Categories
Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2017 Antique Collection Whiskeys

Here is the press release, straight from the barrel’s mouth:

FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (Sept. 19, 2017) Whiskey lovers rejoice, Buffalo Trace Distillery is releasing its 2017 Antique Collection. The highly anticipated collection will once again feature five limited-release whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs. Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley notes, “The team had another great year with the Antique Collection.  From distillation, to barrel selection, to bottling, this year’s collection showed very well.  I was particularly excited about the William Larue Weller with its extra richness, and the Eagle Rare 17 seemed more rounded and full of flavor.  None of these disappointed.”

(Note from Professor Cocktail: For addition information on the individual bottles, please visit my post on the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.)

Here’s what fans can expect this year:

George T. Stagg

The powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, George T. Stagg weighs in at 129.2 proof this year.  Past releases of this uncut and unfiltered bourbon have won many top awards, including “5 Stars – Highest Recommendation” by F. Paul Pacult’s The Spirit Journal. This year’s release contains bourbon from barrels filled in the spring of 2002. This batch contained 309 barrels, a few more than last year.  Storage location of these barrels varied across warehouses C, K, M and Q.  This whiskey tastes of expresso, chocolate fudge and tobacco.

William Larue Weller

The Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon is William Larue Weller. Previous editions of this wheater have won many accolades, including a Double Gold Medal at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and “Bourbon of the Year” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2017.  The 2017 offering was distilled in the winter of 2005 and aged in Warehouses D, I, and P.  This bourbon registers in at 128.2 proof.  The bold flavors include toffee, marshmallow and leather.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye

Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. Previous editions of this whiskey have been named “World Whisky of the Year” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible and “World’s Best American Whiskey” by Whisky Magazine.  This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2011; aged on the third, fourth and fifth floors of Warehouses K, L, and Q, and weighs in at 127.2 proof.  The flavor is described as fig, allspice and cinnamon.

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

The previous edition of this bourbon was honored with a Silver Outstanding Medal at the 2017 International Wine and Spirits Competition. The 2017 edition has been aging on the first, second and third floors of Warehouses C, K and P.  This 90 proof bourbon was aged for seventeen years and tastes of oak, tobacco, toffee and vanilla.

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Last year Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old received “4 Stars – Highly Recommended” by F. Paul Pacult’s The Spirit Journal.  This 2017 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of leather, clove and all-spice.  The barrels for this whiskey were filled in the spring of 1998, and then put into a stainless steel tank in 2016 to stop further aging and evaporation.

The Antique Collection was introduced more than a decade ago and has become a cult favorite among whiskey connoisseurs. Since 2000 these whiskeys have garnered numerous awards from such notable publications as Whisky Advocate Magazine, Spirit Journal, and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

The 2017 Antique Collection whiskeys will be available in limited quantities this October.  Suggested retail price is $90 per bottle.  For more information visit http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/brands/antique-collection.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

Categories
Whiskey

Sazerac’s Tennessee Whiskey Distillery Begins Operations

On July 5, 2017, at a yet-to-be-named distillery in Newport, Tennessee, Sazerac launched a new chapter in the history of this storied company. Master Distiller John Lunn and Distiller Allisa Henley filled the distillery’s first barrels with new-make Tennessee Whiskey.

Nobody’s going to be drinking this whiskey for years. (How long has yet to be decided.) And it doesn’t even have a name yet. But given the Sazerac company’s reputation for excellence, we can expect that good things will happen.

sazerac tennessee whiskey distillery

Categories
Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Introduces O.F.C. Range of Very Rare and Collectable Vintage-Dated Bourbons

PRESS RELEASE

This fall, Buffalo Trace Distillery will release three unique vintage-dated bourbons honoring the National Historic Landmark’s original name – the O.F.C. Distillery. During Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr’s tenure, the O.F.C. Distillery was renowned for producing top class whiskey. The first vintages of O.F.C. Bourbon Whiskey coming in November are sure to be collector’s items and will be offered exclusively to non-profit organizations at no charge to raise money for their causes.  Although these rare whiskeys will not be available in stores or bars and restaurants, later vintages will be released to the overall market starting in the Spring of 2017.

All of the O.F.C. collection releases will be vintage dated according to the specific year in which the bourbon was distilled at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Each hand-cut crystal bottle will feature the vintage year on the label.

The first release is comprised of only 200 bottles; 100 bottles from the year 1980, 50 bottles from 1982, and 50 bottles from 1983.  Future releases will unveil whiskeys from the 1990s, including a 1993 vintage and several consecutive vintage years thereafter. Subsequent O.F.C. releases will follow year after year as vintages are produced and reach maturity.

Straight Bourbon whiskey must be aged in oak for at least two years, but these O.F.C. releases matured much longer. Recipe and age will vary by vintage, but many are expected to mature for twenty years or more. Barrels are evaluated regularly and some whiskey will be removed from the barrels as taste reaches the peak of flavor.

The packaging for O.F.C. matches the splendor of the whiskey itself, in lead free crystal bottles with detailed fluting engraved into the mold. Glass artisans cut the shoulder facets using equipment created exclusively for Buffalo Trace Distillery.  Each bottle then is manually polished to achieve maximum glass brilliance before in-laying cut copper lettering to spell out “O.F.C.” on the front.  A paper label is then hand applied below with the vintage prominently noted, along with a label on the back of the bottle noting the milestones for the vintage year of the bottle.  For example, the 1980 label memorializes the U.S. Ice Hockey team’s stunning victory over the Soviet Union, along with pop culture happenings and Ronald Reagan’s presidential election.  The bottle is then given one last polish for the ultimate premium presentation, while a cork stopper with a copper top adorns the top of the bottle to finish out this stunning bottle. 

This bottle is a replica of an O.F.C. decanter dating back to the early 1900s found in the Buffalo Trace Distillery archives.  Equally as impressive as the bottle is the display box in which the bourbon is presented. The dark wooden box prominently bears the O.F.C. name in copper, along with a copper plaque depicting the year the bourbon was distilled. Upon opening the revolving door on the wooden case, the bottle is proudly displayed on a small riser, commanding attention as its prized possession is revealed. A provenance card is inside each display box, containing the same information found on the back label. Finally, each box is then packaged in a tasteful cream colored bag to protect it from any damage before placing it into the shipping boxes. 

Non-profit organizations located in the United States who are interested in obtaining a bottle to use as a fundraiser for their charity should visit http://ofcvintages.com/ to fill out an application.  To be considered, organizations must submit an official U.S. non-profit tax ID number and use the bottle for fundraising purposes only. Applications will be taken online only and recipients of the bottles shall be notified by email by November 1st, 2016, at which time bottles will be shipped free of charge. Charities will have until March 1st, 2017 to auction their bottle and report back to Buffalo Trace Distillery how much money was raised.

      This is the second time Buffalo Trace Distillery has partnered with non-profit organizations to raise money. In 2011, the Distillery gave away 174 bottles of its Millennium Barrel, the last bourbon barrel filled on the last day of the last century. In total more than $150,000 was raised for various charities across the United States, with the top organization raising more than $7,000 for their cause. 

      “These vintages are certainly unique and special whiskeys. We hope this O.F.C. collection can pay tribute to the many years gone by here at the Distillery. Each vintage has a story to tell indeed,” stated Kris Comstock from Buffalo Trace Distillery.  “To offer this first release to charitable organizations for their fundraising efforts makes this even more rewarding. We expect bottles to raise upwards of $10,000 each for worthy causes.”

Collectors interested in a chance to participate in a fundraiser can start checking the website in November http://ofcvintages.com/ for a list of non-profit organizations who will receive bottles for fundraisers.

ofc-bottle-canister

Categories
Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2016 Antique Collection Whiskeys

It’s the best time of the year for whiskey fans, as Buffalo Trace Distillery releases its 2016 Antique Collection. The highly anticipated collection will once again feature five limited-release whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs. Here’s what ardent fans can expect:

George T. Stagg

The powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, George T. Stagg weighs in at a hefty 144.1 proof this year.  Past releases of this uncut and unfiltered bourbon won many top awards, including twice named the number one spirit in the world by F. Paul Pacult’s The Spirit Journal. This year’s release contains bourbon from barrels filled in the spring of 2001. This batch contained 142 barrels, but not as many bottles as expected, due to some very greedy angels!  Storage location of these barrels varied across warehouses M, N, H, L and K.  Finding a bottle this fall will be difficult due to the low yield.  This whiskey tastes of dark chocolate, coffee and vanilla.

William Larue Weller

The Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon is William Larue Weller. Previous editions of this wheater have won many accolades, including the “Bourbon of the Year” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2016 edition. The 2016 offering was distilled in the spring of 2003 and aged on the third and sixth floors of Warehouses D, K, and L.  This bourbon registers in at 135.4 proof – one of the stronger Weller releases.  The bold flavors include plum, figs and vanilla.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye

Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. The 2015 edition was named “Best American Rye Whiskey” at the 2016 World Whiskies Awards.  This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2010; aged on the fourth, fifth and seventh floors of Warehouses I, K, and M, and weighs in at 126.2 proof.  The flavor has been described as toffee and cinnamon.

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

The previous edition of this bourbon was honored with a Silver Outstanding Medal at the 2015 International Wine and Spirits Competition. The 2016 edition has been aging on the first, second and third floors of Warehouses H and K.  This 90 proof bourbon was aged for seventeen years and tastes of leather, vanilla, tobacco and toffee.

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Last year Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old was named the Best Rye Whiskey 11 Years and Older by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible2016 edition.  This 2016 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of smoke, clove and all-spice with a dry finish.  The barrels for this whiskey were filled in April of 1998, making them the first “new” batch in years not drawn from the stainless steel tank as the previous past few editions have been.  From this year onward, this whiskey will be drawn directly from barrels put away for 18 years, versus using any tanked whiskey.

The Antique Collection was introduced more than a decade ago and has become a cult favorite among whiskey connoisseurs. Since 2000 these whiskeys have garnered numerous awards from such notable publications as Whisky Advocate Magazine, Spirit Journal, and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

The 2016 Antique Collection whiskeys will be available in limited quantities starting in late September or early October.  Suggested retail price is $90 each.  For more information visit http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/brands/antique-collection.

buffalo trace antique collection whiskey

Categories
Press Releases

The 86 Company Launches Caña Brava 7-Year-Old Reserva Añeja Rum

Cana Brava Rum 7 Years

December 1, 2015 – New York, NY – The 86 Company is proud to release Caña Brava 7-Year-Old Reserva Añeja Rum, the f irst dark aged spirit in their portfolio. Staying true to the company’s ethos, it has been made by a veteran master distiller with the input from the professional bartending community on how it works in classic and contemporary cocktails.

Caña Brava 7YO begins with a selection of young and fresh rums handpicked by legendary Master Distiller Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ J. Fernandez. The rums are blended to create an age base which is then further aged in used bourbon casks for over seven years before being bottled. Caña Brava 7YO is a true aged expression of its lighter and younger sibling, Caña Brava 3-Year-Old. After creating the Caña Brava 3-Year-Old Carta Blanca Rum, a small amount stayed in casks for further aging. After seven years of total aging this rum is now ready for a one-time release. Caña Brava 7YO’s character emphasizes the fresh cut sugarcane flavors associated with their style while the aging has added depth and richness you would expect from a rum with this age. Its surprisingly dry finish and higher than normal proof (90 proof/45% ABV) give this rum additional body and flavor, making it very suitable for mixing in cocktails such as the El Presidente, Old Cuban and Rum Old Fashioned.

“We wanted to introduce a rum that would work like a rye whiskey in cocktails,” says Dushan Zaric, Co-Founder of The 86 Company.

The rum-making process begins with the sugarcane, which is harvested by hand. The resulting fresh sugarcane molasses is rushed to fermentation and kick-started using Don Pancho’s distinct pineapple yeast. The molasses wash ferments for approximately 24 hours before being distilled in a vintage copper & brass still built in 1922. The result is fresh aguardiente that is then aged in used American whiskey barrels for 2-3 years to become rum. This aged rum is gently filtered through charcoal before blending with fresh aguardiente to make the age base for Caña Brava rums. This blend is then further aged for seven years in used bourbon casks before being cut to 45% ABV (90 proof ) and bottled.

Categories
Press Releases

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye is the 2016 World Whisky of the Year

NORWALK, Conn., November 19, 2015 – Renowned whisky writer Jim Murray today announced Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye as the 2016 World Whisky of the Year, marking the first time a Canadian Whisky has received the honor. The recognition comes at a time when both the Canadian and Rye whisky categories continue to gain popularity amongst whisky aficionados and consumers alike.

“Crown Royal Northern Harvest pops up out of nowhere and changes the game,” said Murray of the whisky, which he awarded a record-tying 97.5 out of 100 points. “It certainly puts the rye into Canadian Rye. To say this is a masterpiece is barely doing it justice.”

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye was first released in the U.S. in early 2015. The variant showcases the distinctly Canadian rye whiskey featured in the traditional Crown Royal Deluxe Blend that consumers have grown to love throughout the last 75-plus years. The latest variant to be introduced by Crown Royal, Northern Harvest Rye (90 proof, 45% ABV) is the brand’s first ever blended, 90% rye whisky and embodies a smooth and spicy flavor profile that can be mixed into traditional rye cocktails or enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

“Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye showcases the rye whisky that has been such an integral component of the Crown Royal Deluxe blend since 1939. This is a testament to the unbelievable blending and distilling that’s been taking place in Gimli for over 75 years,” said Yvonne Briese, Vice President of Crown Royal. “We are thrilled that Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye has been named World Whisky of the Year!”

The recognition comes on the heels of the launch of Crown Royal’s new campaign titled “The One Made for a King.” The creative, which will run across TV, print, out of home, digital and social, was developed to share the 75-year-old brand’s royal origin story and liquid credentials with consumers. To view the TV spots, please visit www.YouTube.com/CrownRoyalBrand

In addition to being named 2016 World Whisky of the Year, Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye received a double gold medal at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye is part of Crown Royal’s vast portfolio of variants for whisky lovers to enjoy, including Crown Royal Regal Apple, the #1 innovation launch across U.S. Spirits over the past 12 month period, according to Nielsen and NABCAand Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel, a double gold recipient and winner of “Best Canadian Whisky” in the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Categories
Press Releases

Van Winkle Bourbon Available Soon

Van Winkle Bourbon

FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (Oct. 14, 2015) – The long anticipated annual release of the Van Winkle bourbons is nearly here, but unfortunately some of the angels were extra greedy over the past two decades, leaving us less bourbon than in previous years.

“When bourbon ages over 15 years, much is lost to the angel’s share.  Many of the 53 gallon oak barrels often yield less than 20 gallons,” said Kris Comstock, bourbon marketing director. “Unfortunately this year we experienced poor yields on the older Van Winkle whiskeys.  Furthermore, we have strict quality standards here at Buffalo Trace and several of the older Van Winkle barrels did not meet those standards. This makes a drastic difference in volume, considering we have very few barrels as it is. The result is less 15 year-old Pappy Van Winkle than usual, and far less 20 year-old and 23 year-old. Frankly, about half as much as last year.”

Known for their smoother and sweeter flavor, Van Winkle bourbons are aged years longer than most others and garner an impeccable reputation among connoisseurs.  Although the bourbons have become increasingly popular worldwide in recent years, very little is sold overseas, so that most of these coveted bottles are available in the United States. 

The Van Winkle collection consists of several whiskeys. Suggested retail prices are as follows:

  • $49.99 – Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10 Year Old 107 proof
  • $59.99 – Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12 Year Old
  • $99.99 – Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye Whiskey 13 Year Old
  • $79.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old
  • $149.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old
  • $249.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year Old

“Although a lot of retailers charge more than our suggested pricing, we are not asking them to do so,” said Julian Van Winkle, president, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. “We have not raised prices and do not intend to do so drastically in the future. We are committed to our quality and our pricing.”

The Van Winkle line of whiskeys has won a multitude of awards through the years, including the 15-year-old being named “Excellent/highly recommended” in the 2014 Ultimate Spirits Challenge; the 20 year-old awarded “Extraordinary/ultimate recommendation” in the 2013 Ultimate Spirits Challenge; a double gold for the 20 year-old in the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition; and the Chairman’s Trophy and “Extraordinary/Ultimate Recommendation” for the 20 year-old in the 2015 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.

The Van Winkle Whiskeys will be available starting in November, but please be mindful that supply is quite limited and bottles shall be hard to find in stores, bars and restaurants. They will be packed three bottles per case.

Categories
Press Releases

Buffalo Trace Releases 13-Year-Old Old Fashioned Sour Mash Bourbon

FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (Sept. 22, 2015) 

Buffalo Trace Distillery has returned to its roots with the latest release in their long-running experimental whiskey program, a bourbon made using an old-fashioned process of souring the mash.  Distilled in May of 2002, this Old Fashioned Sour Mash experiment used Buffalo Trace’s proprietary mash.  The bourbon was cooked and cooled to standard; however, the similarities stop there. The mash was allowed “to sour” before yeast was added to start the fermentation process, a method long abandoned due to its more laborious process.

This sour mash method differs from the more common process used today by nearly all bourbon manufacturers. The routine method calls for cooking and cooling the mash, and then immediately adding yeast and a small amount of previously distilled mash (or “setback”) as it cools to sour the mash.   The traditional old-fashioned sour mash process fell out of favor many years ago, and it was not until a gathering of distillery “old timers” that Buffalo Trace was inspired to revive it.

After the sour mash was distilled, it was entered into barrels at two different entry proofs, 105 and 125. Aged for 13 years on the seventh floor of Warehouse I, the two different entry proofs took on unique characteristics. The 105 entry proof delivers a light body, with notes of vanilla and fruit, and a dry, nice finish, while the 125 entry proof offers a medium flavored body, with spicy flavors mingled with caramel, and a balanced pleasing finish.

These barrels are part of more than 4,000 experimental barrels of whiskey aging in the warehouses of Buffalo Trace Distillery. Each of them has unique characteristics that differentiate them in distinct ways. Some examples of experiments include unique mash bills, types of wood, and different barrel toasts. In order to further increase the scope, flexibility, and range of the experimental program, an entire micro distillery, named The Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. “OFC” Micro Distillery, complete with cookers, fermenting tanks, and a state-of-the-art micro still has been constructed within Buffalo Trace Distillery. Buffalo Trace has increased its commitment to experimentation with the recent addition of its Warehouse X. Although small in size, Warehouse X is designed to explore the extent of environmental influences on the flavor profiles of whiskey.

The Experimental Collection is packaged in 375ml bottles, with two bottles from each entry proof in a case. Both entry proofs were bottled at 90 proof.  Each label includes all the pertinent information unique to that barrel of whiskey. These whiskeys retail for approximately $46.35 each and will be available in late September, 2015. Experimental Collection releases are generally quite small and have limited availability.

Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey experiment

Categories
Press Releases Whiskey

Buffalo Trace Distillery Releases 2015 Antique Collection Whiskeys

FRANKFORT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (Sept. 8, 2015) Whiskey fans rejoice, Buffalo Trace Distillery is releasing its 2015 Antique Collection in late September. The highly anticipated collection will once again feature five limited-release whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs. Here’s what loyal fans can expect:

George T. Stagg

The powerhouse favorite of the Antique Collection, the 2015 George T. Stagg weighs in at 138.2 proof this year.  Past releases of this uncut and unfiltered bourbon won many top awards, including twice named the number one spirit in the world by F. Paul Pacult’s The Spirit Journal. This year’s release contains bourbon from barrels filled in the spring of 2000. This batch contained 128 barrels, a similar size batch as in previous years. Unfortunately these barrels yielded very little whiskey. Some of the barrels were nearly empty, containing only 1 or 2 gallons. Storage location of these barrels varied across a number of warehouses and several floors, but 84% of the original whiskey was lost to evaporation (or some very greedy angels!). Finding a bottle this fall will be harder than ever. This whiskey tastes of expresso, molasses, chocolate, vanilla, and dates.

William Larue Weller

The Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon is William Larue Weller. Previous editions of this wheater have won many accolades, including the Second Finest Whiskey in the World by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2015 edition. The 2015 offering was distilled in the spring of 2003 and aged on the second and sixth floors of Warehouses I, K, and L.  This bourbon registers in at 134.6 proof – one of the stronger Weller releases.  The bold flavors include toffee, nougat, and figs.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye

Thomas H. Handy is the uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. The 2014 edition was named “World’s Best American Whiskey” at the 2015 World Whiskies Awards.  This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2009; aged on the fourth and seventh floors of Warehouses I, K, and M, and weighs in at 126.9 proof.  The flavor has been described as fig, clove, and allspice.

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old

The previous edition of this bourbon was honored with a Gold Medal at the 2014 International Wine and Spirits Competition. The 2015 edition has been aging on the first, second and third floors of Warehouses Q and I.  This bourbon was aged for seventeen years and tastes of oak, tobacco, and dates.

Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old

Last year Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old was named the third finest whiskey in the world by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2015 edition, and American Whiskey of the Year by Whisky Advocate Magazine.  This 2015 straight rye whiskey release has notable flavors of molasses and allspice, with a long, dry finish.  Several years ago, barrels of fully matured Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old were put into a stainless steel tank at Buffalo Trace Distillery to prevent further aging. Since then, whiskey has been drawn each year for bottling.  This is the last edition of Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old from that tank. Next year’s batch will be comprised of whiskey that is currently aging in barrels filled in April 1998 and subsequent releases will contain barrels filled in 1999 and so on.

The Antique Collection was introduced more than a decade ago and has become a cult favorite among whiskey connoisseurs. Since 2000 these whiskeys have garnered numerous awards from such notable publications as Whisky Advocate Magazine, Spirit Journal, andJim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

The 2015 Antique Collection whiskeys will be available in limited quantities starting in late September or early October.  Suggested retail price is $80 each.  For more information visit http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/brands/antique-collection.

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection Bourbon

Categories
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).

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