By: Olly Wehring
The just-drinks leader, written by the just-drinks leader.
My time in Chile, courtesy of Concha y Toro, is fast drawing to an end. Having reported on both the country's wine industry broadly, and the company specifically for the better part of ten years, this visit has put quite a bit of meat on the bones of my knowledge of all things Chilean. Such as:
Earlier today, I enjoyed a healthy debate on Twitter with one of my peers here in the UK. The journalist, writing in UK on-trade publication Inapub, was having a dig at 'Dry January', the concept of not drinking alcohol for all of the first month of 2015.
The announcement late yesterday that Cuba and the US have started on the road to normalised relations will be of particular interest to two spirits companies – one evicted from its home by the revolution, the other a co-owner of a rum because of the revolution.
Last weekend, the Wall Street Journal published a fascinating article that looks at the more recent performance – or lack thereof – of Anheuser-Busch InBev's Budweiser brand in the US.
I must be getting soft in my old age, but there are two drinks marketing campaigns that have recently launched, which have resonated particularly well with me. The one thing they have in common is that they both barely feature the product they are promoting – if at all.
SABMiller may have been trying to sneak news of its Brazilian tie-up with Petropolis under the radar, but the news comes on the back of pronouncements by the brewer that it is keen to up its presence in the country. It also comes at a time that SABMiller finds itself in a position where it needs to make an acquisition. And fast.
Pernod Ricard's decision this week to withdraw its support for the geographical indication (GI) 'Plymouth Gin' makes sense to me, but that such a GI exists at all serves only to underline the confusion that still abounds in the gin category.
Diageo's move to take back full control of Don Julio certainly indicates the potential for Tequila. However, it is the company's divestment of Bushmills that speaks even louder, to the future for Irish whiskey.
Back in April, when the Scotch Whisky Association released 2013's export sales figures for the category, many observers expressed disappointment, but not necessarily surprise, at the numbers.
I'm not entirely sure why so many trade press column inches were given over to the latest 'news' from Diageo's new single grain Scotch whisky brand, Haig Club, yesterday. I mean, the launch of the product was initially announced six months ago.
From some of the noises coming out of London yesterday, I am willing to suggest the following: SABMiller is rather annoyed with Heineken. That's probably because, Heineken broke an unwritten rule among the larger companies by going public on its talks with SABMiller.
The book has been closed – for now – on the end of the plc line for Treasury Wine Estates, following yesterday's announcement that it has called time on negotiations with two separate parties on a possible takeover.
Yesterday afternoon, here in London, the UK's Wine and Spirit Trade Association hosted its annual conference. Headlining the show was Sir John Hegarty, co-founder of the Bartle Bogle Hegarty advertising agency and best known for creating the Levi 501 ads and the 'Vorsprung Durch Technik' tagline for Audi.
Heineken's announcement earlier today of an approach by SABMiller confirms what some observers have warned in recent months: The 'Mega-Merger' is most definitely on.
Today's official opening of the new Guinness production facility at the brand's St James's Gate site in the centre of Dublin stands in marked contrast to how the plot's future looked less than ten years ago. It is refreshing to see – for whatever reason - a plc the size of Diageo bowing to a brand's provenance, even if such nods are a rarity these days.
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