News Spirits

Assorted News from the Spirits Business

We're mostly consumer-focused here at Professor Cocktail, but occasionally we come across news from the booze biz that we think you might be interested in.

  • The U.S. spirits market achieved steady growth in 2012, as vodka solidified its position as the leading category on the strength of its top-selling brands. Total U.S. spirits sales rose by 3% to 204 million cases, according to Impact Databank. Smirnoff vodka was #1, rising by 2.1% to 9.8 million cases. Bacardi rum was #2, approximately 200,000 cases behind.
  • Bulleit Bourbon is set to offer a higher-proof, higher-priced offshoot, Bulleit 10. The new 10-year-old Bulleit expression is 91.2-proof (the core brand is 90-proof) and will retail for around $45 a bottle, approximately $20 higher than the core brand, depending on the market. It’s expected to hit shelves this month.
  • In related news, the famed Stitzel-Weller Distillery (once owned by Pappy Van Winkle, now owned by Diageo) is reopening. No doubt the bourbon will be nothing like the stuff they used to make, but it's still kinda cool.
  • Grand Marnier is planning to introduce three new products over the next year: GM Titanium, a double-distilled, clear, Cognac-based spirit targeted at urban millennial consumers; Louis Alex Bourbon Barrel, a new cuvée, double distilled with essence of orange and aged in Bourbon barrels; and Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach, a new flavor extension.
  • Sazerac Co. is introducing Epic, a new French vodka, to the American market. Sazerac plans to start shipping Epic (roughly $13 a 750-ml.) to around 30 states in February, with national availability expected later in the year. Along with the core offering, Epic has six flavor extensions: Peach, Whipped Cream, Kiwi Strawberry, Cherry, Cake and Coconut. Sazerac said more flavors will be added at later dates.
  • Celebrity mixologists Simon Ford, Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric have launched a new venture, The 86 Co., starting with a portfolio of four mixology-focused spirits. The lineup includes Caña Brava ($34.99), a three-year-old rum aged in a combination of new uncharred American oak and used American whiskey barrels; Fords gin ($37.99), distilled in London and featuring a blend of nine botanicals; Tequila Cabeza ($42.99); and Aylesbury Duck vodka ($30.99).
  • Serrallés USA is launching a new ultra-premium Tequila brand, Casamigos, this month. Casamigos was created by actor George Clooney and nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber, alongside partner Mike Meldman.
  • Beam sells brands to Luxco for $65M. Including Rebel Bourbon, Calvert whiskey, and Dark Eyes vodka.
  • A. Hardy USA is set to introduce a new liqueur—Serata Amaretto Di Piemonte—to the U.S. market. Produced in Ghemme, Italy, the new offering will be available nationwide beginning next month, priced at $22.99 a 750-ml. bottle.'
  • According to GuestMetrics, the fastest growing cocktail flavors in restaurants and bars in 2012 were Mango (+35), Tea (+30), Ginger (+15), Melon (+15), and Cucumber (+10).


Rum Rum Reviews

The best Caribbean rums, island by island

Wine Enthusiast magazine doesn't just write about wine — they recently ran a good piece on the best Caribbean rums, including tasting notes and scores. They also suggest a variety of ways in which these rums can be enjoyed, and some of the best places in the islands to stay and to drink. It's definitely worth a read.

Here are some of the rums they recommend. I haven't tried all of them yet, but they get good marks from most people.


Mount Gay Extra Old — Wine Enthusiast score: 93 points. An interesting rum that a lot of people love, although it's a bit too whiskey-like for my tastes.


1 Barrel Rum

Dominican Republic

Ron Atlantico Private Cask
Brugal 1888 – Wine Enthusiast score: 93 points


Appleton Estate 12 Year Aged Rum – One of my favorite rums. A superior product, filled with rich flavor.

Puerto Rico

Bacardi 8 – Wine Enthusiast score: 91 points

Saint Lucia

Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum – Wine Enthusiast score: 96 points