B truck. "This truck dates back to my grandfather's era and was originally used for hauling apples and delivering juice to customers. In later years the flat bed was replaced with panel sided boxes to serve juice to people at parades, fairs and community events," added Martinelli.

90+ Cellars' First Beaujolais

90+ Cellars launched its first Beaujolais, Lot 158.  Exports to the U.S. grew by seven percent in volume last year according to Business France, and IRi data indicates Beaujolais sales have increased by more than 20 percent in some parts of the country.The wine is crafted from hand harvested Gamay grapes grown near the villages La Chapelle-de-Guinchay and Romanèche-Thorins. Lot 158 Beaujolais boasts a smooth texture and flavors of fresh strawberries and blueberries, with hints of wildflowers that come to life on both the palate and the beautifully illustrated label.

"Beaujolais is one of the most interesting wines on the market right now, and is a natural fit for our portfolio thanks to its high quality and reasonable price," said Brett Vankoski, wine director and co-founder of Latitude Beverage, the company behind 90+ Cellars. "Our goal with Lot 158 is to give wine drinkers a new reason to be excited about Beaujolais. Often categorized as a Thanksgiving wine, Beaujolais is ready to have its day. A food-friendly wine to be shared with friends and family this fall, try pairing Beaujolais with everything from a hearty beef stew to butternut squash linguine with crispy sage."

And because there is more Beaujolais to be discovered, 90+ Cellars has also launched a limited-release Cru Beaujolais, Lot 159 Chénas. Chénas hails from its namesake cru, which lies in the northern Beaujolais region. Chénas has the fewest exports to the U.S. of any of the ten crus, making Lot 159 a must-buy.

Southern Glazer’s Appoints Vic Conti to Vice President and General Manager of Ohio

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits appointed Vic Conti to the position of Vice President and General Manager of Ohio, effective immediately. In this role, Mr. Conti will be responsible for the company’s performance in Ohio, and will report directly to Pete McLaughlin, Executive Vice President of Ohio and Kentucky for Southern Glazer’s.

“Vic has three decades of proven leadership experience in the wine and spirits industry, specifically in the state of Ohio,” said McLaughlin. “He has effectively led a team of 200 employees, created sales programs to further drive success for our suppliers, and served as an outstanding role model reinforcing Southern Glazer’s values promoting diversity and community engagement. Vic is perfectly suited for this role—Southern Glazer’s Ohio is both lucky and thrilled to have him.”

 Conti has held roles of increasing responsibility at E & J Gallo, Wine Distributors, Superior Beverage, and Glazer’s Distributors. In 2017, he was appointed to his most recent position, Vice President of Sales, Ohio, Southern Glazer’s. Conti is a leader of the Ohio Regional Diversity Council, assists in community involvement across the state, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University.

Edrington Teams with Wyoming Whiskey

Edrington formed a strategic partnership with Wyoming Whiskey.

Effective immediately, Wyoming Whiskey will become part of Edrington Americas' portfolio which includes many of the world's most acclaimed spirit brands, including The Macallan, Highland Park, The Glenrothes, Brugal, The Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, Snow Leopard vodka and Tequila Partida. The addition of Wyoming Whiskey allows Edrington to expand its portfolio of premium spirits into the American Whiskey category.

As a result of this strategic partnership, Wyoming Whiskey will immediately join Edrington Americas' nationwide distribution network. Edrington Americas will assume all sales, marketing and distribution of Wyoming Whiskey products.

Born in the Rocky Mountain West, Wyoming Whiskey is a company founded and operated out of Kirby, Wyoming, by fourth generation cattle ranchers Brad and Kate Mead and their son Sam.  All whiskey production will continue in Kirby, using Wyoming grains and water from the mile-deep, limestone aquifer.

Ian Curle, Chief Executive of Edrington, said: "We're pleased to be partnering with the Mead family to bring Wyoming Whiskey into the Edrington portfolio. This deal is a further step towards becoming the world's leading premium spirits company and adds to a brilliant year in which we opened our award-winning distillery and brand home for The Macallan."

Paul Ross, Director of Super Premium for Edrington, said: "Edrington is proud to be forging a partnership with the Mead family and their outstanding American whiskey. Following our successful partnership with Tequila Partida, this is the next step in growing our portfolio of ultra-premium spirits brands."

Chris Spalding, President & CEO Edrington Americas said: "We are excited that Wyoming Whiskey is joining Edrington Americas' award-winning portfolio.  American Whiskey is one of the fastest growing premium spirit categories in the USA, itself the largest premium spirits market in the world. Wyoming Whiskey holds its own against the nation's finest. The brand has been acclaimed by national spirits experts who can attest that world class whiskey is being made out on the Wyoming frontier.  We are proud to be playing our part in helping more consumers discover the quality of this outstanding American Whiskey."

Brad Mead, Founder and President of Wyoming Whiskey added: "I've long admired Edrington's portfolio and its ethos of giving more. To see Wyoming Whiskey alongside The Macallan, Highland Park, and the entire line-up at Edrington Americas' headquarters in New York is just fantastic, but I know we've earned it.  With Edrington, Wyoming Whiskey will be offered opportunities that we could not have achieved on our own. This partnership will allow our brand to grow without the practical limitations that we faced as a standalone distiller. It's an exciting time for us."

The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve

WhistlePig Rye Whiskey released The Boss Hog V: The Spirit of Mauve, the fifth edition of their most profound whiskey. As the biggest and best expression of WhistlePig, The Boss Hog is only produced when the brand feels they can create something superior to anything they have previously made. This marque fulfills the five promises WhistlePig makes to each edition of The Boss Hog: single barrel, bottled at barrel proof, powerfully complex, distinctly unique from anything they have done before, and stupendous. The Boss Hog V targets the senses with a unique balance between sweet and spiced flavors and a fine balance between American power and French sophistication.

The Spirit of Mauve is a celebration of one of the brand's founding celebrity pigs. Mauve's lover, Mortimer, was tragically killed defending her honor in 2014, and was memorialized in The Boss Hog, second edition, The Spirit of Mortimer. Mauve persevered for the sake of their son, Mortimer Jr., but she sadly passed away this Valentine's Day, presumably of a broken heart. The Spirit of Mauve is a 13 Year Straight Rye Whiskey finished in Calvados Casks in honor of Mauve's undying love of apples. Each bottle features a handcrafted Danforth pewter stopper in the shape of Mauve ascending to heaven and a casket-inspired gift box. 

"The Spirit of Mauve is my favorite Boss Hog release so far. It is full flavored yet subtle, with lots of warm spice and apple notes. It's like drinking Grandma's apple pie." explains Dave Pickerell, Master Distiller for WhistlePig.

The former editions of the line include The Boss Hog IV: The Black Prince (2017), which was named Best in Show at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, The Boss Hog III: The Independent (2015), Boss Hog II: The Spirit of Mortimer (2014) and The Boss Hog (2013). 

Belvedere Vodka and Laolu Team

Belvedere Vodka, formed a global partnership with award-winning visual artist, musician, and activist Laolu Senbanjo, including a striking limited edition bottle available in-store globally September 2018. With an artistic vision to reveal the beauty within each of his subjects, the new limited edition bottle visually brings to life Senbanjo's interpretation of the complexity, nuance and character of the Belvedere liquid.

A Brooklyn-based Nigerian-born performance and visual artist, Senbanjo's main artistic medium is the skin; he is best known for his body-painting featured in Beyoncé's Grammy Award-winning visual album, "Lemonade."  He's graced the cover of the Washington Post, and has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, Vogue, BBC, CNN, and NBC. In addition to Beyoncé, he counts artists including Alicia Keys, Swiss Beatz, Seun Kuti, Tony Allen, Alek Wek, and Danielle Brooks among his collaborators.

Senbanjo applies his mantra, "Everything is My Canvas," to mural designs, fashion partnerships, live art events and installations, and now to the new limited-edition Belvedere Vodka bottle. The first Belvedere bottle with high-quality full-wrap sleeve technology features a flowing design with sharp edges that represent the water and rye working together to produce dimension and taste. Subtle skin-sense texture, which reacts to UV lights, is used to bring another sensory component to the bottle. The charcoal coloring and distinct shapes create complex, story-rich designs, which draw heavily from his Yoruba heritage. 

"When Laolu paints a subject, each design is unique to what he believes depicts their inner beauty. This phenomenal message is seamlessly in line with our mission to reveal the unexpected beauty in life," said Rodney Williams, president of Belvedere Vodka. "Also as a social advocate and former human rights attorney, Laolu's philosophies align with our commitment to community and creating positive action in the world; in this case, the program supports the (RED) organization and the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, a cause we've been supporting for 8 years."

"As an artist I get to share my soul with people around me, my environment and the world and I'm able to channel my experiences like my journey as a human rights attorney and as a Nigerian," said Laolu Senbanjo. "The Belvedere bottle design came from that inspiration as well as doing a lot of research about what Belvedere is at its core, like the rye and the pristine water. The bottle is an amazing blend of my art and bringing to life what Belvedere stands for – and I get to be a part of giving back to society, which means a lot to me."

Belvedere Vodka and Laolu will reveal the limited edition bottle at an event planned for Spring/Summer 2019 New York Fashion Week in September. The bottle will support the global fund to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa. Widely available beginning September, the bottle comes in 70cl, 75cl, 1L and 1.75L sizes.

Powell & Mahoney Packaging Refresh

Powell & Mahoney will transition their 12 oz. 4-pack Ginger Beer, Tonic, Blood Orange Ginger Beer, and Mojito out of plastic top carriers and into recyclable corrugated boxes come early September. Their new packaging will provide Powell & Mahoney a creative canvas to communicate what sets them apart within the competitive carbonated mixer category.   Meredith Orfanos, Director of Marketing for Powell & Mahoney adds, “our new packaging was designed to communicate the fun personality of the brand, the quality of the product, and most of all the great taste. Our new boxes will differentiate us from our competitors, enhance our shelf presence, and allow for eye catching in-store displays.”   Powell & Mahoney launched their sparkling mixers successfully at Expo West 2017. Since the line’s introduction, the bubbly mixers have received national distribution through Target, Whole Foods Market, The Fresh Market, Sprouts, and Hannafords. “Our Original Ginger Beer has rocketed to the top of our portfolio and has quickly become a top performing SKU for our brand”, stated KC Commoss, Powell & Mahoney’s Vice President of Business Development. “There is great consumer demand for all-natural, craft carbonated mixers and Powell & Mahoney is not only meeting that request but is set to become a major contributor of the growth of this exciting category. Our Blood Orange Ginger Beer has proven to be a real differentiator in the category.”   The new sparkling line is the latest addition to Powell & Mahoney’s extensive portfolio which includes traditional mixers such as Margarita and Bloody Mary along with unique flavors such as Jalapeno Margarita and Sriracha Bloody Mary. Powell & Mahoney mixers, which range in retail from $7.99 – $5.99,  are sold throughout the US at Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, and thousands of other locations.  

Somabar Wins People's Choice Award

Somabar, the first robotic bartending assistant for restaurants, hotel rooms and lounges, was named winner of the 2018 “People’s Choice Award” at the Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo, Somabar is helping the restaurant industry control beverage service with reduced waste, zero theft and faster service.


Somabar spent three years developing its award-winning technology and is shipping the first restaurant units at the end of September, 2018. 

The Smartest Bar

On August 1, NTN Buzztime, Inc.  launched Smartest Bar, its annual nationwide trivia tournament that is driving repeat visits as players return to compete. Since early August, nearly 2,700 participating locations are already experiencing an increase in foot traffic and player engagement. Buzztime trivia gameplay has also increased by 25 percent as compared to the summer average. Smartest Bar runs through the holiday weekend until September 5, when the top 10 bars are announced. Finalists advance to the championship round on September 12th.

Bars across America – like Beef O'Brady's in Prattville, Alabama – are reporting an uptick in new customers due to the competition: 

"Every year during Smartest Bar, we see higher foot traffic as more people come in to compete. It's great for our business! Not only does Smartest Bar increase revenue, the Buzztime players help create an exciting atmosphere that attracts even more patrons," said Mike Stone, a manager at Beef O'Brady's in Prattville.

"Smartest Bar has increased participation and brought in a lot of new players at Beef O'Brady's. The new blood has energized the team. The publicity we got by finishing second last year was the closing story of the late TV news that night, strongly enhancing the stature of the site and the team in the community. The players get a tremendous level of support from the staff, and that's greatly helped our play. Our success is a community effort," said an avid Buzztime player at Beef O'Brady's in Prattville.

"Participating in Smartest Bar is the ultimate competitive trivia experience for many of our 10 million registered players. Each year, they're motivated by bragging rights and seeing their bar's name on a national leaderboard. No other in-venue entertainment provider gives players access to this level of competition – on such a large scale. In turn, this makes our partner locations the 'heroes' for bringing Smartest Bar to their guests," said Ram Krishnan, NTN Buzztime CEO.

The bar with the highest score wins the title Smartest Bar, a victory party, a championship trophy, medals for players, and more. With so much on the line, competition gets especially fierce in the fourth and fifth rounds, before the top 10 bars are named.  

"Smartest Bar exemplifies what's best about Buzztime – building comradery amongst our players and creating a desirable, engaging atmosphere for our partner locations. Buzztime DOOH advertising partners also benefit during the competition as their brand is displayed on 15,000 screens and 65,000 Android tablets when players are excited and immersed in gameplay," added Krishnan.


Fetzer  is making a recommendation that is both true to its roots and totally 2018: that the white wine glass take up its rightful place on the emoji keyboard. Joining together with over a dozen California wineries and the global wine community, Fetzer is bringing its creativity and a variety of inspired tools to the campaign to add the #WhiteWineEmoji to the 2019 emoji roster.

Fetzer's engaging "I Want My White Wine Emoji" video is at the heart of the vintner's efforts to generate awareness and enthusiasm for the #WhiteWineEmoji campaign. Already viewed more than 33,000 times, the animated video highlights missed opportunities to pair a variety of items—from white wine-friendly foods like fish to day trips to sunny beaches—with the white wine emoji. Fetzer also brings the campaign to life on its website, which sheds light on the international effort for the #WhiteWineEmoji and invites fans to express their support by visiting to get involved.

"White wine drinkers everywhere should have an appropriate symbol for their favorite beverage," said Rodrigo Maturana, Vice President of Marketing for Fetzer Vineyards and flagship label Fetzer, of the winery's efforts supporting the campaign. "With 146 million cases of white wine consumed in the U.S. last year, 1 we believe you should have the #WhiteWineEmoji at hand to express yourself authentically–whether you're sipping white wine because the season or occasion demands it, or simply because it's your go-to."