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Woodford Reserve Unveils Very Fine Rare Bourbon

Woodford Reserve Very Fine Rare Bourbon, a Master's Collection release.

Woodford Reserve has announced its latest Master’s Collection release, and the oldest whiskey released yet by the brand: Woodford Reserve Very Fine Rare Bourbon.

This new, limited expression also comes in a redesigned bottle.

The bourbon includes liquid from barrels 17 years old that date to 2003, the year that Chris Morris was named Woodford Reserve Master Distiller. Morris and Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall have held back these barrels to batch with others for a special release, the company says.

“The name Very Fine Rare Bourbon is a nod to the descriptors used by our ancestors to auction highly aged bourbon barrel lots,” says Morris, who’s also known in the industry as an encyclopedic whiskey historian. “While Woodford Reserve will always honor the past, this Master’s Collection is about the present and future.” 

Woodford Reserve Very Fine Rare Bourbon has a nose of sweet oak, caramel, brown sugar, chocolate and vanilla merged into a cured tobacco character brightened with apple fruit, the company reports. On the palate are old oak notes sweetened with honey balanced by a touch of citrus and apple peel, plus notes of clove spice. Company-provided tasting notes further describe the finish as raisin fruit and malty sweetness.

This year’s expression marks the 15th release for the Master’s Collection, created to reflect the “many discoveries and innovations” that occurred at the 1812 distillery site where Woodford Reserve is now located. Starting with the 2020 edition, all future master’s collections will focus on modern innovation by Morris and McCall.

The original Master’s Collection bottle design was shaped like a pot still, a nod to the stills used for distillation at Woodford Reserve Distillery. However, the new design references the classic flask-shaped Woodford bottle.

The 2020 Master’s Collection also marks the first time that McCall’s name will appear on the bottle hang tag since she was named Assistant Master Distillery in 2018. “What a fitting tribute to use these oldest barrels of Woodford Reserve to celebrate Chris Morris’ legacy while also looking to the future, “ McCall says. 

Woodford Reserve Very Fine Rare Bourbon is 90.4 proof. It is available in select retailers nationwide for a suggested retail price of $129.99 per 750-ml. bottle.

This new expression follows recent releases from the brand: the 2020 Holiday Bottle, Baccarat Edition and 2020 Batch Proof Bourbon, which was the last entry in the Master’s Collection.


Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Adds Platino, Reposado Tequilas

The Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia line now includes the Platino, Reposado and Extra Añejo tequilas.

Reserva de la Familia, the super-premium tequila line from Jose Cuervo, has expanded in the U.S. with the additions of Reposado and Platino.

Made at La Rojena, the oldest distillery in Latin America, this tequila was reserved for the Cuervo family’s private collection, the company says, until twenty-five years ago. In 1995, this private line extended to the public with limited small batch quantities of the Extra Añejo expression, named “Reserva de la Familia” after its pedigree.

Now the portfolio has announced the launch Reposado, aged in three different kinds of oak casks, and the return of the unaged Platino expression.

“Reserva de la Familia pays homage to Jose Cuervo’s legacy of crafting the finest tequila in the world,” says Alex Coronado, Jose Cuervo’s master distiller and head of production. “Each step is done by hand to ensure the purest expression of tequila. This artisanal process complements the true origins of Reserva de la Familia — which is the family’s belief that a special bottle is made exceptional when it’s sipped during intimate moments with the people you care about. Sharing a glass of Reserva de la Familia this season is more meaningful than ever.”

These releases come as the tequila category trends enormously in America. Retailers across the country have reported difficulty in keeping top-tier tequila bottles on the shelf, due to booming demand. This explosive category growth is expected to continue into 2021 and beyond.

Reserva de la Familia Platino displays strong notes of agave from the lack of aging, the company says. The suggested retail price is $65 per 750-ml. bottle.

Reserva de la Familia Reposado has flavors of baking spices from aging in heavily toasted American oak, the company reports, while aging in lightly toasted American and French oaks brings forward notes of toffee and vanilla. The suggested retail price is $85 per 750-ml. bottle.

Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo ages in a combination of small, new American and French oak barrels, charred at different levels. The result is a “rich, complex taste,” the company reports. Each year, the Jose Cuervo family commissions a Mexican artist to create a special-edition design, adorned on the wooden box in which each hand-numbered and -wrapped bottle is placed. The current edition was by Jorge Pardo, displaying jimadors working the fields of western Mexico. The suggested retail price is $189 per 750-ml. bottle.

Reserva de la Familia has also teamed with Spirits Network to provide a curated look at these sipping tequilas, along with offering Spirits Network members the chance to win a limited-edition 25th anniversary gift box with purchase of a bottle. Reserva de la Familia has also made a limited run of special-edition anniversary boxes available for gift through a collaboration with Cocktail Courier.


Beam Suntory Sells Windsor Canadian Whisky to Prestige Beverage Group

Windsor Canadian Whisky has changed hands, from Beam to Prestige Beverage Group.

Global drinks company Beam Suntory has sold the Windsor Canadian Whisky brand to the Minnesota-based Prestige Beverage Group.

Windsor is among the top-selling Canadian whiskies in the U.S.

“Windsor is a historic and beloved brand with deep roots and loyal consumers, which makes it the perfect addition to our growing wine and spirits portfolio,” says Scott Schilling, GM and CMO of Prestige. “Windsor has an incredible track record, and our team is excited for continued growth.” 

Under Prestige, Windsor will continue production by Alberta Distillers Limited, with availability across the U.S., Canada and beyond.

Windsor joins Prestige’s lineup of spirit brands, which includes Kinky Beverages, INDOGGO Gin (launched with Snoop Dogg), Joia Spirit and The Whistler Irish Whiskey

Windsor is made with grains grown near Calgary, Alberta, and the glacial-fed waters of Western Canada. Currently, Windsor’s offerings include original and Black Cherry-flavored Canadian Blended Whisky.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.


Suntory Brings Nonalcoholic Beer All-Free to America

The nonalcoholic beer Suntory All-Free has arrived in America.

Japanese distiller and brewer Suntory — known for its red-hot whisky brands — has introduced its sparkling nonalcoholic beer, All-Free, into the U.S. market. This comes as the nonalcoholic beer category continues to grow and improve in America.

Suntory’s All-Free has zero calories and 0.00% alcohol. It is a sparkling malt and hops beverage.

“The concept of All-Free was born from the deep desire to bring joy to consumers and change the perception that an active lifestyle and a delicious beer were incompatible,” says Yuichi Kato, the head of product development of All-Free at Suntory Beer Ltd. “We pride ourselves on innovation and we explored more than 400 formulas before finding the perfect recipe for All-Free. With the ideal balance between a refreshing aroma and crisp, light, satisfying flavor, we are so proud to introduce Japan’s favorite sparkling malt and hops beverage to the U.S. market and give American consumers a beer-like experience with zero calories and 0.00% alcohol.”

As with traditional beer, Suntory uses two-row barley malt, which contributes to the flavor of All-Free, while the aroma hops provide bitterness to the nose. All-Free is made with 100% Tennensui water, and natural flavors.

This recipe enables the removal of the fermentation process in production of this no-ABV beer.

All-Free is available now at retailers nationwide and on Amazon. The suggested retail price is $2.49 per 350-ml. can. Suntory All-Free also comes in a 4-pack and a 6-pack.

For more than 50 years, Suntory has brewed at its Musashino Brewery in Tokyo.


Chicken Cock 15-year Barrel Proof Whiskey

Chicken Cock 15 year

Grain & Barrel Spirits has announced a special-release Chicken Cock 15-year limited-edition holiday season barrel proof whiskey.

This is also known as the Chicken Cock Master Distiller’s Pick.

Only 1,300 bottles are available. Chicken Cock 15-year is 114 proof.

The suggested retail price is $300 per 750-ml. bottle.

Chicken Cock 15-year is available via retailers throughout the state of Kentucky and for purchase online.


Kentucky Owl Bourbon Batch No. 10, Rye Batch No. 4

Kentucky Owl Bourbon Batch No. 10 and Rye Batch No. 4.

Kentucky Owl has unveiled two new limited releases: Kentucky Owl Bourbon Batch No. 10 and Kentucky Owl Rye Batch No. 4.

For Kentucky Owl Bourbon Batch No. 10 blends older, oaky barrels with with more youthful, fruity and spice-driven selections, the company says. At 120.2-proof, this offering includes flavors of sweet caramel, toffee and vanilla, followed by floral fruity notes before finishing with a kick of spice on the back of the palate, the company reports.

Kentucky Owl Rye Batch No. 4, nicknamed “The Last Rye,” is 112.8-proof. It’s a blend of rye stocks aged 10-to-13 years that together bring a taste of rich oak, roasted almonds, caramel brittle and spiced dark cherry, the company reports. 

“The Last Rye Batch No. 4 is the final release in this series, bottling some of the last stocks of our rye blend in inventory that have continued to mature until the blend is at its peak,” says Master Blender Dixon Dedman. “It truly marks the end of an amazing journey for Kentucky Owl since the first rye release in 2017,”

The suggested retail price for both whiskies is $299.99 per 750-ml. bottle.


Mars Distillery Japanese Whiskies

The Mars Distillery lineup of Japanese whisky includes IWAI 45, Komagatake 2020 and Tsunuki the First.

Mars Distillery has announced three releases now available across the U.S.: IWAI 45, Komagatake 2020 and Tsunuki the First. 

IWAI 45 (pronounced “E-Y”) is named for Kiichiro Iwai, a pioneer in Japanese whisky. It’s a bourbon-style Japanese whisky, the company says. The most release of IWAI 45 increased the ABV to 45%. The suggested retail price is $34.99 per 750-ml. bottle. The IWAI line also features the blue label IWAI, mostly corn followed by malt and a hint of rye aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, the company says, and IWAI Tradition, a blending of sherry, bourbon, and wine casks with a dash of peat.

Komagatake 2020 represents the third release in this annual series. This is a single malt whisky aged for more than three years in sherry casks and American white oak make barrels. It has notes of prune, honey, and vanilla on the nose, the company reports, before sweet orange and cocoa powder on the palate. The suggested retail price is $169 per 750-ml. bottle.

Tsunuki the First is a single malt aged for more than three years in bourbon barrels and sherry casks. Tsunuki is the birthplace of Mars’ Hombo family, and its sea-level location results in higher humidity and fluctuating temperatures. This experiment with terroir has produced a rich whisky with sweetness like vanilla and maple syrup, the company says.

The Hombo family began producing shochu in 1909, and has since expanded their portfolio to include sake, neutral spirits, mirin, umeshu and whisky. They obtained their whisky license in 1949 with the help of their advisor, Kiichiro Iwai, and now operate out of two distilleries: Shinshu, the main distillery, built at 2,625 feet in the Nagano Alps; and Tsunuki, based in Kagoshima on Kyushu island, located near the southwest tip of Japan. Future whiskies will be produced at the Yakushima aging site, a Natural Heritage Site and subtropical jungle with Japanese cedar forests.

“It is very exciting to see the evolution of Mars as a producer, coming into this new decade,” says Kris Elliott, co-founder, High Road Spirits. “With IWAI 45, we have an innovative take on an American classic. Komagatake 2020 is one step closer to Mars having a house single malt, and for Tsunuki the First, we see a return to the origins of Mars’ whisky making which began in 1949.”


Regatta Craft Mixers New Can

Regatta Craft Mixers has a new 7.5-oz. sleek can.

Regatta Craft Mixers has announced the debut of its new 7.5-oz. sleek can 6-pack format.

This new packaging rolls out across all five flavors in the Regatta range: Regatta Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer, Regatta Light Ginger Beer, Regatta Dry Citrus Tonic, Regatta Royal Oak Ginger Ale and Regatta Pacific Sea Salt Club Soda.

The new 7.5-oz. sleek can 6-pack is available this month.

“Our consumers have spoken,” says Sam Zarou, Regatta Craft Mixers CEO. “They prefer the ease and convenience of 6-packs for those spontaneous (and planned) on-the-go occasions. We have heard them loud and clear. Rest assured, it’s the same great flavors and award-winning tastes they love in the can, but now in a better value, grab-and-go 6-pack so they can enjoy cocktails made with Regatta Craft Mixers wherever they are.”

“Convenient packaging is key, but we know our consumers also want products that share their values and enhance their lifestyle,” Zarou adds. “Regatta Craft Mixers are expertly crafted in small batches using the finest ingredients to appeal to these discerning customers. Our products are American-made, non-GMO project verified, and use the finest natural ingredients and no artificial preservatives. Simply said, our craft mixers make better cocktails and are now available in a 6-pack format that fits our consumer’s active and social lifestyles.”


Leading KY Retailer Liquor Barn Buys J’s Liquors

Liquor Barn of Kentucky has added to its growing number of stores with the purchase of J's Liquors.

Leading Kentucky beverage alcohol retailer Liquor Barn has announced the purchase of longtime Kentucky retailer J’s Liquors.

This deal includes J’s Liquors Tasting Bar and Cheese Shop and J’s Liquors–West Parrish in Owensboro, KY.

J’s Liquors has served the city of Owensboro for more than 65 years. The first store opened in 1955, with partners John “Hump” Tanner and Doc Oldham.

Hump is a local sports legend. After starring for the Owensboro High School and Centre College football teams, he played for the Toledo Maroons, Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Bulldogs in the National Football League of the 1920’s. Hump was Centre College’s starting quarterback during the famous October 29, 1921 college football game between Centre College vs. Harvard. in what is considered a major upset in college football history, Centre beat Harvard 6-0. Hump later became a teammate and friend of Jim Thorpe, the greatest athlete of the era.

For Hump’s many athletic accomplishments, his liquor store for many years was called Humps by the local residents.

Today, J’s Liquors is well known for its large selection of spirits, wine and beer, the company says, plus a popular tasting bar and cheese shop. Liquor Barn acquires the two J’s Liquors stores from the Oldham family, who has operated the businesses for the past several decades.

“We are thrilled to have J’s Liquors join the Liquor Barn family of Kentucky owned and operated liquor stores serving the Commonwealth,” says Liquor Barn Chairman Jonathan Blue. “We are committed to be exemplary custodians of these legacy stores. The acquisition of J’s Liquors continues our quest to become the leading retailer for spirits, wine, beer, cigars and specialty foods to our loyal and growing customer base in Kentucky. We are always proud to represent Kentucky and are grateful to our employees for continually thriving for excellence.”


Interview: The BeatBox Founders Talk Innovation, Brand Building

BeatBox Beverages cofounders Justin Fenchel, Amy Steadman and Brad Schultz.

Innovation and brand building are both at the heart of BeatBox Beverages. Launched in 2011, this portable wine punch in a colorful Tetra Pak box gained fame after earning investment from Mark Cuban on “Shark Tank.” From there, BeatBox continued to grow by tapping into a number of consumer trends: flavor variety, quality ingredients, convenience and community.

For a look at how this alternative-packing RTD has caught on with consumers, we recently spoke with cofounders Amy Steadman, Brad Schultz and Justin Fenchel.

Beverage Dynamics: You were early with the RTD trend. What did you see in 2011?

Amy Steadman: We started right after Four Loco, when a lot of the trends were catching up to what we saw back then as being next: the variety in flavors and alterative packaging. These trends were taking stuff from the nonalcoholic categories that people loved. You have to remember: our generation did not grow up with just one flavor of Gatorade; we grew up with many.

BD: Your product contains wine but is an RTD — the same category as vodka spritzers. Does the category need better definition?

Brad Shultz: Part of the RTD movement has been these blurred lines. People don’t care about what alcohol is in their RTD as long as they know that alcohol is a sipping-quality spirit, or uses great grapes and other ingredients. People spend money based on things like nutritional or brand appeal.

Justin Fenchel: Some of the spirits-based RTDs use bulk vodka or tequila. That’s crap. So there will be opportunity for brands to set themselves apart by using better-quality alcohol. The most important thing is: Does your RTD taste good? The number-one thing people care about is quality — even more than price or branding.

BeatBox is a wine punch that comes in a portable Tetra Pak box.

AS: People really look for those signifiers: gluten-free, low-calorie. No consumer really knows what alcohol is in most of these RTDs. For us, the building of brands and the customer connection, the lifestyle and the community — that’s what sets us apart.

BD: You often mention ‘community’ as key to your success.

JF: We’re all lovers of music festivals and we wanted to capture that in our brand. The events, the social aspect, the connection with consumers — all the experiences that you have at a music festival. We want drinking BeatBox at a music festival to be like drinking wine at Napa: you have that experience for life.

BS: We’ve done the work in building our community. We’re in our seventh year of running our brand ambassador program. People don’t want to hear from brands, they want to hear from their friends and people in their network. You can’t create that overnight.

BD: With digital communities becoming so critical, how important is authenticity nowadays?

JF: Authenticity is everything. We’re all bombarded daily with marketing images. Large companies don’t give consumers enough credit for sniffing out things that are not authentic. Some of the most popular things we have done were memes that went viral. If you’re not authentic, you can’t survive.

AS: We think of authenticity from a leadership perspective. We’re three friends who love music festivals and created a platform for that. You can’t create that without authenticity.

BD: What will the RTD landscape look like after the on-premise world reopens fully?

JF: Even as bars and restaurants reopen fully, people are going to be concerned about who’s squeezing the lime behind the bar, who’s making your drink. RTDs are single-serve, which should help them rule the day. We’re small right now in restaurants, but it’s something we are thinking about more. And we’re at pools and parks as a different way of serving drinks.

BS: Convenience is the ultimate luxury these days. Look no further than Netflix and Uber Eats.

BD: Your RTDs have higher ABV at the same time that low-cal, low-ABV, ‘healthier’ alcohol is trending. Thoughts?

AS: We see a lot of alcohol products marketing themselves as ‘healthy’, and we don’t know whether that’s responsible.

JF: I think that higher-ABV products still have a huge place in the market. Many people still like drinking alcohol to get a buzz. There’s a reason that Mike’s Harder Lemonade outsells Mike’s Hard.

Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or on Twitter @kswartzz. Read his recent piece Why RTDs Will Boom in 2021 and Beyond.