The beverage business blog from Olly Wehring
If you would like to offer your comments, opinions, suggest topics or just have a good rant, please feel free to email: Olly Wehring.
Alcohol education - That's the way to do it
24 Jan 2011 15:35
Yes, I know it looks like it was knocked together by a fifth-grade class project, and it sounds like there's some sort of fight going on in the background, but hats off to the BBC here in the UK for this attempt to show the drinkers of the country the effects alcohol consumption has on their wallets and waistlines.
There's a lot to be said for keeping it simple.
Cost plus duty? Hear, hear. Or, Yes! Yes! Yes!
19 Jan 2011 09:15
The news yesterday (18 January) that the UK Government is to ban alcohol sales below the sum of cost price plus duty has split the drinks industry, prompted a sea of calls to radio stations and given TV reporters ammunition to hit the streets and ask members of the public what they think of the matter - like they need a reason.
The naysayers claim this will do nothing to alcohol prices as they currently stand in the UK, with binge drinking also widely expected to carry on regardless.
Meanwhile, the majority of our industry - by which I mean drinks producers - has welcomed the move (while the on-trade will see the gap between their alcoholic drinks prices and those in the off-trade stay as wide as ever: BUT, THAT'S NOT THE POINT), with some of these fans of the news meekly suggesting that introducing pricing controls is no substitute for education in the perils of excessive drinking.
Of course, drinks producers will applaud this move; for two simple reasons. Firstly, as I've said, it will change next to nothing when it comes to prices – have you found a litre of vodka for less than GBP10.71 (US$17.11)? Secondly, this looks like at least something is being done about a problem.
Suggesting that a higher minimum price limit would have been a wiser move does not take into account that this could provoke the European courts, who would look seriously at this as a contravention of competition guidelines. Besides, as several senior members of trade organisations in the UK have told me, there's nowhere near enough solid evidence linking cheap alcohol with binge drinking.
The Government's move is a win-win for our industry. Whilst it may be a stop-gap, and a medium-term one at that, I imagine many will nod sagely, breathe a sigh of relief and wink quietly to their colleagues.
Is Diageo looking to sell Guinness? What about now? Now? Now?
12 Jan 2011 15:20
Okay, okay. We all know that January is traditionally a pretty quiet month in the drinks industry. It must be all that counting of money that's keeping you folks out of mischief.
But, must we really resort to dredging up stale old rumours to stoke the fires of speculation? Reports out of South Africa today (12 January) have suggested that Diageo is mulling the sale of Guinness yet again - this time, SABMiller is the grateful recipient of the beer brand.
Time was, not so long ago, that Paul Walsh had to field the 'are you looking to sell off Guinness' question at every half-year results conference.
Last month's announcement by Diageo that it has created a global beer category unit should really head off speculation like this at the pass.
I guess the quiet of January encourages the mind to wander.
The Spin Bin – November 2010
20 Dec 2010 14:49
After October's launch, I'm horribly late in getting last month's contenders together for our spin bin. Could it be, then, that I've scared some companies off? I really hope not - this is, after all, just a bit of fun.
To the starting line!
"What's more charming than Nicolas Feuillatte's One Fo(u)r to treat your guests this Christmas? As if they were coming back from a stroll in the snow with their amazing winter sport coolers, both are fruity and youthfully sparkling!" - Nicolas Feuillatte.
"In an audacious display of commercial bandwaggonism, Jamie Stephenson, brand ambassador for Drambuie Liqueur has created the 'Engaging Dram' to celebrate the announcement of Prince William's engagement to Miss Katherine Middleton." - Drambuie.
"The new packaging is bolder and more refined, and achieves the fine balance of reflecting the contemporary style of Gosset, yet conserving its 426-year heritage." - Champagne Gosset.
"The new design features a unique curved embossment on the neck and back, which not only looks good, but also adds a pleasing to-the-touch feel, whilst a distinctive embossed mark acts as a stamp of quality and authenticity. Additionally, the new shape makes it look proud while enhancing the premium positioning of the bottle." - Heineken.
"Throughout the ad, we are transported around the globe to a number of diverse scenes from New York to Hong Kong on a journey of vitality and energy. Ordinary daytime scenarios around the world are transformed by the coming of a magical liquid darkness which brings on the night; bursting with vital energy and the promise of enriching experiences ... just like Guinness." - Diageo.
Welcome to just-drinks' Christmas card corner
13 Dec 2010 15:44
Remember the days when you'd display your Christmas cards along a 'washing-line' in your living room? Ah, I (barely) remember the 70s.
Oh, you still do it now? Sorry.
But, in this day and age, it's all become a bit too..., digital to show off who your friends are.
So, let us show you our Christmas cards the 21st century way.
First up, thanks go to the folk at Chivas Brothers, who sent us this classy-looking number.
We've also been sent an e-card from the UK team at SABMiller's Grolsch beer brand. Click below to see the ‘Swingtop Philharmonic Orchestra’ do their thing.
We'll put more Christmas cards up as - and if - we get them.
Movember - Rogues Gallery II: 29 November
29 Nov 2010 12:01
As we approach the end of November, so the end for my scratchy upper lip draws nearer. just-drinks has taken part in this year's Movember crusade, to help raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer, and it's not been comfortable.
At the half-way point, we ran a gallery of just-drinks subscribers taking part in Movember, including yours truly.
So, here's how the fruits of our labours look today.
Here's John Campbell, distillery manager at Beam Global Spirits & Wine's Laphroaig distillery on Islay. John has gone for the 'cop from the Village People' look, a style that has been quite popular with the Mo's of London.
Then, from the just-drinks technical team, we have Tom Thorp.
Not a bad attempt at all, considering he's about 14.
Next up, Marcin Miller, MD of Quercus Communications, is clearly annoyed about something.
I, meanwhile, have spent the month rocking the Austrian trucker look.
It only leaves me to ask you, dear readers, to make a generous donation to the Movember cause. For once, I can say that we HAVE done this for our health.
Please, click this link and donate online using your credit card or PayPal account.
British Guild of Beer Writers Awards - We Have a Winner
26 Nov 2010 15:09
Into London yesterday evening, to soak up the atmosphere, beer and Indian cuisine on offer at the British Guild of Beer Writers awards dinner.
The atmosphere at the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street hotel last night can best be described as jovial, with a hint of bullish. The brewing industry, much like the spirits and the wine industries, attracts a certain kind of person: down-to-earth, deep of laugh and ruddy of cheek. But, the ongoing travails of the brewing industry and, more specifically, the pub trade in the UK has drained some of the colour from those cheeks of late. Whereas the battle used to be for share of throat, the fight now is to get the throats in in the first place.
Some of the beers on offer last night, however - I was particularly taken by Blue Moon and Chimay - show clearly that, once the punters are in the net, there is more than enough on the beer menu to get them hooked.
I was particularly thrilled that just-drinks' beer commentator, Larry Nelson, picked up the award last night for 'Best Writing for the Beer and Pub Trade'.
If you've caught Larry's musings on just-drinks this year, you'll see that this award is more-than-justified. If you haven't, then get involved.
Foster's - Brimming with Ashes confidence?
24 Nov 2010 11:03
One of the biggest rivalries in world sport kicks back in this evening. Tonight, at about midnight, we can expect the first ball (please let it not be as ominous a ball as four years ago) of the Ashes cricket series, between England and Australia.
Whilst here in England, cricket fans are trying desperately hard to keep their expectations in check, in Australia, the widely-held belief is that the home team are by far and away the underdogs this time around.
I'm not entirely sure, then, if Foster's Group's brewing unit in the country, Carlton & United Breweries, is preying on this fear or playing the bullish Australian.
The beer firm is offering a free beer for every adult in the country if the Australian cricket team wins the best-of-five-match series. Vouchers will run in Australian newspapers should the home team prove victorious.
England has not won a series in Australia for 24 years.
Must we throw this filth at our kids, II?
18 Nov 2010 17:21
Do you remember the story we ran earlier this year about a TV campaign in the US for 901 Silver Tequila.
Of course you do.
You may also remember me saying at the time: “You can't do that!”
Well, I'll say it again – this time to UK bar chain Revolution. The firm is launching a 2011 calendar to highlight the launch of its new online 'vodka-shop'. The calendar features current female bar staff, dubbed – by the company – 'the Vodka Vixens'.
Folks, you can't do that!
Movember - Rogues Gallery I: 15 November
15 Nov 2010 15:18
This year, just-drinks - and by 'just-drinks' I mean 'me' - is joining the Movember brotherhood. During the month of November, members grow a moustache (or 'Mo') to raise awareness of and funds for the fight against prostate cancer.
As promised at the beginning of this month, we will have an ongoing rogues gallery of Mo's here on just-drinks.
Much as I should apologise for the delay in putting up this first gallery, it would have been pointless any earlier, as I really did not have a whole lot of 'tache to flash.
But, to the gallery.
First up, we have Marcin Miller, MD of Quercus Communications here in the UK. Marcin has previous in the face furniture arena, and we all bow to him.
Second, please be upstanding for John Campbell, distillery manager at Beam Global Spirits & Wine's Laphroaig distillery up on Islay. Modest to a fault, John looks too tired to send a photo of how his Mo looks today - this dates from late last week.
Finally, yours truly - words, for once, fail me.
A further update same time next week.
If you would like to appear in just-drinks' Movember gallery, email email@example.com.