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Sourpuss’s new competitor

Eastern Canada may lose scotch Popular single-malt scotch could soon be unavailable in Eastern Canada as a result of booming demand for premium spirits in Russia and China. Liquor corporations are warning they could run out of such iconic scotch brands as Talisker, Oban, Lagavulin Distiller’s edition and Dalwhinnie, with little new product expected to come in. New Brunswick is facing shortages of many of the same whiskies, as well as the labels Brora and Clynelish. Prince Edward Island has enough Talisker and Oban to last until spring, provided it isn’t bombarded with requests from the rest of Eastern Canada. Liquor corporation officials in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick believe they are suffering from Diageo’s desire to divert stock to more lucrative markets overseas. Diageo spokesman Bob Paling acknowledged “there will be some markets that suffer” since these products are manufactured in limited quantities, making it hard to meet the demand. He told the Globe and Mail that China’s and Russia’s robust economy has prompted new thinking in the premium spirits category but denied there is a direct link between scotch shortages in the Atlantic provinces and these booming markets. Paling suggests what the Eastern Canadian markets are seeing is the normal ebb and flow of the business.


million Of the $2 million spent on alcohol in Alberta, $1.6 million is purchased at retail outlets

A growing category Built on the long-standing success of the brand in the U.K., Gaymers Original Cider has come to Canada. After performing No. 1 in taste tests against competitors such as Strongbow, Vincor Canada has released Gaymers Original Cider in Ontario’s LCBO. It’s also available in British Columbia and Alberta and will be released nationwide next year. Vincor Canada says it felt it was the right time to launch this product given the positive cider trends in the Canadian marketplace. National cider volume is growing at 12.4 per cent year over year. In Ontario, total cider is growing at 28.8 per cent, while in Western Canada total cider growth is 10 per cent year over year. So far the reaction from licensees has been positive as consumers demand a Strongbow alternative. Gaymers is marketed to beer drinkers who like to experiment, consumers who are interested in a more natural product, men’s and women’s league soccer teams and pub-goers.


Diamond Estates has just released two products: Mickey Finn Raspberry and Mickey Finn Blueberry and Pomegranate liquors. Made with 100 per cent natural fruit juices and infused with neutral spirit, they are premium quality products. According to Diamond Estates, raspberry is one of the most popular new flavours in the market, while Blueberry and Pomegranate are an excellent source of antioxidants for the health-conscious. Launched in Ontario in June, they will be rolled out across Canada through 2009. According to Diamond Estates, they compete directly with Sour Puss and Sourz products Mickey Finn can be used as a shooter, neat over ice or mixed to create a cocktail. A 750 ml bottle of Mickey Finn Raspberry or Mickey Finn Blueberry and Pomegranate retails for $21.95 but can be purchased by licensees for $18.72 in Ontario.

Diageo drops lower-end scotch Even though Eastern Canada is finding it hard to get enough premium single malt scotches, Quebec is dropping low end scotch. Johnnie Walker Red, Blue, Gold and Black Labels could go up in price by 15 to 20 per cent. “People who know their scotch know that there is a limited supply of single malt,” Bob Paling, Diageo’s vice-president of corporate relations told the Montreal Gazette. “Good scotch has been on allocation for years. The world price for scotch is going up around the world, not just in Canada.” The SAQ is negotiating with Diageo to keep other popular brands in stock, but says price hikes seem inevitable. “It is hard,” SAQ representative Linda Bouchard told the Montreal Gazette. “The bottom line is the consumer. We want consumers to get value for their money. We don’t want to have to sell inferior scotch for more than what it is really worth.”




Martin Miller’s gin comes to B.C. Martin Miller’s London Dry Gin is distilled in England’s Black Country. Awarded 94 points from the Chicago Beverage Testing Institute, and Double Gold from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Martin Miller’s Gin is now available in British Columbia courtesy of Whitefish Beverage Agency as a specialty listing. The spirit is infused from over eight botanicals including juniper, orange peel, coriander, licorice, cinnamon, nutmeg and angelica. Martin Miller’s London Dry Gin retails for $39.99/750ml and can be found at select private and government liquor stores, as well as at fine-dining restaurants. Martin Miller’s is also available in Alberta, Manitoba and soon will be on the shelves in Ontario.

Commemorative wine Inniskillin Wines, an official wine supplier for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter games, has announced the launch of the exclusive Inniskillin Vidal Icewine Commemorative edition. “The association with the Olympics aligns our great pride in our athletes,” Inniskillin Wines spokesperson Debi Pratt said. “Through this commemorative icewine Canadians have a special opportunity to support the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and the Canadian Olympic Team.” Part of the proceeds from each bottle sold will support the Canadian Olympic team as well as the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. Each commemorative bottle features the artwork of Canadian artist Gordon Halloran, who is recognized within the Olympics for his “Paintings Below Zero” installation at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy. Halloran is known for creating images using ice. Termed “extreme winemaking,” Inniskillin Icewine is harvested from naturally frozen grapes at the peak of Canadian winter. “The finished wine is intense and luscious, balanced with brilliant acidity, creating a unique sensation on the palate,” says winemaker Bruce Nicholson. He adds the wine is distinguished by fruit flavours such as mango and peach nectar. Inniskillin Vidal Icewine Commemorative Edition is now available in B.C. at the BCLDB (375 ml/ $59.95), Ontario at Duty Free stores (375 ml/ $59.95) and the Inniskillin Wines Boutique in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The wine will be released in LCBO Vintages in February 2009 (375 ml/ $59.95) and in the SAQ (375 ml/ $59.95) in spring 2009.


Molson Coors takes stake in Foster’s

12.4% National cider volume is growing at 12.4 per cent year over year

Molson Coors Brewing Co. has emerged as holder of a five-percent stake in Australian brewer Foster’s Group Ltd. Australia’s largest brewer will decide next year what to do with its troubled wine unit. If its beer operations become a stand-alone business, analysts told Reuters they could be worth at least $7 billion to another brewer. According to reports, Foster’s has already appointed advisers on a defence as investors speculate that global brewers will be interested in its high-margin beer operation in Australia, where it has about half the market with domestic brands such as Victoria Bitter. The global beer market is consolidating, with a closing date approaching for InBev NV’s $52 billion takeover of AnheuserBusch Cos. Inc., a debt-financed deal to create the world’s largest brewer. A takeover of Foster’s beer assets by Molson Coors, the maker of Coors Light and Molson Canadian Beer, is considered less likely because Foster’s beer assets are valued at about $7.7 billion, which is comparable to Molson’s entire market value. However, a joint bid involving Molson Coors and Coca-Cola Amatil is more promising, according to Reuters.

Actor releases vodka Canadian actor Dan Aykroyd and American landscape artist and sculptor John Alexander have combined forces in a tribute to the 13 Crystal Skulls found around the world to launch Crystal Head Vodka. “Unlike most vodkas in today’s marketplace that use additives, glycol, citrus and sugar to improve smoothness and flavour, Crystal Head Vodka is a pure spirit with no additives,” said Aykroyd. “It is quadrupled distilled and filtered three times through charcoal followed by triple filtration over Herkimer crystals from one of the planet’s rarest deposits of close concentrated semi-precious stones.”

According to the press release, the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation distills the vodka, which uses water from the province’s deep glacial pools located over a thousand miles from major sources of pollution. Crystal Head Vodka is currently available in Newfoundland and will soon come to Alberta and New Brunswick. Marketing efforts are in the works to bring the product to the US. Aykroyd commissioned Alexander with the task of creating an anatomically correct human skull to act as the archetypal container for the drink. Milano’s Bruni Glass Company is responsible for manufacturing Alexander’s design.


million The Government of Ontario announces an $8-million commitment to small brewers


Liquor news - and why eastern canda may end up scotchless  

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