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The Lowdown on Low-Carb

Like so many trends, low-carb has enjoyed its heady days and at long last has begun to cool down. But as savvy marketers of beer, wine, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages know full well, it’s not going to disappear.

This Atkins-inspired, one-time craze leaves behind a legacy — a sizable group of people who remain committed to consuming fewer carbs. This translates into a niche profit opportunity for retailers and suppliers.

Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Ultra actually began the trend of low-carb beverages, and had huge initial sales in the marketplace.

Indeed, research indicates that Americans are showing signs of finding the golden mean in their eating and drinking habits. According to The NPD Group’s 19th Annual Report on Eating Patterns in America, “It appears that Americans are beginning to find a balance between the need for convenient, inexpensive meals and their expanding waistlines,” said Harry Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group.

“It seems the whole low-carb phenomenon is kind of on the wane,” noted David Henkes, principal and executive director of the Adult Beverage Insights Group for Chicago-based Technomic, Inc. “We’re seeing that in food as well as in beverages, where the interest seemed to peak probably six to eight months ago when everybody was jumping on the bandwagon. That’s not to say it won’t exist as a niche phenomenon.”

“In general, the low-carb trend has plateaued,” agreed Anishka Clarke, Beverage & Tobacco Analyst for Standard & Poor’s. “It’s still something that food and beverage manufacturers are aware of and taking into account with their products and future marketing plans, though. When it comes specifically to beverages, we see companies taking advantage of some of the positive aspects of spirits. For example, I believe spirits producers will take advantage of the fact that their products may have zero carbohydrate content, and that their labeling can now include that they have zero carb content,” Clarke said.

Indeed, low-carb-inspired cocktails are now springing up on drink lists, in a variety of books and publications and in suppliers’ merchandising materials. And the ever-growing cocktail culture is increasing awareness of zero-carb spirits.

Michelob Ultra Starts Trend

Still, the major low-carb beverage alcohol players, at least in positioning, are the beer producers. It began with the debut of Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Ultra, in the fall of 2002. The new brand boasted 2.6 grams of carbohydrates and 96 calories, an apparent no-brainer for beer consumers who also obsessed about their waistlines. By by the end of 2003, the brand had sold 41 million 2.25-gallon cases to become the 10th best-selling beer in the U.S. And although the rate of Ultra’s growth has slowed, A-B says the brand is doing just fine.

Meanwhile, after Ultra exploded on the market, Labatt USA (now InBev) followed with Rock Green Light, which claimed 2.6 grams of carbohydrates and less than 92 calories. And the brand shipped 1 million cases after its first three months on the market. Soon, however, Ultra’s phenomenal success was met by a formidable challenge from SABMiller, which began trumpeting that the venerable Miller Lite, while low in calories, was also low in carbs. The ad campaign, begun more than a year ago, turned into a tremendous success, and was countered by A-B’s own ad campaign exclaiming that Bud Light was also low in carbs.

LIVEprdROCKRolling Rock’s Rock Green Light used a low-carb proposition to drive a successful launch for the much smaller brand.

According to Rob Olejniczak, marketing director, Miller Trademark, Miller is using the low-carb angle, “as a springboard from which to talk about our products’ attributes with consumers. We’re capitalizing on Miller Lite’s product benefit by simply pointing out the facts: that Miller Lite has 96 calories and 3.2 grams of carbs.”

“This ‘Amazing Facts’ ad campaign has simply been about Miller Lite facts,” added Erv Frederick, vice president, Trademark Marketing, Miller Brewing Company. “Because there has been a lot of focus on carbs, it’s important for us to let consumers know that there’s a significant difference between Miller Lite and the other mainstream light beers.”

For its part, Coors came out with Aspen Edge low-carb beer last spring, hoping that it would not cannibalize sales of Coors Light, the company’s sales engine.

Still, “carb-mania is beginning to subside,” noted Olejniczak,”but carb-consciousness and the demand for great taste will stay with us for a long time, and we’ll manage our brands accordingly.”

In fact, in October, a new Miller TV campaign zeroed in not on carbs but rather direct taste comparisons between Miller Lite and Bud Light, and between Miller Genuine Draft and Budweiser.

Opportunity for Others

“Today we all know at least a few people who’re on low-carb diets,” said Yuri Kato, the publisher of www.CocktailTimes.com. “I think people realize what we drink is as important as what we eat.”

MOJITOSpirits companies are beginning to make consumers aware of the zero-to-low carb content of their products. For example, a Mojito contains just 4 grams of

Aside from the profitability of low-carb drinks, he reasoned, the trend also gives the industry “an opportunity to educate consumers about distilled spirits. People know that beer contains higher carb (content) than wine or spirits, but not a lot of people know that the majority of distilled spirits contain zero carbs.”

A ruling issued by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) last April, said that the term “low-carbohydrate” could be used in the labeling and advertising of alcoholic beverages containing no more than 7 grams of carbs per serving. The ruling prohibits false, misleading or implied statements that consumption of low-carb alcohol may play a role in maintaining a healthy weight or in weight reduction.

Standard & Poor’s said soon after the new ruling that it expected spirits and wine manufacturers to take advantage of it, as beer companies had already done. In an industry survey published in early September 2004, S&P’s noted that, “spirits companies, whose products for the most part have no carbohydrates, can devote additional resources entirely to marketing without having to invest in reformulating. Similarly, wine companies can also take advantage.”

In fact, last April, Diageo Chateau and Estate Wines (DC&E), part of Diageo, announced that three of its wine brands — BV Coastal Estates, Sterling Vintner’s Collection and a new brand offering, Century Cellars — all met the definition of a “low-carb” alcohol beverage as recently established by the TTB.

DC&E began producing point-of-sale materials, including bottle neckers and in-store displays, informing consumers that the three brands did, in fact, meet the new TTB guidelines. Also included in the point-of-sale information is other macro-nutritional information, such as fat, protein, calories and serving size. For example, materials for BV Coastal Estates 2002 Chardonnay include the fact that the wine contains 3 grams of carbohydrates, 124 calories, 0 grams of fat and less than 1 gram of protein per five-ounce serving.AspenEdgebottle

Coors Brewing got into the low-carb game last year with Aspen Edge.

“We have not developed any specific products that are low-carb,” noted Zsoka McDonald, director of media relations for Diageo North America. “We have been educating consumers about the low-carb nature of some of our products. We did an education campaign across several of our spirits brands last year. There were some events around the Super Bowl, and a bit of advertising about the low-carb nature of some of our products like Tanqueray, Smirnoff, Cuervo, Crown Royal, and Johnnie Walker.”

The firm’s research shows that consumers “want to know what is in the food and beverages they are consuming in general,” said McDonald. “Consumers are more concerned about carbs and other macro-nutrients. So we’ve actually gone a step further and supported some of the consumer groups that have called for labeling on alcoholic beverages.”

Educational work needs to be done. According to a survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, a leading global survey-based market research group working on behalf of Diageo, 63 percent of Americans did not know that spirits like vodka, tequila, gin and whisky are lower in carbs than wine and beer. These spirits, according to Guy Smith, Diageo’s executive vice president, “have no carbs.”

Lower-Carb Wines

Industry insiders are divided about how well low-carb wines will be accepted. Thus far, most of the attention has been garnered by Brown-Forman, which has rolled out One.6 Chardonnay and One.9 Merlot. Both are named after the number of carbohydrates per five-ounce serving. Each is produced by California-based StonyBrook Vineyards.

Brown-Forman Wines debuted One.6 and One.9 nationwide last year, hoping to establish low-carb wines as a viable niche on retailers’ shelves.

Low-carb wines are produced from blends that are naturally lower in carbs. A lot of variation can be found in the carbohydrate levels from different regions and even from micro-climate to micro-climate. The One.6 Chardonnay is light-bodied, fresh and crisp with a hint of melon and citrus fruits. The One.9 Merlot is smooth and medium-bodied with flavors of cherry, blackberry and traces of oak, according to the company. A six-ounce serving of the One.6 Chardonnay has 1.9 grams of carbohydrates and a six-ounce serving of the One.9 Merlot has 2.2 grams of carbohydrates.

“It’s one of those no-brainers. When there are other (brands) doing exceptionally well, wine should be participating as strongly,” says Andrew Varga, global brand director at Brown-Forman Wines. B-F, perhaps best known for Jack Daniel’s whiskey, owns several wine brands including Fetzer and Bolla, and markets others including Korbel and Michel Picard.

The low-carb idea was hatched before last fall’s harvest. Winemaker Cara Morrison crafted the wines by choosing the right varietals and “fermenting them as dry as you can” to cut the sugar, Varga said.

One.6 and One.9 wines are available in retail stores throughout the U.S. and sell for $9.99 to $11.99 for a 750 ml bottle. Among major national retail chains carrying the brands are Albertson’s, Safeway, RiteAid, Target, and Wal-Mart.

Mixing The Old And New


Ireland is a land of contrasts and contradictions, a place where the ancient and the recent blend together seamlessly. Known around the globe for its traditional music and dancing through such spectacles as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance, it’s also home to one of the world’s most popular and modern-sounding rock bands, U2. What was long considered the last peasant country in Europe is now the world’s second-largest exporter of software after the U.S.

This same dichotomy can be seen in Ireland’s two main spirits exports — Irish whiskeys and Irish creams. The first traces its origins back one and a half millennia to Irish monks who brought the secret of distilling to the Emerald Isle. The intoxicating potion they created was called uisge beatha (water of life). Irish creams, on the other hand, are a creation of the modern world, having been launched just 30 years ago with the debut of Baileys Original Irish Cream. Today, Baileys is one of the most recognized spirits brands in the world and is two-and-one-half times larger than the combined sales of all Irish whiskey brands in the U.S.

Category Growth Seen in ’04

Although Irish can claim to be the world’s oldest whiskey, it remains the smallest in sales volume, not only of whiskeys, but of all distilled spirits categories in the U.S. The collective category only broke the half-million case barrier for the first time in 2004 and its share of the entire distilled spirits market remains well below 1%. Relative to itself, however, Irish whiskey is a dynamic and exciting category and has enjoyed a double-digit growth rate over the last decade that is the envy of the entire industry.

Leading the way for Irish whiskey in the U.S. market is Jameson, the flagship of Pernod Ricard’s Irish portfolio, which also recently surpassed Power’s to become the number-one Irish whiskey in Ireland. A big reason for the brand’s success is that it has a year-round marketing budget and a level of support not enjoyed by most of the category’s other brands. “We just launched a very dynamic new advertising campaign for Jameson in November,” explained Suzanne Freedman, who handles marketing for all of Pernod Ricard USA’s Irish brands. “It’s a print, radio, outdoor and Internet effort. Essentially the premise behind the campaign is that Jameson is a great-tasting whiskey. Basically, what we’re trying to impart to the consumer through this ad campaign is that there are many reasons why people think Jameson is so popular, but at the end of the day, people just love the way it tastes.”

Irish Brands “Own” St. Pat’s Day

As might be expected, the period around St. Patrick’s Day has been the most important for Irish whiskeys, as it is for just about everything Irish. It’s no secret why The Chieftains and other major names in Irish music can be found on U.S. tours in March. “Irish brands are fortunate in that they are able to experience two holidays, not just the November/December Christmas holiday, but they own St. Patrick’s Day,” said Freedman. “However, over the past two-to-three years Jameson has actually been growing at a faster rate outside those two holiday periods than it does during them. That’s really good news for us, because it means that the brand is de-seasonalizing itself and becoming more of a mainstream, year-round whiskey brand.”

Case Card2Jameson, the category leader, has seen sales increase by 15% to 18% annually over the past few years.

Still, the March 17th period remains an important part of the overall Jameson marketing mission. “We support the holidays tactically with materials for the trade, for the consumers to engage in different types of promotions, value-added packaging and gift packaging, festive case cards and displays,” continued Freedman. “However, we engage in high-level promotions outside St. Patrick’s Day as well.” Examples she cited include a Jameson and ginger ale summer promotion with co-packs and a new rack display program that won’t be available to retailers until early April. Starting in April, Jameson will also be launching a consumer recruitment program that will tie in with different concerts and offer consumer sampling opportunities.

For Bushmills, however, the big deal is always in March. “Bushmills really puts everything into St. Patrick’s Day,” said Freedman. “Everything we do stresses the Irishness of the brand.” And the brand has been growing by 5% to 7% annually. “The fact is we’re very excited about the brand,” Freedman said.

BushmillsBushmills targets St. Patrick’s Day and the “Irishness” of the brand in its merchandising materials.

For St. Patrick’s Day this year, one of Bushmills’ efforts will be tie-ins with American beer brands that will vary from market to market, using an Irish-American theme.

Rounding out the Pernod Ricard USA Irish whiskey selections are: Power’s, which Freedman concedes that because of its price, quality and popularity among the Irish, is growing at about 10% a year without any marketing efforts; Red Breast, a $45 per bottle whiskey, of which the U.S. is only allocated about 2,000 cases a year, and at the top of the price heap, Midleton, an excellent whiskey which she refers to as being “in that sort of $100 range.”

Other brand executives are also enthusiastic about the prospects for the entire Irish whiskey category. “The whole Irish category, the Irish phenomenon is continuing in the United States, which augurs very well for all the brands,” said Mark Marcon, senior brand manager, C&C portfolio, which includes Tullamore Dew, for Allied Domecq. “Tullamore Dew itself just continues to grow. There’s just such awareness of the whole Irish category that virtually anything you do is going to work if you’ve got a powerful brand in that category itself. It’s very much a voyage of discovery for this whiskey aficionado.” Marcon also said, “The numbers show a turnaround in Scotch whisky, even blended Scotch whisky. You’ve seen a turnaround in Canadian whisky. You’ve seen the dynamic growth in Irish whiskey. There’s been a true appreciation for brown goods again. But within that category, the one that’s growing the fastest is Irish.”Tullamore

Tullamore Dew, from Allied Domecq, has continued its annual growth, and while small, is the third best-selling Irish whiskey in the U.S.

Alan Lewis, senior vice president, sales & marketing, for Dublin-based brand owner C&C International, said, “With Tullamore Dew we intend to exceed the category growth by exploiting what we call a ‘building block’ program, building the brand in three or four markets each year by overinvesting in those markets and then following up with continued support in those markets.”

“One of the most amazing things I’m seeing now when I go out to liquor stores, even in the control states, is Irish whiskey sections,” continued Marcon. “All of a sudden you’re not just another whiskey, you’re a category now. And for the liquor boards and the independent stores and the chains to recognize that there’s an Irish whiskey category is a big step forward for us.”

In addition to the category’s major brands, in recent years there’s been an exciting expansion of the Irish whiskey selection as a number of companies have stepped up and found a bevy of brands to offer consumers.

Rum’s Rising Star


New expressions and new flavors drive rum to new heights.

By Robert Plotkin

0607rmSales of rum last year continued soaring skyward, posting increases of 6.6% to about 20.8 million 9-liter cases, according to Adams Beverage Group Research. It now ranks as the second largest category of spirits in the U. S., with flavored rums accounting for roughly a third of the category’s sales. 0607rm1

John Gomez, group marketing director for Bacardi, thinks that much of rum’s success can be attributed to its unrivaled mixability. “Existing consumers are responding to the proposition of mixed drinks made with rum, as evidenced by the growing popularity of the Mojito. Rum gives a cocktail personality. Seventy-one million people turned or will turn the legal drinking age from 1997 and 2015. That expanding population will only bolster rum’s overall franchise.”

Jeffery Zarnow, ceo of Starr African Rum, agreed that the cocktail culture has propelled rum to the forefront, adding that the Mojito has become the third most ordered drink in New York City.

Stuart Kirby of Captain Morgan and Diageo added that rum’s broad market appeal explains the category’s dynamic growth. “The primary market segments for rum are men and women between the ages of 21-29. Its rich flavors, mixability and affordability make the whole category attractive to consumers.”

According to E. Malcolm B. Gosling, the seventh generation of the family that first produced Gosling rums, “Historically, rum producers did not market the spirit to its full potential. But in this age of consolidation, the larger companies are now successfully managing rum, and through their marketing efforts, consumers and critics are recognizing the many attributes of rum. Frankly, it’s no longer seen only as the product that makes drinks with cute little umbrellas.” BigAppleLegalshot copy

Bacardi Big Apple is the latest flavor to debut from the best-selling rum in the U.S.

Gosling added that “a lot of entry-level consumers are being attracted to the category through the flavored rums. This actually translates into consumers who develop a long-term loyalty for the category, and as they grow older, they develop more interest in the aged rums.”

“Look for the superpremium segment of the rum category to grow rapidly now,” emphasized Lori Tiezen, senior vice president at Moët Hennessy, importer of the new superpremium 10 Cane Rum. “As more upper echelon rums become available, expect to see a significant exodus of consumers from the other spirit categories.”

Another propelling force in rum’s climb to stardom is the American consumer’s continuing education into the differences between spirits. Enthusiasts and aficionados are becoming more knowledgeable about rum, the nuances between the different appellations and quality factors such as methods of distillation, water source and aging styles.


Category leader Bacardi remains the brand most consumers think of when they choose rum. Bacardi’s sales in the U.S. grew 3.8% to nearly 8.5 million 9-liter cases in 2004, almost double that of second place Captain Morgan. The company also holds the fourth sales slot in the market with Castillo Rum, which last year hit 1.2 million cases sold. ParrotBay.Mango

Parrot Bay is part of the expanding Captain Morgan franchise.

Their world-famous range now includes Bacardi Carta Blanc, Superior Gold, Bacardi Select and Bacardi Añejo. Superpremium Añejo Bacardi 8 Reserva Superior is crafted from an 1862 recipe, a blend of continuous-distilled and pot-distilled rums and aged a minimum of 8 years in charred American white oak barrels.

Bacardi has maintained its strong presence in the flavored rum segment. The company’s flavor portfolio includes Bacardi O (orange), Limón (citrus infused), Bacardi Razz (raspberry), Bacardi Vanila (vanilla) Bacardi Cocó (coconut) and new Bacardi Big Apple Rum. The company also recently debuted the Island Breeze line of low-calorie rum-based spirits. Featuring only 48 calories per 1.5-oz. serving, the line comes in three flavors: Key Lime, Coconut and Wild Berry.

Diageo has firm control of the second and seventh sales slots with Captain Morgan and Myers’s, respectively. Captain Morgan grew a hefty 12.9% to more than 4.7 million 9-liter cases. This volume includes the Parrot Bay line extension, which increased almost 38% to just over 600,000 cases. Diageo recently extended the Captain Morgan range with the release of Captain Morgan Tattoo, a black spiced rum with a “sweet-to-heat” finish.

Not resting on its laurels, the Parrot Bay range, which already includes Parrot Bay Pineapple, Parrot Bay Coconut and Parrot Bay Mango, added a fourth with the launch of Parrot Bay Passion Fruit. “Its introduction will fill consumers’ growing demand for increased versatility in cocktail options,” said Hernando Ruiz-Jimenez, vice president and national brand group director.

Diageo’s Myers’s Original Jamaican Rum is comprised of a blend of nine different rums that are each aged up to four years in white oak barrels. The range also includes Myers’s Platinum Jamaican Rum, a clear, lighter version of the famed original. Island_Breeze_Family

Bacardi has also introduced Island Breeze, a line of rum-based, low-calorie spirits in three flavors.

Sitting alone in the third spot is Malibu Caribbean Rum, which after 20 years continues to be the best-selling coconut-flavored rum in the U.S. Its sales surged 25% in 2004 to 1.3 million cases. Following the successful introduction of Malibu Mango and Malibu Pineapple Caribbean Rums, the brand has expanded its franchise with this year’s rollout of Malibu Passion Fruit Rum.

Imported by Jim Beam, Ronrico Puerto Rican Rums is the fifth best-selling brand. Made at the Serrallès Distillery, the popular range includes a white and gold version, as well as three flavors, Vanilla, Citrus and Pineapple Coconut. “Ronrico appeals to a wide demographic because of its high quality, great taste, outstanding value and varied offerings,” said brand director Carl Larsen.

Cruzan Rum holds down the sixth spot with annual sales of 435,000 cases, an increase in 2004 of 14.5%. Among its all-star lineup of Virgin Island rum is Cruzan Black Strap, a blend of medium- to heavy-bodied aged rums that is barrel-aged after blending. The rum has so many layers of refined flavors that it drinks a bit like an alembic brandy. Cruzan Single Barrel Estate is a limited production, handcrafted spirit made from a blend of triple-distilled rums. The constituent rums are aged up to twelve years in oak bourbon barrels and recasked for secondary aging. Malibu Passion Fruit 750ml

Malibu Passion Fruit is the latest addition to the Malibu line of flavored rums.

Cruzan is another pioneer of the flavored rum segment. Made in St. Croix, the 55-proof rums are triple-distilled and aged in oak bourbon barrels between two and three years, after which, they’re filtered and natural flavorings are added. The distillery’s flavor portfolio has grown to eight with the 2004 additions of Cruzan Raspberry Rum and Cruzan Mango Rum. [New to Cruzan’s repertoire is a line of 30-proof fruit-based liqueurs called Shakka, a Hawaiian word meaning “How’s it going?” Created with bartenders in mind, the highly mixable liqueurs come in three flavors — grape, kiwi and apple — and carry a suggested retail price of $19.95.]

Another brand that also has risen in popularity along with its flavors is Whaler’s, from Heaven Hill Distilleries. Sales of these classic Hawaiian spirits continue to grow along with the category. Whaler’s Original Vanille is a dark, aromatic rum infused with natural vanilla flavors. The Whaler’s line also includes Killer Coconut, Pineapple Paradise and Big Island Banana.

Sales of Mount Gay continued climbing in 2004, increasing by 3.8% to 190,000 cases. Imported by the newly named Remy Cointreau USA, Mount Gay is the oldest and most recognized brand of the Barbadian rums. The prestigious line includes best-selling Mount Gay Eclipse, Special Reserve and Mount Gay Extra Old, a blend of the oldest, most prized rums in the Mount Gay reserves. Whalers.casecard

Whaler’s Original Rum has also used flavored line extensions to help grow sales.

“I believe consumers care increasingly more about the rum in their glass,” said Nicolas Guillant, national brand manager for Mount Gay. “There is still a lot of education to be done, but we are moving towards creating a far better understanding of rum. Contrary to vodkas, rums are unique and one can perceive the differences easily. We believe consumers can taste the quality that goes in every one of our bottles.”

In 2004, the distillery launched its first flavors with Mount Gay Vanilla and Mount Gay Mango. Both of the 70-proof blend of Mount Gay Eclipse rum and natural flavors — Madagascar vanilla and Mexican mangos.

Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum had a banner year in 2004, increasing sales 18% up to 144,000 cases. Imported by Brown-Forman, the distillery’s flagship is the altogether luxurious Appleton Estate 21-Year Old, a blend of pot-distilled and continuous-distilled Jamaican rum aged in American white oak barrels for a minimum of 21 years.

“I believe that the majority of consumers are in the initial discovery phase when it comes to añejo rums,” said Chuck Shive, brand manager for Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum. “They’re discovering that ‘sipping’ rums are equal in quality with other premium spirits and that aged rums make fabulous cocktails and drinks.” Raspberry 750

One of the leaders in flavored rums, Cruzan’s latest version is this Raspberry Rum.

The Appleton Estate range includes popular Appleton Estate V/X, Appleton Estate Extra, and new to the U.S., Appleton White Jamaica Rum, an aged rum slowly filtered to remove all trace of color.

For its part, Gosling’s will celebrate its 200th anniversary next year. Its flagship brand, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, a dark rum aged and blended in Bermuda according to the secret family recipe, actually dates to 1860, and it has become the basic ingredient for famous Dark ‘n Stormy cocktail, made with ginger beer.

This year, the company introduced its first new product in more than a century, Gosling’s Gold. The 80-proof product ($17.99 suggested retail) combines rums from both pot stills and continuous stills, with a smooth and rich taste. It can be served neat or mixed in fruit-based cocktails.

Available across the U.S., Gosling’s has launched a significant marketing campaign to educate American consumers about the brand. A new company has been formed, based in New England, to spearhead the marketing effort in the U.S. Called Gosling-Castle Brands, its president and ceo is E. Malcolm B. Gosling, whose family has run the company for seven generations.


Rum is a global phenomenon. While most spirits are associated with a small handful of originating countries, rum is handcrafted across a wide range of latitudes. The following is a selection of new and noteworthy rums not mentioned above.

Both Mount Gay Vanilla
and Mount Gay Mango
debuted last year and
have seen success in
the market.


* 10 Cane Rum (Imported by Moet Hennessy USA). From Trinidad, this superpremium rum distilled from the first pressing of the cane grown in rich, volcanic soil. The brand exudes elegance. It’s crafted in copper alembic stills and aged in small French oak barrels for six months. The introduction of 10 Cane Rum is glad tidings for the growing legions of people who appreciate ultra-fine silver rums.

* Angostura (Imported by Angostura USA). A line of premium Trinidadian rums made from blends of molasses-based, continuous-distilled rums and aged in charred, American oak barrels. Its top marks are 8-year-old Angostura 1919 and Angostura 1824 Limited Reserve, which is aged for 12 years and then recasked.

* B.R.N.I.R. (Castle Brands of New York). Short for British Royal Navy Imperial Rum, it is likely the rarest, most exclusive rum available in the U.S. From 1655 to 1970, this was the rum doled out to sailors in Her Majesty’s Navy. Since 1970, this blend of pure pot still rums from Jamaica and Guyana has rested in vast underground warehouses in England. It is imported in wicker-encased demijohns.

* Brugal Añejo (Shaw-Ross). While the entire line is finding success in the U.S., it’s the three-year-old Brugal Añejo that’s garnering critical acclaim. Made in the Dominican Republic, the rum has a long lasting finish and a modest price tag.

* Charbay Rum (Domaine Charbay). Created at family-owned Domaine Charbay in St. Helena, CA, this superpremium rum is triple-distilled in an alembic Charentais pot still from a proprietary blend of Hawaiian and Caribbean sugar cane syrup. The producer also markets Charbay Tahitian Vanilla Rum, which is infused with Tahitian vanilla beans. Both are priced at $38 per 750 ml.

* Doorley’s X. O. (Spirits of Hartford). A superpremium Barbadian rum produced by R. L. Seale & Company made from a blend of molasses-based, barrel-aged spirits and finished with a second maturation in sherry oak casks.

* English Harbour Extra Old Rum (Antigua Distillery Ltd.). An elegant spirit from Antigua comprised of a blend of bourbon-barrel aged rums up to 21 years old.

* Flor de Caña Centenario (Shaw-Ross). Made in Nicaragua from a blend of molasses-based, continuous-distilled rums, Centenario is a sublime spirit aged in small oak barrels for no less than 21 years.

Leading Brands of Rum

(Thousands of 9-Liter Cases)

Brand Supplier 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 % Chg
Bacardi Bacardi USA 7,400 7,660 7,800 8,140 8,450 3.8%
Captain Morgan Diageo 3,260 3,575 3,933 4,215 4,759 12.9%
Malibu Allied Domecq
Spirits USA
850 930 940 1,040 1,300 25.0%
Castillo Bacardi USA 1,100 1,150 1,167 1,195 1,200 0.4%
Ronrico Jim Beam Brands 497 534 560 560 535 -4.5%
Cruzan Rum Cruzan
International, Inc.
229 304 340 380 435 14.5%
Myers’s Diageo 315 305 303 295 300 1.7%
Barton Rum Barton Brands 140 150 157 173 195 12.7%
Mount Gay Remy Amerique 162 168 178 183 190 3.8%
Monarch Rum Hood River
160 165 168 175 178 1.7%
Total Leading Brands 14,113 14,941 15,546 16,356 17,542 7.3%
Others 2,879 2,929 3,016 3,153 3,258 3.3%
Total Rum 16,992 17,870 18,562 19,509 20,800 6.6%

* Gosling’s Family Reserve Rum (Castle Brands of New York). Crafted at Bermuda’s oldest surviving business, Gosling’s Family Reserve Rum is made from the same blend of rums as the famed Black Seal, but aged considerably longer in oak. The result is a rich and complex 80 proof rum ($70 suggested retail).

* Grand Havana (Grand Havana Rum Corp. of Miami). Now made on Grenada, Grand Havana Rum is a Cuban-styled spirit double-distilled in copper pot stills and matured in sherry casks for up to seven years.

Gosling’s Black Seal Rum is being presented in this co-pack with Bermuda Ginger beer, which makes the renowned Dark ‘n Stormy drink.

* Inner Circle Rums (Spirits of Hartford) — These classic rums date to 1873 and are pot-distilled from sugar cane grown in Fiji and Australia. The range includes an 80 proof, 90 proof, 115 proof and a 151 overproof.

* Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva (Skyy Spirits). Gran Reserva is solera aged approximately 15 years and comprised of rums between 8- and 32-years old. These barrel-aged rums are produced by several West Indies distilleries.

* Montecristo (Side Bar Spirits). The brand is made in Guatemala from a premium blend of continuous-distilled and pot-distilled rums. The constituent elements are further aged in American ex-bourbon barrels between 12- and 23-years.

* Oronoco (Diageo). This handcrafted superpremium from Brazil’s rainforest is triple-distilled from fresh cane juice and blended with well-aged Venezuelan rums.

* Pampero Anniversario (Diageo). This highly acclaimed, special reserve rum comes from Venezuela and is a super-premium blend of pot still and continuous still rums aged in oak barrels a minimum of eight years. It has an entrancing color that is a sight to behold.

* Prichard’s Fine Rum (Prichard’s). Made in Kelso, TN, Prichard’s is the closest representation of a traditional American rum that exists. It’s made from sugar cane molasses from Louisiana, spring water and five times distilled in copper pot stills. To ensure smoothness it’s aged in small American white oak barrels. The distillery’s range also includes Prichard’s Crystal Rum (80 proof), Prichard’s Cranberry Rum (70 proof) and Sweet Georgia Belle, a savory peach and mango rum-based liqueur (70 proof). 10cane_rum

Made in Trinidad, the superpremium 10 Cane Rum was recently introduced by Moet Hennessy USA.

* Pyrat XO Reserve (Patrón Spirits). Made on the island of Anguilla, Pyrat XO Reserve is a blend of pot still rums matured in French oak according to the Solera aging system. The rums in the blend have a range in age from 8-40 years.

* Rhum Barbancourt Estate du Domaine (Crillion Importers). — This sophisticated rhum agricole is double-distilled in Haiti from fresh cane juice and aged a minimum of 15 years in French oak barrels. The extended aging has a profound affect on the rhum.

* Rhum Clément (Clément USA). Made since 1887 and once again available in the U.S., estate-bottled Rhum Clément is one of the preeminent rhum agricoles, a traditional style of rum in which fresh cane juice is distilled, rather than molasses. The range includes Clément Première Canne, an ultra-premium silver rhum; Clément Créole Shrubb, an 80-proof liqueur made from silver and aged rhums and orange peels; and Clément V.S.O.P. Rhum, an exemplary barrel-aged rhum.

* Sea Wynde British Royal Navy Rum (Castle Brands). Sea Wynde is an ultra-premium rum made from a blend of pot still rums from Jamaica and Guyana. The rums were aged in oak casks from five to eleven years old.

* Starr African Rum (Starr African Rum LLC of Beverly Hills). Distilled from sugar cane grown on the African island of Mauritius, the column-distilled rum is light-bodied, aromatic and brilliantly flavored. It’s marketed in an attention-grabbing red pyramid-shaped bottle.

* Zaya Gran Reserva (Wilson Daniels). A masterful superpremium made in Guatemala by La Nacional. The gran reserva rum is double-distilled in copper pot stills and aged in oak barrels for 12 years. *

ROBERT PLOTKIN is a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and author of numerous books including Caribe Rum ­ The Original Guide to Caribbean Rum and Drinks. He can be reached at BarMedia, 1-800-421-7179, or e-mail him at robert@barmedia.com.

70 Years of Industry Leadership

70 Years of Industry Leadership


06The Repeal of Prohibition had been in effect for just over a year when a publication called Liquor Store & Dispenser debuted in beverage alcohol outlets across the U.S. Its purpose was to provide a service to the retail trade by addressing a wide range of issues critical to the business of selling beverage alcohol product. Indeed, the editorial in the January 1935 issue was titled, “Successful Merchandising,” an area of focus that is no less important to retailers today. 0507an

In the past 70 years, the magazine has gone through a number of evolutionary steps, as has the industry it covers. By the 1950s, the magazine was simply called Liquor Store, a title that remained until the late 1980s. By then, it was obvious that the American consumer had changed and so had the beverage alcohol retailer, who, unless prohibited by state law, had expanded his product selection beyond wine, beer and spirits. With that in mind, the magazine’s name was changed to Beverage Dynamics, primarily to reflect the increasingly “dynamic” nature of the beverage alcohol industry.

Throughout the 1990s, we increased our distribution to channels beyond traditional wine and spirits shops, to supermarket chains, convenience and drug outlets and eventually to mass merchandisers, keeping abreast of the retail changes that continue to affect the beverage alcohol industry today. At the same time, we’ve maintained our focus on the independent beverage alcohol operation, whether single store or chain, and evolved with them. For example, for many of our readers, the merchandising of beverage alcohol and foods have become increasingly important, as have the synergies of various categories of non-alcohol beverages, and we’ve increased coverage in those areas to keep up with the changes. Even more importantly, we’ve tried to keep our readers apprised of the latest changes in retail technology, with the ascendancy of the Internet and our computerized world.

Through it all, our mission has remained the same: to serve beverage alcohol retailers by providing them with timely, incisive coverage of their industry.

What follows, then, is a 70-year retrospective of the beverage alcohol industry as presented in the pages of Beverage Dynamics and its earlier incarnations over the past seven decades.

Call for Entries

THE ANNUAL Beverage Dynamics

The Beverage Dynamics Advertising & Promotion Awards competition is designed to recognize and honor excellence and creativity in advertising, promotion, merchandising and packaging for the beverage industry. Also included are materials designed for restaurant and bar merchandising and promotion. Entries are judged for creativity, effectiveness as a sales communication tool and production quality. All winning entries will be featured and credited in Beverage Dynamics magazine. Please note the general rules and specific preparation instructions for each category.


What Is Eligible

  • Any original material appropriate to the categories defined below, introduced to the market between April 2004 and May 2005.

How to Enter

  • Prepare entries as specified under each category heading. Photocopies of entry form
    are permitted. Fill out entry form for each entry, submit in duplicate (one copy attached
    to the back of the actual entry; the second attached to the entry fee check). If more
    than five entries are being submitted, please provide a manifest list to ensure that all
    items are accounted for. All entries become the property of Beverage Dynamics.


  • Entry forms will be used for award certificates and publication of winners in Beverage Dynamics. Entrant is responsible for supplying full and accurate information. Promotion/advertising/graphic agencies submitting materials on behalf of clients are responsible for notifying client of participation in this program.

Entry Fee

  • The entry fee is $175 per entry and is non-refundable. Check must accompany entries. (For multiple entries submit one check, attach all duplicate entry forms.) Make check payable to Adams Beverage Group.

Where to Send Entries

  • All entries must be received at the editorial offices of Beverage Dynamics,
    17 High St., 2nd Floor, Norwalk, CT 06851


  • 5 p.m., Wednesday, July 22, 2005.

Judging and Awards

  • Entries will be judged on the following criteria: creativity, effectiveness as a sales
    communications tool and production values. Winners in each category will receive
    award certificates, and winning entries will appear in Beverage Dynamics.

More Information

  • If you have any questions about the Advertising & Promotion Awards, call Richard Brandes, 212-353-3832.

Categories, Instructions and Definitions

Print Advertising (Categories #1-10)

Submit actual print ads, mounted on black display board with a minimum 1-inch border on all sides. Attach each copy of the entry form to back of the board. For campaign, hinge vertical sides together with black tape (“accordion” style, not “book” style.) Bound supplements (for category #8) may be placed in a plastic sleeve, then the sleeve mounted. All print entries must be accompanied by a high-resolution (300 dpi, at least 2″ X 3″) jpeg image of each entry on CD. Companies submitting more than one entry in categories 1-10 may gang all images on one CD. Please clearly label each image (category, subject) on the CD.

1. Print Ad-Full Page, Consumer

  • Individual, full-page advertisement appearing in any consumer publication. Jack D., print ad

2. Print Ad-Full Page, Trade

  • Individual, full-page advertisement, appearing in any trade publication.

3. Print Ad-Campaign, Consumer

  • Three or more full-page ads for the same product/brand with a related theme, appearing in any consumer publication.

4. Print Campaign-Full Page, Trade

  • Three or more full-page ads for the same product/brand with a related theme, appearing in any trade publication.

5. Print Ad-Small Space

  • Individual, fractional ad (less than a full page), appearing in any publication.

6. Print Ad-Small Space, Campaign

  • Three or more fractional ads for the same product/brand with a related theme.

print ad, trade, 1st place 7. Holiday or Special Ad

  • Advertisement with a specific holiday or special promotional theme, appearing in any publication.

8. Special Supplement or Insert

  • An advertising supplement or insert, appearing in any publication.

9. New Product Ad

  • Individual advertisement launching a new product, appearing in any publication.

10. Corporate Image Ad

  • Advertisement aimed at enhancing/highlighting the overall image of a company, appearing in any publication.

BD11A2007Television/Video (Categories #11-13)

Submit television and video entries on VHS (1/2-inch) video cassettes only. Spot and campaign entries must be on separate cassettes. Label each cassette clearly (brand, title, # of spots in campaign). Provide a CD with clearly labeled jpeg images from spot/video for publication.

11. Individual Television Commercial (any length).

12. TV Campaign

  • Series of three commercials for the same product/brand with a related theme.

13. Special Video

  • Film or video used for promotional, educational and other related purposes.

Radio (Categories #14, #15)

Submit radio entries on standard audiocassette. Campaign and spot entries must be on separate
cassettes. Each cassette must be labeled clearly (brand, title, number of spots in campaign).

14. Radio Spot

  • Individual radio commercial, any length.

15. Radio Campaign

  • Series of three commercials for the same product/brand with a related theme.

print ad campaign 2nd placeOutdoor Transit (Categories #16, #17)

Submit outdoor/transit advertisements on CD. Include clearly labeled jpeg of each entry, DO NOT submit actual pieces.

16. Outdoor or Transit Ad

  • A single billboard, poster, bus shelter or other outdoor/transit ad.

17. Outdoor/Transit Campaign

  • A series of three or more outdoor/transit ads for the same product/brand with a related theme, or a group of ads, designed to be displayed together with a related theme.

Product Packaging (Categories #18-23)

All packaging entries must be submitted on CDs. Please clearly label jpeg of each entry (category,
subject). DO NOT submit actual packages, bottles or labels. For Redesign submit clearly labeled “before” and “after” images.

category 8, special s#5129A18. Best All-Around Packaging

  • Do not include new product packaging (see #19), redesigned label (#20) or value-added packaging (see #21-23). All other products are eligible.

19. New Product Packaging

  • Products introduced after January 2002. Line extensions (new flavors, varietals, etc.) may be entered.

20. Redesigned Label/Packaging

  • Entry must include separate, clearly labeled “before” and “after” versions.

21. Co-packs

  • A single package including two separate food/beverage/snack brands.

22. Gift Carton/Gift Tin

23. Gift Sets/Gift Packs

In-Store Displays (Categories #24-33)

Display entries must be submitted on CDs with jpegs of entries clearly labeled. DO NOT submit actual display pieces. For motion display, include a brief written description of motion.

24. Shelf Talker/Wobbler

25. Bottle Necker/Neck Hanger

26. Banner/Streamer

27. Dangler/Mobile

28. Case Card

  • Shown with or without product display.

29. Take One/Sweepstakes Case Card

30. Motion Display

31. Floor Bin or Rack

32. Electronic Signage/Displays

33. Multi-Case Floor Displays

Collateral Materials (Categories #34-44)

Submit all collateral materials on CDs with jpegs of entries clearly labeled. For Sales Brochures (#35), Recipe Books (#36) Drink Menus (#40) and Table Tents (#41), please also submit a sample of the printed piece; mounting is not necessary. 34. Poster

35. Sales Brochure/Sell Sheet

BD11A240336. Recipe Book

Premium Items

An item intended as a value-added premium to consumer, either given away with purchase or offered for purchase by mail.

37. Branded Wearables

38. Promotional Glassware

39. Other Premium Items (from inflatables to humidors)

On-Premise (Categories #40-44)

These categories focus on suppliers efforts in on-premise establishments.

40. Drink Menus

  • Send 35mm slide plus menu.

BD11A280941. Tabletent

  • Free-standing card for on-premise tabletop display. Submit drink menu in above category. Please send clearly labeled jpeg of entry on CD plus piece itself.

42. On-Premise Signage

  • Includes neon, banners, mirrors, etc. Please send CD with jpeg of entry.

43. Backbar Riser or Glorifier

  • Free-standing bottle display piece (submit only jpeg of entry on CD).

BD11A390844. Tap Handles

  • Send only jpeg of entry on CD.

Direct-Mail Promotions

For Direct Mail entries, submit one sample of the actual mailing and a CD with an image representative of the campaign theme.

45. Single Piece/Multi-Piece

  • Any mailing consisting of one or more elements.

Public Relations (Categories #46-48)

Compile a comprehensive overview of the event/campaign including press releases, press clips, photos, a summary of the objective and any other relevant materials. Please also include at least one jpeg image from entry on CD, representative of the campaign theme, for publication. For Press Kit, please submit one sample and a CD with jpeg of entry.

46. PR Single Event

  • Any one-time public relations, community affair or media event.

BD11A430247. PR Campaign

  • Any two or more events, for the same brand, with the same theme and objective.

48. Press Kit

  • Containing new releases, background information,
    photographs, etc., that was issued to the news media.

New Media (Categories #49-51)
Submit materials for these categories as described below.

49. Web Site

  • Include the site’s URL (address) on the entry form and submit jpeg of entries on a CD.

50. Web Banner Advertisement

  • An advertising banner, with or without link designed to appear on another company’s site.Include the site’s URL (address) on the entry form and submit a CD with jpeg of entries.

51. CD-ROM

  • Submit one sample of the actual CD, and any relevant collateral materials.

2005 Awards Entry Form

Computing Profits




For the owners of Mac’s Liquor in Hopkins, MN, the first point-of-sale (POS) computer system they used was decidedly NOT a good fit.

“We had to uninstall it after a year of grief,” said Sue McCarville, who opened the store, with husband Dave and daughter Carrie, in 2002. 0507cmp

Jerry Stupka, owner of Jerry’s Wine Center, Broadview Heights, OH, uses Microsoft’s Retail Management System for both his retail store and in-store wine bar.

The system simply didn’t work. “It was down all the time,” continued McCarville. “If you tried to run two credit cards at one time, it would crash.” And when the store processed its credit card transactions manually, McCarville’s merchant credit provider charged a higher rate. On top of that, doing it by hand introduced frequent errors. “I opened up the credit card log files and saw $300 to $500 in lost revenue — and that’s just what I spotted!” she said.

Not only did the McCarvilles find their attention frequently focused on their recalcitrant computer system, but they looked unprofessional to customers while they struggled with it. “It’s frightening to think how many people didn’t come back because of long waits or because we didn’t look competent at getting our own registers working,” said McCarville. “Customers have actually commented to me, ‘You guys finally got those computers straightened out!'”

And the McCarvilles did.

After a lot of research, they settled on the Retail Management System (RMS), meant for small- to mid-sized retailers, from Microsoft.

The conversion to a new system was time-consuming, because of the old system. All of Mac’s Liquor’s data was in a proprietary format and couldn’t simply be exported. “We printed it all out, scanned it in OCR and tried to bring it into Excel,” explained McCarville. “Eventually, we just had to reenter it, which, with a little over a year’s worth of inventory information, was a huge job.”


But McCarville is so glad she did it. Her only regret is not doing it sooner. Before making the change, she ended up spending $3,000 for hardware upgrades, service calls with the system’s company and fees for independent consultants in an attempt to make the original system work better. “It was hard to admit that the program and everything we had done to fix it were a total loss,” she said, but her advice to other retailers: “Don’t keep trying to make a bad system work. You’ll tell yourself, ‘I’ve got so much into it, I have to stick with it.’ Well, don’t! Bad software has costs you don’t begin to foresee.”

Luckily for retailers these days, there are more systems than ever before to choose from. And developers seem to be paying special attention to “the last frontier” of retail automation, the small- to mid-sized independent retailer.

Microsoft has been quite aggressive in entering this market. Its Microsoft Business Solutions has been selling RMS meant for retail operations with from one to 25 stores. And two months ago, it launched Microsoft Point of Sale, meant for the smallest of the small, single-store operations, often with just one check-out lane, which had previously been using an uncomputerized cash register. “This has very much been an under-served group in the past,” explained Mike Dickstein, director of Microsoft Business Solutions’ Point-of-Sale Solutions. “These retailers had only a couple options: they could try to use a PC-based program that was meant for a much larger operation or they could use a cash register.”

At their most basic, point-of-sale and inventory-management computer systems automate the process of tracking product purchases and product sales. The system tracks what comes in — in the form of the retailer’s purchase of product — and what goes out — in the form of sales. Reports can be generated to show how fast items are selling, physical inventory can be checked against the computerized record to look for shrinkage, and the system can automatically alert the retailer of the need to order more of a product because it is selling out. beverage009

This all, of course, remains important. Todd Wielar, owner of two wine shops, Chapel Hill Wine Company and Hillsborough Wine Company, in North Carolina, uses Vision, a system designed for liquor stores and wine shops, from Innovative Computer Solutions. With a computerized system, he pointed out, “You can check on something easily — such as how much Champagne you sold around New Year’s last year. This year, we ordered the perfect amount, just right. Being able to do that saves you a bunch of money.”

Likewise, when Jerry Stupka, a former telecom executive, opened Jerry’s Wine Center in Broadview Heights, OH in 2002, his main focus, when looking for a computer system was inventory management. “My primary focus was on inventory,” he said. “I figured all the rest would follow from there.”


But just as technology is becoming more sophisticated, so are retailers. Stupka needed a system that could not only track the inventory of a wine shop, it needed to be able to handle the sale of gift baskets and the sale of wines by the glass at Stupka’s in-store wine bar. Stupka chose the RMS from Microsoft, which could handle both situations. When a gift basket’s barcode is scanned, the system is able to subtract from the store’s inventory all the products in the basket, including the basket. And it prints out a receipt for the customer that lists the basket’s contents but without their individual retail prices.

When it came to the wine bar, Stupka didn’t want to have to install a whole separate restaurant system. “While Microsoft’s Retail Management System is a retail system and not a restaurant one, we were able to get creative and it works very nicely,” he said. The system uses a barcode for each of the 15 wines-by-the-glass and is able to decrement the store’s inventory by a single glass. And Stupka was able to set it to generate an interim receipt to use as the wine bar’s check that is presented to customers before they pay.

Perhaps the biggest development in inventory management that retailers are looking for is the ability to handle — or at least communicate with — a retailer’s e-commerce website. “E-commerce is part of my business plan,” said Stupka. “Maybe, by the end of the year, we might have gift baskets online.” When looking for computer systems, therefore, it was important to Stupka that they be able to grow in this direction. “You need to have the right kind of SQL-based database,” he pointed out. “We kind of thought forward and are now already set up for this.”

But computer systems — and retailers — have moved away from merely tracking inventory. “Customer relationship management, CRM,” said Stupka. “Keeping track of customer’s purchases: on the surface, that didn’t seem like that big of a deal. But I didn’t realize how beneficial that could be.”

Indeed, Jim McMillian, spokesperson for Innovative Computer Solutions, said, “Being customer-oriented, that’s where the business is going today. Five years ago, customer management was a primitive concept. Today, it is instrumental.”

Wielar, who uses Innovative’s system in his two stores, has been using its customer-management capabilities — and using them hard — since he opened the first store two years ago. “We put everybody into our system, we just ask them their name, and about 98% agree,” said Wielar. “We also have an email sign-up sheet and about 60% of all our shoppers put their addresses on it.” beverage003

“Keeping track of customer’s purchases: on the surface, that didnÕt seem like that big of a deal. But I didnÕt realize how beneficial that could be”– Jerry Stupka, Jerry’s Wine Center Broadview Heights, OH

One result of having this information is the ability to generate target emails. “I sometimes carry an obscure Spanish wine for $30. It has no rating or anything. I just like it,” explained Wielar. “I bought three cases of it, sent an email to everyone who had bought it before — and it was gone in 30 to 40 minutes.”

Wielar also began doing something he read about in Beverage Dynamics’s computer system article last year. “I generate a list of all customers who haven’t purchased anything from us in the last 90 days,” he said. “I send them an email offering them an extra discount. I definitely see results from doing this. For very little time, you can get instant returns.”


Wielar credits his ability to do such targeted customer marketing — “which makes the customer feel special” — with his stores’ phenomenal success. His sales have consistently grown by 20% per year since he opened three years ago.

At the Greene Grape, a wine shop in the Fort Greene area of Brooklyn, NY, customer purchase histories are also tracked. One of the biggest perks, surprisingly, is the ability to tell people what they bought the last time. “People ask that all the time,” said Jason Richelson, owner. “It’s been a huge thing.”

Stupka of Jerry’s Wine Center has also found that customers like that ability. In his store, they even ask what their friends have bought in order to pick out a good gift. “It’s almost like a wedding registry,” he said.

Stupka has built a list of about 3,000 email addresses, all belonging to customers who live within a five- to eight-mile radius of his store, and he sends them monthly emails. “That has been very helpful,” he said. “It’s worth a lot to us. Customer management has been a bigger benefit than we had planned.”

Mac’s Liquor, meanwhile, uses its system to track its wine club members, awarding them points for purchases and generating automatic discounts when they reach a certain level.

Greene Grape’s Richelson looked for certain abilities, such as integrated, Internet-based credit card processing and the ability to handle debit cards, and also found them in the Microsoft’s RMS.

“Another nice thing about RMS is that people are writing add-ons for it, some specifically for wine shops,” he said. For example, he has included an add-on called Automate 5.5 from a company called Network Automation. He has set that to automatically run specific reports from his store’s RMS system and email them to him every night. Another addition allows him to store customers’ encrypted credit card information on his system. “They can call and simply say, ‘Deliver what I got the last time,'” he explained, “and it’s done.”

Other retailers, such as Wielar, like going with a company that specializes in systems for liquor stores and wine shops, which is one reason he chose Innovative. “This is what they do,” he said. “There is a big difference between wine and liquor software and generic software, some of which do not do things the way we need to do them.”

Whatever a retailer’s priorities or preferences, perhaps the best sign that they have a good system is if they feel the way Richelson does about his. “I sure wouldn’t want any of the other wine shops in my neighborhood to use it,” he said. *



This company’s software and Internet-based system can recover stolen computers. The Computrace software, which works on both PCs and Macs, automatically contacts the Absolute Monitoring Center via the Internet. In the event the computer is reported stolen, the monitoring center can track the computer, if it goes online, via its IP address or telephone number. Absolute will then work with local police to recover the computer. Some computers, including IBM ThinkPads, come with the Computrace software installed, ready for the owner to activate. The software can also be purchased, on a subscription basis, from Absolute. Call 800-220-0733 or visit www.absolute.com.


AccuPOS Retail is Windows-based point-of-sale software written specifically to be integrated with the most widely used accounting packages, including QuickBooks, Peachtree and BusinessWorks. Attitude Positive can supply a complete system, including hardware. Call 877-888-0880 or visit www.attitudepositive.com


Atlantic Systems, Inc. has offered POS computer systems for beverage alcohol retailers since 1980. Spirits 2000 is a Windows-based software package that provides inventory and financial control for one store or a chain. The company provides complete systems including hardware, software, installation, training and support. Integrated credit/debit card processing is done via DSL, cable modem or the Internet. Its Frequent Shopper Program (FSP) can collect information on customer purchases and provide the retailer assistance in rewarding the best customers with incentives. The system can identify a customer at the register using a bar-coded card or by entering the customer’s name or account number. The system also has the ability to create a mail-merge file compatible with MS Word. Prices for the Spirits 2000 system start at $10,000. For more information, call 732-280-6616, extension 27 or visit www.asi-nj.com.


Founded in 1983, CAM Commerce Solutions offers point-of-sale, inventory management, integrated accounting, customer management, credit card processing and e-commerce software and systems for small- to medium-sized retailers, including web retailers. The company can provide hardware, software, installation, training, support and payment-processing services. Call 866-840-4443 or visit www.camcommerce.com for more information.


CAP Automation has been developing retail management software since 1978. Its store-management system, SellWise, is currently being used by more than 100 wine and spirit retailers. The system provides POS, inventory control, customer tracking, order/receive, tag and barcode printing and back office reporting. Newer features include optional video monitoring, for security purposes, touchscreen support, hot keys and report customization. Prices for the software start at $995. Visit the company’s website, www.capautomation.com, for a demo or call 800-826-5009.


The latest version of Cetech’s system, Spirits 4.4, has several new features added to a system designed specifically for New York State wine and beverage alcohol retailers. Spirits 4.4 has been running in stores since 1987. New features include the integrated ability to scan New York State driver’s licenses as proof of age verification and the ability to use wireless or batch-mode mobile devices. Spirits 4.4 can be integrated with existing equipment or Cetech can provide all hardware and accessories. The company also offers web application development. Spirits single-user software prices start at $1,995. For more information, call 716-884-8780 or email ceh141@aol.com.


Having difficulty providing product information about the many hundreds of products you carry in your store to your customers and staff? ChoiceMaster offers a solution that can simplify staff training, build good will with customers and increase sales. With ChoiceMaster running on a touchscreen kiosk in the store, customers can find food pairings, recipes, party planning advice and more. ChoiceMaster can be linked to many POS systems, allowing price and inventory information to be updated automatically, and can be used in multi-store operations. For a demo of how ChoiceMaster works, visit www.ChoiceMaster.com or call 914-763-0891 for more information.


The DataLiquor system, designed specifically for beverage-alcohol operations, is currently being used by over 170 stores. DataLiquor can provide a retailer with a complete system, including hardware. For more information, call 888-354-6227 or visit www.dataliquor.com.


Datasym Inc. has offered total point-of-sale solutions since 1984 and currently has over 500 installations in the retail beverage-alcohol market. For more information call 800-265-9930 or visit www.datasym.com.


The company’s POS-IM system for small- and medium-sized retailers is available in both Windows and Mac versions. A complete Mac system, including POS-IM software, Mac computers, training, support and peripheral hardware — can be leased directly through Apple’s own leasing program. POS-IM Premier for Windows will unveil a major upgrade in the fall. The company offers packages that include the POS-IM software, peripheral hardware, two days of training (at the company’s headquarters near Salt Lake City) and support at prices starting at less than $4,000. Call 800-409-7678 or visit www.ensign.com.


This touchscreen POS system runs on a Windows XP platform. The POS system can be run, along with other software modules, such as inventory, or it can handle multiple terminals connected to a back-office computer. The POS system can handle customer-loyalty cards and can be used to verify the age of customers by reading the magnetic stripe on their driver’s licenses. The system features credit card processing and EDI ordering capabilities and can be used with wireless devices. Call 1-256-327-5021 or visit www.ezminer.com.


IBM provides a range of technology solutions for the retail store, including the most comprehensive family of retail-hardened, point-of-sale systems with a variety of advanced capabilities at a range of price points. IBM’s POS line includes the affordably priced IBM SurePOS 300, which offers the retail hardening and reliability for which IBM POS systems are known at a competitive price point, while the SurePOS 600 is designed for specialty retailers. IBM also offers a retail kiosk and self-checkout systems. More than 1,000 IBM Business Partners provide specialized software applications for retailers of all types and sizes. IBM provides hardware, software and services for many of the world’s leading retailers. For more information on IBM Retail Solutions, visit www.ibm.com/industries/retail/store.


This company’s award-winning Store Manager touchscreen POS software can be used by single-unit or multi-store beverage retailers. The Store Manager system modules include real-time inventory, purchase orders, customer management, including accounts receivable, and employee management, including time and attendance. Standard features include case and quantity-based pricing, age verification, multiple units of measure, integrated credit/debit and label/shelf tag printing. Store Manager POS can generate over 100 different reports and also interfaces to popular accounting packages. It can be used with handheld inventory devices. System pricing starts at $1,600. Call 800-678-8682 or visit www.infotouch.com.


ICS has developed programs specifically for beverage alcohol retailers for over 25 years and has systems installed throughout the U.S. The company’s VISION system is a scalable solution for stores ranging from a single register to multiple locations. The POS module within VISION is designed to provide full register capability, including price look-ups, discounts, customer-special pricing, periodic sales and frequent-buyer or award points tracking. The back-office module provides inventory control, sales analysis, purchase history, FIFO inventory level tracking, and physical inventory. The cashier accountability features allow a retailer to track all transactions down to the keystroke. VISION is turnkey and includes hardware, installation and training at the store location. Complete systems start under $8,000, including hardware. Hardware can also be purchased separately. Call 732-223-0909 or visit www.vision.bz.


Kronos is the most trusted name in workforce management. Kronos helps organizations staff, develop, deploy, track and reward their workforce, resulting in reduced costs, increased productivity, better decision-making, improved employee satisfaction and alignment with organizational objectives. More than 20 million people use a Kronos solution every day. Visit www.kronos.com.


Microsoft Business Solutions offers two POS systems for the small- to mid-size retailer. Its newest system, Microsoft Point of Sale, introduced in May, is meant to replace the cash register for small independent retailers. It can track customer sales histories, allows the retailer to monitor the store remotely, such as from home, and can be used with touchscreens. The estimated retail price for a single-lane license is $799. Microsoft’s Retail Management System is for small- to mid-sized retailers. It can be used in conjunction with Microsoft Great Plains to manage a multi-store operation from a central location. Packages of the Retail Management System software and hardware, such as a POS terminal with monitor, keyboard, receipt printer, cash drawer, scanner, and magnetic-stripe reader, are available from technology providers for estimated retail prices starting at $2,999. Both POS systems can work with Microsoft Office applications and popular financial software such as QuickBooks. Call 888-477-7989 or visit www.microsoft.com/BusinessSolutions/POS.


NCR Corporation’s Retail Solutions Division is a leading global provider of store automation solutions, including hardware and software, consulting and customer support services. NCR provides retailers of all types with the technology industry’s most comprehensive suite of solutions, including NCR FastLane self-checkout, NCR RealPrice electronic shelf labels and NCR EasyPoint interactive kiosks. Its POS solutions, including NCR RealPOS terminals and NCR RealScan bar code scanners, are designed to help retailers of all sizes improve customer service and operational efficiency. For more information, call 800-CALL-NCR or go to www.ncr.com.


PerformanceRetail offers a suite of web-based software and services that can provide retailers with business-intelligence, merchandising and store-operations abilities. The second generation of its InSite system is currently being beta-tested by ten convenience-store operations. For more information, visit www.performanceretail.com.


Prophetline is a POS and retail management system for small- to mid-sized specialty retailers, including beverage retailers. Its systems include IP credit card processing, integrated web shopping and fully integrated accounting. Handling operations ranging from one store to multiple sites with centralized purchasing, Prophetline is a four-time winner of the Microsoft Retail Application Developer of the Year Award. Call 800-875-6592 or visit www.prophetline.com.


Retail Anywhere, formerly AIM Systems, has offered PC-based POS software since 1981. In addition to Retail Anywhere POS, the company also offers Retail Anywhere Enterprise for chain operations. Call 800-257-2734 or visit www.retailanywhere.com.


RTC Group has been providing retail software systems since 1989. The company’s StoreMS application suite is designed primarily for operations with multiple stores. The system includes POS, customer loyalty rewards, gift cards and credit/debit/check authorization over a wide area network (WAN). Another enhancement, designed specifically for beverage retailers, provides automated electronic daily sales reports. The StoreMS POS software starts at $1,500 for a two-register store. Customer Loyalty Rewards and Gift Card modules are priced separately. Call 919-383-4588 or visit www.rtc-group.com.


Sage Software, formerly Best Software, specializes in business management software and services for small- and mid-sized businesses, with brands such as ACT!, Peachtree, FAS, Abra, MAS 90, MAS 500, ACCPAC, BatchMasterPFW, and more. For more information, call 866-308-BEST or visit www.bestsoftware.com.


Symbol Technologies, Inc., founded in 1975, is a global leader in secure information systems that integrate handheld computers, wireless networks and barcode-date capture. For more information, visit www.symbol.com.


Founded in 1980, Synchronics specializes in business software for small- to mid-sized entities. Its CounterPoint POS and retail management products are available in several versions, some of which can handle integrated high-speed credit card transactions. For more information, call 800-852-5852 or visit www.synchronics.com.


Unicru offers a system that automates the initial stages of the hiring process. Job applicants fill out their applications on a computer workstation at the store or even online, at the company’s website. After the application is completed, the Unicru system then administers assessment tests to the applicant, testing for things such as dependability, honesty and management potential. The system scores these tests, ranks the applicants and also highlights any areas, such as a gap in employment history, which the interviewer will want to follow up on. Originally developed for large retailers — Unicru is used by several of the largest supermarket chains — the company has recently released its Midmarket Solution, meant for mid-sized independent grocery chains. For more information, call 800-933-6321 or visit www.unicru.com.

For Peat’s Sake

There’s a lot of excitement among
producers of premium and superpremium Scotch.

Robert Plotkin is the past president of the National Bar & Restaurant Association and author of numerous books including the 5th edition of The Bartender’s Companion: The Original Guide to American Cocktails and Drinks. He can be reached at BarMedia, 1-800421-7179, or e-mail him at robert@barmedia.com

0504ps1While dwarfed by the relative size of several other distilled spirits categories, Scotch remains one of the identifiable standard bearers of the urbane consumerism. Its cachet of uncompromised quality, breadth of expression and dynamic range of flavor has made Scotch a global heavyweight.

A look at the numbers reveals some interesting trends. According to the Adams Handbook Advance 2005, while the overall Scotch category dipped 0.8% in 2004 to just under 9 million 9-liter cases, for the most part premium and superpremium brands continued to grow. In general, value-priced brands — whether domestic or imported — continued to decline.

“Even though Scotch is not the largest of the whiskey markets, the category still carries more gravitas than other whiskeys,” contends Larry Kass, director of corporate communications for Heaven Hill. “Scotch offers more expressions, superb marketing and packaging and a strong academic/educational bent. Collectively they’re positioned in a sophisticated, upscale way, lending an importance and weight that’s disproportionate to case sales.”dewars

Dewar’s 12, a high-end member of the Dewar’s line of Scotch, from Bacardi USA, had a sales gain of 22.0% in 2004, to 61,000 9-liter cases.

Indeed, the leading brands of single malt Scotch had sales gains of a collective 4.8%, while the four leading blends, including premium and superpremium brands, all showed sales increases. Dewar’s hit 1.4 million 9-liter cases, and has been promoting its base brand along with the successful superpremium Dewar’s 12. The brand also features another high-end expression, Dewar’s Signature, which debuted last year. The Johnnie Walker family is showing renewed strength: while Black has been one of the top-selling superpremium spirits for several years now (up an impressive 5.9% in 2004), Red gained another 3.0% last year on top of a comeback year in 2003. And the Chivas Regal ship has righted itself, with the world-renowned superpremium gaining 3.0% in 2004.

Consensus is that Scotch enthusiasts are different than your average spirits drinker. They’re more prone to try new releases and sample unconventional bottlings. They are driven by the sense of discovery and the need to experience something new and exciting. It’s all like an urban adventure. Distillers appreciate these compelling desires because it’s the same forces that drive them.

Chivas 750 VAP Among the royalty of blended Scotch, the superpremium Chivas Regal, from Pernod Ricard USA, upped sales to 487,000 9-liter cases last year.

“Our experience has shown us that what impels consumers to purchase a blended or single malt Scotch is taste, recommendation and self-discovery,” observed Jack Shea of Allied Domecq. “As a consumer’s palate becomes more discerning, he or she may be willing to move on — and up in price if necessary –t o experience a more complex malt, maybe something more adventurous. More often than not, they purchase based on a recommendation or through their own discovery and research.”

Diageo’s Richard Nichols, vp, marketing, for Scotch, agreed. “Discovery is absolutely what drives consumers to single malt Scotches — the provenance of Scotland, the history of the distilleries and the variety of flavors you can experience by region, age, finish, etc.”

Mary Therese Kraft of Jim Beam believes that successful retailers will continue focusing their efforts on educating consumers. “Hand-selling and personal recommendations are imperative when it comes to selling Scotch. The retail trade is the single most important entity in the education of consumers. They are perceived as experts and the more knowledge the retailer and their employees can impart to the consumer, the more they will enjoy and experiment within the category.”

Johnnie Walker GreenJohnnie Walker Green Label is Diageo’s latest release in the renowned Johnnie Walker family of Scotch.

As a retailer, you’re bound to please every palate and satisfy every request carrying a hundred labels of Scotch. Most take a more reserved approach, however, opting instead to offer their clientele a more discriminating selection of blends and single malts. If this strategy more closely aligns with your objectives, take heed. Stocking a limited selection requires considerably more thought to ensure that you market a balanced offering, one that best represents the varieties of styles of each Scotch-producing region.

This past year or so has featured the release of new and tremendously exciting malts, each nudging the envelope and expanding the horizon. So discard the notion of “best” as outdated and overtly subjective. Instead, line your shelves with genuinely intriguing whiskies.


Located in the northern part of Scotland, the Highlands is the largest Scotch-producing region and the home to a majority of the country’s distilleries. The region’s peat-laced waters and cool, moisture-laded air is perfectly suited for making classic malts. The heartland of the region is the Speyside. Its malts are known for their sophistication, elegance and complexity, the most famous of which are The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich.

0504ps5Two of the top families of single malt Scotches are The Glenlivet (left), from Pernod Ricard USA, and Glenmorangie (below), from Brown-Forman Beverages Worldwide. Both brands expanded their offerings with new prestigious expressions last year.

The best-selling single malt Scotch in the U.S., The Glenlivet range recently expanded with the release of The Glenlivet 15-Year-Old French Oak Reserve. The whisky is aged in American ex-bourbon barrels, after which a portion is matured further in new, Limousin oak barrels. While still representative of the Glenlivet style, the French oak finish adds some welcome spice. Also new to the line is The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1964, a rare vintage malt aged in sherry casks and oak barrels. The Glenlivet range also includes category leader The Glenlivet 12-year-old, 18-yearold, 12-year-old French Oak Finish, Archive (21-year-old) and Cellar Collection vintages 1983, 1959 and 1967.

GlenmorangieAnother lord of the Speyside is Glenfiddich, the best-selling single malt Scotch in the world. The Glenfiddich range of single malts took another leap forward with the release of Glenfiddich Solera Reserve, which is aged 15 years by a system modeled after Spanish soleras.

The range of Glenfiddich also includes the 12-year-old; Ancient Reserve 18-year-old; a 30-year old and a 40-Year Old. The Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937 ranks among the most expensive malts in the world. It was drawn from cask #843 that was filled and laid down in the summer of 1937. A mere 61 bottles were made available with a price tag of $14,000, or $551 per ounce.

The Speyside district of the Scottish Highlands is also the home of The Balvenie Distillery. Their flagship is The Balvenie Portwood 21-Year-Old, a whisky double barreled, first in traditional oak and then 30-year-old, oak port pipes. The wine influences every aspect of the whisky.


After 180 years in the business, The Macallan has the deepest whisky reserves in all of Scotland and a colossal range that includes 38 distinctive bottlings of 26 different vintages. Their famed sherry oak single malts are bottled at 12 years, 18 years (vintage 1986), 25 years and 30 years.

Importer Remy Amerique and the distillery recently launched The Macallan Cask Strength Single Malt, a full-bodied malt bottled at a mouth-tingling 116.4 proof. A splash of spring water brings out waves of fruity, smoky flavors.

Another recent addition is The Macallan Fine Oak, whiskeys made from a decidedly lighter blend of malts. The Macallan house style is easily discernable, a result of introducing American oak whiskies to the mix. The Fine Oak Macallans are bottled at 12 years, 15 years and 21 years.

The malts of Aberlour have made it a franchise in the Speyside since 1826. The distiller’s range includes a 10-year-old and 15-year-old, both of which are aged in bourbon and sherry casks. Importer Pernod Ricard has also introduced an 86 proof, 1990 vintage single malt.

The Glendronach distillery is a traditional distillery, one that dries its own malt, uses wooden fermenting tuns and heats its stills with coal fires. Imported by Allied Domecq, The Glendronach is renowned for two distinctly different types of malts–those that are aged in oak barrels and those that are matured sherry casks.

A complex and sophisticated whisky, The Glendronach Single Highland Malt is matured a minimum of 15 years entirely in first fill sherry casks. For those with a thirst for a malt with even more of a pronounced sherry palate, the distillery has released The Glendronach Vintage 1968, a single malt whisky rested for no less than 25 years is sherry wood.

A fixture in the Highlands since 1843, The Glenmorangie Distillery produces nothing but single malt whisky. The distillery markets bottlings of 10 years, 15 years, 18 years and 21 years.

Of equal stature is the distillery’s incomparable stable of wood finished malts.The first of these 12-year-old malts introduced were The Glenmorangie Port Wood Finish, Malmsey Madeira Wood Finish and Oloroso SherryWood Finish. They were followed by Growth Claret Wood Finish, which is finished in Bordeaux first growth chteaux barrels; Cote Dd Nuits Wood Finish, a 1975 vintage malt finished in Côte de Nuits burgundy barrels; Fino Sherry Wood Finish; and the latest entry, Burgundy Wood Finish.

Dalmore Sherry Cask FinishThe award-winning Dalmore Cigar Malt is part of the Dalmore line of single malts imported by Jim Beam Brands.

Imported by Jim Beam Brands, The Dalmore range of single malts includes the 12-year-old and 21-year-old. Grabbing much of the critical acclaim though are Stillman’s Dram, a limited-edition, 30-year-old malt aged entirely in Oloroso sherry casks, and The Dalmore Cigar Malt, an award-winning spirit with more sherry character than can be found in their other single malts. In 2004, the distillery released the ultra-premium Gonzalez 1973 Sherry Cask Finish. The 1,200 available bottles carry a price tag of $250 each.

Imported by Skyy Spirits, The Glenrothes Speyside Single Malt are rare vintage-dated malts embodying the nobility long associated with the Speyside. Almost 90% of the whisky’s constituent elements were aged no less than 15 years in American oak bourbon barrels, the rest having been aged in sherry wood. Currently the vintages available are 1979, 1989, and 1992.

The Glenfarclas Distillery is among the last of the privately owned distilleries. The distillery ages most its highly sought-after whiskies in Oloroso sherry casks. Their line of malt whiskies, imported by Sazerac, also includes the Glenfarclas 17-year, 21-year and 25-year-old single malts. The Glenfarclas 1968 Vintage Malt was matured for over 36 years in sherry wood.

Most singular of the range is the 10-year-old Glenfarclas Cask 105, which the distillery has produced since the 1950s. Bottled at 120 proof, it is the strongest single malt issued by any Scotch distillery.

The Juniper Spirit

The Juniper Spirit

Once the most popular of the white spirits,
the gin category is trying to regain some of its past standing.

photo courtesy of
Allied Domecq Spirits USA

By Howard Riell

The gin category is hoping to follow the same basic formula that has worked so well for vodka — new products and flavors, a younger demographic, higher-end presentation and promoting mixability.

Overall, category growth was slightly down in 2004, according to Adams Beverage Group Research, off 0.3% to just under 11 million 9-liter cases. While this decline is very modest, it stands in stark comparison to the healthy growth rates of the other so-called white spirits categories, including vodka, rum and tequila. While category leader Seagram’s Gin fell 1.6% last year, it still sells more than 2.77 million 9-liter cases, and the brand has had notable success with its line of flavored Seagram’s Gin & Juice. Second best-selling Tanqueray posted sales of 1.44 million 9-liter cases, and the premium import along with its superpremium Tanqueray Ten line extension are poised for growth.

Once again, the most successful gin is Bombay Sapphire, the superpremium brand imported by Bacardi USA, with sales eclipsing the 700,000 9-liter case mark, an 8.5% gain. The brand has never tried to “just be a gin,” according to Sumindi Peiris, group brand director for Bacardi. “We try to be a superpremium clear spirit, and that’s how we’ve always positioned ourselves. It’s an image category — lifestyle and image.” Sapphire Showstopper-7W

The superpremium Bombay Sapphire, from Bacardi USA, had an 8.5% sales gain nationally in 2004.

Bombay’s ad campaign “has evolved,” she pointed out. “It’s become ‘Bombay Sapphire Inspired.’ That’s our tag line.” The goal off-premise is “communicating some of our drink strategies, and there is a strong effort to showcase for consumers the versatility of the brand, and that the brand can be mixed. It doesn’t have to be just Sapphire and tonic. We have great cocktails that can really fit with everyone’s profile.”

Peiris added, “At the end of the day, though our positioning is to be a superpremium clear spirit, we are still located in the gin section. For us, it’s about getting cases on the floor.” A new three-case rack gets quantity out on the sales floor in a surprisingly small footprint.

Allied Domecq’s premium import, Beefeater, also bucked category trends last year, showing a modest sales increase (up 1.6%) to 620,000 9-liter cases.

Michelle Murray, Beefeater brand manager, believes the category is going to benefit from consumer demand for classic cocktails like Gin & Tonic and the Gin Martini. “Martinis are still very hot, and started as a transition into vodka. [Consumers seem to be] coming back to gin.”

Murray said Americans are busy sampling new taste profiles, “and there’s a general acceptance and even an expectation of flavor in the marketplace right now. Take a product like Wet by Beefeater, which is flavored with pear. It has been able to defy gin convention and bridge that gap between vodka and gin by offering something that really transcends the category.”

Staying Relevant

“The challenge of gin,” said Murray, “is staying relevant to gin drinkers while also re-engaging them as they move through their different life stages and cocktail desires. Toward that end, we have revitalized Beefeater’s marketing campaign to target a new audience and ensure continued growth for the brand.” BEEFTE~1

“This is gin” is the tag line for Beefeater’s marketing campaign, which tries to portray legendary quality of gin in a variety of clever treatments.

A new campaign called ‘This is Gin’ focuses on Beefeater’s “legendary quality as a full-bodied true gin,” said Murray. And promotional materials invite consumers to “see things for what they really are in a very clever, witty and relevant way.” The brand features off-premise materials like counter mats and shelf talkers with recipe tear pads. There is a summer co-pack program with cranberry juice or tonic. And holiday program will have glassware with updated holiday graphics.

“We’re still awaiting the big turnaround [in the category], which is not quite here yet,” said Paul Campbell, group director for Seagram’s Brands, Pernod Ricard USA. “But we’re still hopeful enough that the business will rebound.”

The “big challenge,” Campbell said, is recruiting new, younger consumers into gin. “We still have more mature consumers who continue to be very loyal to the category. But we don’t have our share of the new, younger consumers who are coming into spirits consumption.” Seagrams.G&J

The pre-mixed, ready-to-drink line of Seagram’s Gin & Juice has seen some success and has unveiled new packaging and flavors.

In April, pre-mixed, ready-to-drink Seagram’s Gin & Juice unveiled a packaging redesign. In celebration of the re-launch, Seagram’s introduced Seagram’s Gin & Juice Red Fury, created from a proprietary blend of tropical fruit flavors enhanced with ginseng.

Value-Priced Mixed

“Gin was down slightly in 2004, and it is a tale of two cities,” said Ed Gualtieri, executive vice president of marketing Barton Brands (a division of Constellation Brands), which markets Fleishmann’s and Barton gins. “The imports, which represent about 22% of the category, were up modestly, while domestic gins, which are 78% of the category, took a hit.”

Still, several value-priced brands managed to increase sales in 2004. For example, both Barton and Fleischmann’s gins, from Barton Brands, grew modestly, to 360,000 and 347,000 9-liter cases respectively. And McCormick Distilling’s McCormick Gin gained 3.3% to 220,000 9-liter cases. Vic Morrison, vice president of marketing for McCormick, sees strength at the lower end of gin’s price spectrum. “We’ve had good growth. We have a niche to fill, and a quality level that we think our loyal customers recognize. It’s a good buy.” The company markets the Cambridge, Congress and Royal Sovereign brands as well as McCormick’s. Q_Gin_Silo

Quintessential Gin, from White Rock Distilleries, has a new package and formulation.

Though Burnett’s White Satin Gin, from Heaven Hill Distilleries, saw a slight decrease in sales, to 370,000 9-liter cases, the company is fairly optimistic.

“There has certainly been a lot of work done and money spent by the category leaders, including the import leaders,” said Larry Kass, Heaven Hill’s director of corporate communications. “They have spent lots and lots of money on consumer advertising, which has really helped to open up some new markets. So has product development.”

“Gin is actually starting to pick up a bit, I think, with the vodka category having exploded to such depths that it has,” added Reid Massie, brand manager for Burnett’s. “All of the major companies want to have a gin in their portfolio.”

Indeed, Massie pointed out, “We’re seeing more cocktails made with gin. Consumers are rediscovering gin, if you will, because it was a predominant spirit years ago. Everybody is still into flavored vodkas, but they want to try the next thing. It’s definitely right there for them.”

Burnett’s is available in 1.75 liter, 1.0 liter, 750 ml, a 750 ml carry pack, 375 ml, and 200 ml sizes. The company will focus on standard point-of-sale for the mainstream market, and “some different types of p-o-s” for the urban market, according to Massie, including metal signs. This summer, the brand is offering an on-pack promotion with Burnett’s gin and vodka.

Leading Brands of Gin

(Thousands of 9-Liter Cases)

Brand Supplier 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 % Chg
Seagram’s Gin Pernod Ricard USA 2,906 2,760 2,791 2,820 2,774 -1.6%
Tanqueray Diageo 1,415 1,420 1,440 1,440 1,440 0.0%
Gordon’s Gin Diageo 1,014 965 930 904 885 -2.1%
Bombay Sapphire Bacardi USA 455 550 605 650 705 8.5%
Beefeater Allied Domecq
Spirits USA
635 600 615 610 620 1.6%
Gilbey’s Gin Jim Beam Brands 657 650 645 605 550 -9.1%
White Satin Gin
Heaven Hill Distilleries 380 375 380 375 370 -1.3%
Barton Gin Barton Brands 352 355 355 356 360 1.1%
Fleischmann’s Gin Barton Brands 379 371 351 345 347 0.6%
McCormick Gin McCormick Distilling 210 207 208 213 220 3.3%
Total Leading Brands 8,403 8,253 8,320 8,318 8,271 -0.6%
Others 2,788 2,796 2,721 2,691 2,701 0.4%
Total Gin 11,191 11,049 11,041 -0.3%

Other Superpremium Entries

In recent years, there have been a host of high-end gins coming into the U.S. market, trying to emulate the success of the boutique, high-end vodka segment: Hendrick’s, Bafferts, Citadelle, Hampton’s, Broker’s, and from Holland, Zuidam and Van Gogh, among several others. And though they’ve all had varying degrees of success, no brand has really broken out. Plymouth Gin Bottle

The Absolut Spirits Co. is using a sampling program to try to raise awareness of its superpremium Plymouth Gin.

Said Paul Coulombe, ceo of White Rock Distilleries, “No one’s had a really high superpremium gin able to captivate that price category. We saw an opportunity to elevate the playing field, so to speak, in the gin category just as in the vodka category, so we created a new, very high-end superpremium gin package called Quintessential Gin.”

In April, White Rock relaunched Quintessential Gin with updated packaging and formulation. The product is now distilled five times and has added the essence of lotus leaves and lavender to the traditional flavor profile of juniper and other botanicals. The tall, tapered bottle features a blue fade and dominant Q. “The new Quintessential Gin was designed to appeal to a more upscale, sophisticated gin drinker,” said Coulombe. It is available in 50 ml, 750 ml ($28 to $29 suggested retail), 1 liter and 1.75 liter sizes.

“There is some indication that people are willing to spend a little bit more money on their gin purchases. We’re gambling on that,” Coulombe said.

The high-end Plymouth Gin, which is imported by Absolut Spirits Co., is another superpremium that is optimistic about potential sales, said Jeffrey Moran, spokesman for Plymouth. “The stalwarts who have been around for a while, us included, have seen people become more and more interested in gin. We have been spending a lot more time focusing not only on bartenders but also sampling in order to raise the awareness of the product.” Millers Gin Plain_2

Skyy Spirits recently acquired distribution rights to the high-end Martin Miller’s Gin.

An important step in building on the current momentum, Moran said, is “breaking down some of the myths, like ‘gin is only a gin-and-tonic.’ In fact, you can take gin into a variety of other areas and really enjoy it in the same way you can other spirits.” In the months ahead, Plymouth will be expanding distribution into some additional markets.

For its part, Skyy Spirits has recently entered the gin sweepstakes, with U.S. distribution rights for Martin Miller’s Gin and Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin. “Gin is a very exciting category with renewed consumer interest,” said Anthony Foglio, Skyy’s chairman. “Martin Miller fits within our portfolio of ultra-premium spirits with potential for growth.”

“Hopefully there is going to be a huge comeback. A lot of these new gins are really elevating the market. We think Miller’s stacks up very well against them,” said Monica Daniels, Skyy’s brand manager for specialty imports.

And for the entire category, marketers hope their efforts will lead to a long-awaited turnaround

Presenting Awards at WSWA

WSWA: Awards & Concerns

As pictured on these pages, the Adams Beverage Group, publishers of Beverage Dynamics, presented plaques to the industry’s top brand marketers for the past year, at the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America’s (WSWA) 62nd Annual Convention in Orlando in April. These were the winners of Adams 2005 Growth Brands Awards in the wine and spirits categories. Winners had been notified earlier in the year and details of the awards presented in our Growth Brands Awards report, published in March. AdamsGrowthBrands'05

While the focus at WSWA was also on brands and brand performance, other concerns were in the air. As the industry’s largest suppliers plunged into another round of consolidation, one of the biggest unanswered questions for many in the business was not about who’s going to get what and for how much but who’s going to handle the distribution.

That question was on many minds. The top distillers and their marketing agents haven’t been shy about using their growing power to line up wholesale support, pitting their leverage against even the largest wholesalers. This is hardly likely to change. In fact, in opening session remarks Bacardi USA president and ceo Eduardo Sardina commented directly on the marketplace’s high level of expectations for wholesalers.

Sardina began by referencing other bouts of industry combination going back more than a decade, concluding they were part of a broader pattern of business consolidation. Drawing on U.S. demographic and other trend information he opined, “The next 10 years will be good years.” Every component of the industry will have a role to play, he said. While suppliers have to continue bring quality products to the marketplace and support them, he said, distributors will have an equally critical part.

Sardina then gave listening wholesalers a list of “what we expect.” Included on the Bacardi executive’s list were “in-depth market knowledge, strategic planning partnership, superior programming skills, account segmentation, advertising, merchandising, superior on-premise capabilities, event management, [and] category management.”

Whatever his audience was thinking, he got a nice round of applause.

cg_f_wswa_6579With Pernod Ricard USA awards are Sheila Goodman, Adams; Pernod Ricard execs Ted Roman, senior vp, sales, and Michel Bord, chairman and ceo, and Charles Forman, Adams.

0507ws3With their awards are Patron Spirits company executive team of John McConnell, John Palatella, Ed Brown, and Matt Carroll, along with Adams’ Sheila Goodman.

0507ws4Flanking Barton Brands vp marketing services Jack Kavanagh are Adams’ Charles Forman and Sheila Goodman.

0507ws5Sheila Goodman, Adams, on left beside Bruce Hunter, managing director; Nick James, vp, senior brand manager, and Nick Potter, brand manager, Shaw-Ross International Importers.

0507ws2Diageo plaques were presented at company HQ in Norwalk, CT. Pictured are Charles Forman, Adams, and Martin Tubridy, Tubridy and Associates, on ends, with Diageo brand managers Olesya Alferenko (Smirnoff), Yvonne Briese (Jose Cuervo), and Louise McKerrow (Bailey’s), between.

Retailer Of The Year

In the state of Colorado, an off-premise beverage alcohol retailer can only own and operate one store. But what a store it can be. Applejack Wine & Spirits, in Wheat Ridge, CO, is the largest volume single beverage alcohol store in the U.S. The store itself, about 100,000 square feet in size, including its warehouse space, fills an entire building in a shopping center. “People think the space must have once been a supermarket, but, no, we built it as the liquor store,” explained Alan Freis, chairman. And Applejack has expanded three times, taking over the space of two other stores, since it first moved into the building in 1974.

0502aj2 The top Applejack executives: Jim Shpall (left), president and ceo, and Alan Freis, chairman.

Applejack carries over 16,000 SKUs. “If you can’t find it at Applejack, you don’t need it,” said Jim Shpall, president and ceo. In its advertising, Applejack bills itself as “America’s Largest and Finest Wine & Spirits Supermarket,” with the word “Finest” looking as if it has been penciled in. That’s because Applejack is a superstore but also more than a superstore. The same operation that offers low prices also prides itself on its extensive selection — it carries one of the largest collections of single malts in the U.S., Shpall said. The store that people go to in order to stock up for a party is also the store that wine collectors visit for wines they can’t find anywhere else. On Applejack’s “About Us” page of its website (www.applejack.com), the store’s philosophy is described this way: “One of the best aspects of working at Applejack is helping our customers with their special needs . . . There’s nothing we like more than playing the sleuth and tracking down that obscure vintage; or pulling together a one-of-a-kind gift package for that once-in-a-lifetime occasion.” So, who is the Applejack customer? “My customer is anyone aged 21 to 99,” declared Shpall. “We have something for everyone.” Applejack is one of the largest buyers of French wines in the country. “We probably have more of the recent great Bordeaux vintages than anyone in the U.S.,” said Shpall. However, the store is also the largest single seller of Coors. WINECENTERApplejack is considered a destination store where customers can find just about anything to satisfy their beverage alcohol needs. This egalitarian attitude infuses Applejack. Though the store has its share of high-end wine collectors, doing a brisk business in, for example, Bordeaux futures, Applejack does not favor them over its more ordinary customers. “My good customer who buys three bottles of wine every week is just as important as the one who spends $15,000 at a crack,” said Shpall. “All our customers are important.” When Applejack obtains a sought-after wine, therefore, it sells it on a “first come, first serve” basis.


Applejack is, on the one hand, a destination store. Shpall has one regular customer who travels to the store from St. Louis every few months. “People pass by many liquor stores on their way to us,” said Freis. “They’re coming for our selection, our pricing and our help.” On the other hand, the store is also ideally situated. Located in a shopping center in Wheat Ridge, Applejack is right off Interstate 70, the main route to Colorado’s mountains. “We are one of the last exits out of Denver, about 45 minutes from the closest ski resort,” explained Freis.



Applejack wine managers Shawn Lightfoot (left) and David Anderson in the wine cellar (above), and a view of the extensive warehouse (right).

That the store is in such a prime location is lucky happenstance. When the store was opened by its original owner, Herb Becker, in 1961, I-70 wasn’t even there. Becker built his new shopping center and its liquor store in an area of apple orchards, hence the names: Applewood Village Shopping Center and Applejack Wine & Spirits. Applejack is not the typical box-like superstore. “We don’t look like Costco,” said Shpall. The store, which went through a major remodeling five years ago, does not have high ceilings, and as a result of its many expansions, is actually full of nooks and crannies. Yet, it is not claustrophobic. Its main aisles, which Shpall refers to as its “avenue aisles,” are wide enough for three to four shopping carts to fit abreast. The store’s shelving is kept low, four-to-five feet high. “That’s so you can always see and what you see is most of the selling space,” said Shpall. The goal of the remodeling, which took five months to complete, though the store remained open through it all, was “to make the store bright, clean, the opposite of the stereotypical liquor store,” said Shpall. “We wanted to make it a consumer-friendly store, appealing to all demographics.” The inside of the store was entirely gutted, one section at a time. Even the direction of the aisles was changed, from east/west to north/south. “Everything from the floor to above the ceiling, including the telephone and computer wiring, was updated,” said Shpall. “We put in all-new lighting, all-new shelving.” Applejack also added four new registers, bringing it up to a total of 14 checkout lanes.


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