Dear Client:There are plenty of personal drinks machines on the market from Keurig to Soda Stream. More recently, companies have been looking at how to apply that tech to cocktails.For instance, Drinkworks is the joint venture between Anheuser-Busch and Dr. Pepper Keurig, that launched in late 2018. Touted as the “ultimate bar back,” Drinkworks launched … Continue reading “Is Beam Suntory-backed Bartesian the Next Big Personal Drinks Machine?”

Dear Client:This morning, Diageo announced the acquisition of a “significant majority shareholding” of UK-based non-alc spirits brand Seedlip. Seedlip was launched in 2015 by founder Ben Branson. In June 2016, Diageo-backed spirits accelerator program Distill Ventures took a minority investment in the non-alc spirits brand. This acquisition marks the first non-alcoholic brand acquired by Diageo through Distill … Continue reading “Diageo Takes Majority Stake in Seedlip, a Sign of the Times?”

Dear Client:Building a brand is one thing, but building up a category poses another set of challenges. Park Street put together a panel of brands at the recent Bar Convent Brooklyn that built up their respective categories. The panelists included: Branca USA ceo Steve Brecher; Tortoise & Volt Marketing & Ventures director Steve Luttmann (and Leblon … Continue reading “Behind Brands that Built Categories”

Dear Client:Now that the joint venture between Republic National Distributing Co. and Young’s Market officially closed [see WSD 08-01-2019], RNDC has named Jay Johnson as region president of Young’s Market, which is now a division of RNDC West. Jay joined RNDC in 1991 as evp of the South Texas market, and over the years has held … Continue reading “Jay Johnson to Lead Young’s Market Co. as Region President”

Dear Client:Pernod Ricard is beefing up its premium whiskey offerings with the acquisition of Texas-based Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. No financial details were disclosed. “The addition of Texas, which is an exceptional super premium whiskey blended by skilled Texan craftsmen, represents a very promising venture which strengthens our portfolio and footprint in the United States,” … Continue reading “Pernod Acquires TX-based Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co.”

Dear Client: Yesterday, we published the first part of our interview with Distill Ventures managing director North America Gonzalo de la Pezuela [see WSD 08-01-2019]. Today, we’ll pick up right where we left off in the conversation.  WSD: Tell me more about the US subsidiary Redwood Brands. Gonzalo: Redwood grows out of a market need … Continue reading “Why Profit Margins Don’t Drive Distill Ventures’ US Operation”

Dear Client: Distill Ventures, the Diageo-backed spirits accelerator program, was established in 2013. The company provides sales and marketing expertise to help smaller brands achieve greater scale.  Your editor sat down with DV managing director North America, Gonzalo de la Pezuela, to discuss the ins and outs of DV and the state of the US … Continue reading “The Ins and Outs of Distill Ventures”

Dear Client: 2019 has been a busy year on the M&A front. In fact, we’ve reported on more deals this year than this time last year. The deals mostly fall under a few categories: filling portfolio gaps/ expanding into new categories; beefing up vineyard holdings; and getting rid of assets weighing on the bottom line.   … Continue reading “What’s Driving Supplier M&A Activity in 2019”

Dear Client: Campari posted a strong first-half performance, with the North America region growing by 10.3%, thanks to the company’s largest market, the US, which grew organically by 10.9% (up 10.7% for Q2), with solid growth across all brands but SKYY.   “The U.S. now accounts for 29.3% of our total sales,” says Campari chief Robert … Continue reading “Campari Growing Despite NYT Aperol Hit Piece”

Dear Client: The methanol poisoning deaths in Costa Rica, as well as deaths in India and Mexico where it is estimated that half of all liquor is illicit, have dominated the news lately. Deadly methanol is just one molecule away from lovely ethanol, but they taste similar. Even if you’re trying to make ethanol, you … Continue reading “The Growing Illicit Alcohol Problem”

Dear Client:Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) sided against Total Wine & More, overturning a lower court’s decision to allow the retailer to sell discounted spirits. BACKGROUND. In 2017, Total Wine filed a lawsuit against the state after the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) slapped sanctions on the retailer for selling products … Continue reading “Massachusetts Court Rules Against Total Wine in Discount Pricing Lawsuit”

Dear Client:Diageo ended its fiscal year with organic net sales up 6.1% and volumes up 2.3% globally, driven by new product innovation. In US spirits, net sales were up 5% for the fiscal year ended June 30.BRAND PERFORMANCE. Brands that reported growth for the year in the US:    Crown Royal net sales were up 6%, … Continue reading “Diageo Plans to Up Marketing Spend & Innovation to Keep Momentum Going”

Dear Client: After less than two years at the company, Foley Family Wines president Hugh Reimers is moving on. Industry veteran Shawn Schiffer will take his place at the helm, a company spokesperson confirmed to WSD.  On top of his responsibility as president of Foley Family Wines, Shawn will also become ceo of Foley’s California … Continue reading “Foley Family Wines Gets New President”

Dear Client:Grupo Cuervo reported global net sales increase of nearly 4% and volumes were up 6.4% for the second quarter ended June 30, driven by performance in Mexico and the rest of the world. The US and Canada represented a good chunk of total sales (68%) and volumes (62%) for the quarter. Sales in the region … Continue reading “Cuervo Brass on Agave Prices, Distrib Consolidation & Meeting Demand”

Dear Client:Constellation Brands has acquired a minority stake in Colorado-based rum maker Montanya Distillers through its Constellation Brands Ventures’ Focus on Female Founders program, per a release. No financial details were disclosed. You may recall, Constellation announced the Focus on Female Founders program late last year. The company has earmarked $100 million to invest in female-founded … Continue reading “Constellation Takes Stake in Colorado Rum Distiller”