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Walgreens Offers Private-Label Beer

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 31, 2011 04:30 PM

While drugstores are the place to go to get your cough drops and allergy tablets, they are also places to pick up another kind of medicine — the self-medicating kind found in alcoholic beverages. 

We recently wrote about Duane Reade luring Brooklyn hipsters by offering high-end bottled beer and fresh beer on tap to go in Williamsburg. Now Walgreens is going in a completely different direction: offering its own private-label beer at the low end of the price scale.

Quietly introduced in mid-December, Walgreens now offers Big Flats 1901 lager in more than 4,600 of the chain’s 7,655 locations, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“In just the first few weeks of sales consumer feedback has been very positive, as beer drinkers across the U.S. are thrilled to have such a quality brew at a value price,” Kathleen Burns, senior marketing manager at Novato, Calif.-based Winery Exchange (which produces private-label alcohol brands for retailers including Costco and Trader Joe's) said in a statement.

While we have to wonder at the name — “flat” isn’t a word that you want to associate with beer, although the name is meant to evoke flat boats that delivered goods to settlers in upstate New York — it’s obvious that the beer’s price is the real point here.Continue reading...

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Knob Creek Rolls out the (Single) Barrel

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 28, 2011 02:00 PM

In a development that should have bourbon aficionados raising their glasses, Knob Creek is bringing to market its long-awaited Single Barrel Reserve, the first new release from the brand since it was introduced by Jim Beam in 1992.

The new bourbon should be on shelves by next month. Ever responsive to consumers, which the brand lets customize its bottle labels, this week an update was posted on its Facebook page to whet fans' appetite:

The master distillers at Knob Creek taste test each batch and then individually select the privileged few to become Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve. Bringing you this quality and taste requires a significant amount of additional time, but at Knob Creek, we don’t shy away from something that’s Worth the Effort. Only a few short weeks until you can find it on the shelves! Who's excited?

Talk about a rhetorical question.

Judging by the comments, they all are!Continue reading...

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Moonshine Makes It from Backwoods to Cocktail Bar

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 26, 2011 04:30 PM

Moonshine in L.A.? Sounds like an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, but according to the Los Angeles Times, modern moonshine is making inroads into the chic bars of the beautiful people. The clear whiskey is showing up as the latest ingredient du jour for the city's most innovative bartenders.

But this isn't your great-grandpa's moonshine, so called because of its illegal nature. Today's moonshine — also called white dog — is whiskey that has not yet been aged in barrels, creating its distinct color and flavor. Moonshine showcases the raw materials of the whiskey rather than the wood it's aged in.

Original Moonshine, made by Stillhouse distillery in Culpepper, Va., uses the recipe that the distiller's grandfather used to make the illegal stuff in the '30s, with similar equipment.

It may be the most ubiquitous brand of moonshine on the market, but it certainly isn't the only one.Continue reading...

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Hennessy Proves that Money Can’t Buy Good Taste

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 26, 2011 02:00 PM

Since 2007, the beginning of each new year has brought a new X.O limited edition cognac from Hennessy, featuring a unique blend and a designer bottle. This year’s release, called Odyssey X.O, may just be one of the most overdesigned bottles of booze we’ve seen in some time.

Hennessy’s designs aren’t exactly minimalist to begin with, and the higher end they go, the more ornate they get. The X.O bottle is a heavy, curvaceous cornucopia covered with grapevines.

For the Odyssey X.O, multi-disciplinary artist Arik Levy (best known for his furniture design) has stuck the X.O bottle – in shades of silver, rose and gold – on top of what appears to be a piece of silver kryptonite. You can see what we mean at right.

Levy has referred to this year's X.O. limited edition design as an “uncontrolled muscle.” We think someone perhaps should have tried to control his muscles before he got his hands on the Hennessy bottle.

Hennessy also launched Hennessy V.S.O.P Helios at Dubai Duty Free in December. It’s the first of the “Privilège Collection by Hennessy,” which will release an exclusive new bottle each year. 

The V.S.O.P Helios bottle has been varnished in a layer of silver, colored to resemble pink gold, and in case you didn’t catch the reference to the sun, the box in which the bottle is packaged features rays that look like they are coming out of the bottle.

While this pink, blinged-out special edition isn’t as hideous as the Odyssey X.O., subtlety is certainly not one of its charms.

Regardless of the bottle designs, since these are Hennessy and they are limited editions, expect them to get snapped up. At least that will get them out of public view.

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Shackleton's Dram: Whyte & Mackay Retrieves 115-Year-Old Whisky

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 25, 2011 04:00 PM

After sitting on ice in Antarctica since 1907, three 115-year-old bottles of Scotch whisky recently arrived back in their homeland. The bottles, which were found under the hut of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, were sent back to Scotland's Whyte & Mackay, the owner of the Mackinlay distillery that originally made the whisky, which is no longer produced. 

Whyte and Mackay will analyze the whisky, and if the ingredients can be identified and confirmed, it could result in a replication of the old blend. "Given the original recipe no longer exists, this may open a door into history,” Richard Paterson, master blender at Whyte and Mackay, told the Associated Press.

We can see the tagline now: "Mackinlay Whisky: Worth the Wait."Continue reading...

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Scarlett Johansson Steams Up New Moët & Chandon Ads

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 24, 2011 11:00 AM

Actress Scarlett Johansson has been tabloid fodder since her husband, actor Ryan Reynolds, filed for divorce last month and has been spotted on the arm of Sandra Bullock. A new photo shoot for Moët & Chandon Champagne may divert the public’s mind away from Johansson’s relationship woes and back onto her luscious lips. 

The campaign capitalizes on Johansson’s classic bombshell style and include a particularly Marilyn-esque shot of her holding a bottle of Moët. Another shows her in an elaborate blue strapless gown, poised on a ladder with one leg exposed amid pyramids of champagne flutes.Continue reading...

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Booze Newz: Mixing It Up

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 21, 2011 05:45 PM

Drinking Up (Wine) Down Under

Forget the image of the typical Aussie with a big Foster’s in his hand. These days, he’s more likely to be quaffing a glass of wine. According to national Bureau of Statistic figures, beer now makes up just 44% of the alcohol consumed in Australia, down from 76% in the 1960s. Meanwhile, wine consumption is at record highs. But watch, out, wine. Cider consumption is growing at about 15.7% annually, and is now the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage in Australia.Continue reading...

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Bourbon Goes Urban as U.S. Whiskey Sales Grow

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 20, 2011 02:30 PM

Among whiskey aficionados world over, single-malt Scotch consistently ranks high in cachet. But in the UK itself, drinkers can’t seem to get enough American bourbon, and the American invasion shows no signs of stopping.

Bourbon sales in the UK rose by 25% between 2005 and 2009, and are forecast to increase by another 22% up to 2014, according to International Wine and Spirits Research figures. Meanwhile, Scotch whisky sales have fallen off by 11% in the UK between 2005 and 2009. Criticism in some quarters has focused on Scotch brands’ marketing strategies.

It’s not all bad news for Scotch: Global sales are still three times that of American whiskies and growing.

Looks like some Canadians, too, increasingly prefer their American cousins’ hooch: While overall whiskey sales in British Columbia fell 2% in the year that ended November 2010, American whiskey grew 9%. High-end American whiskey, which sells for more than $30 Canadian per bottle, grew by a whopping 35%.

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