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The news stories that shaped the year - just-drinks' review of 2019 - FREE TO ACCESS

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With the end of the year looming, we take a look back at 2019. Here are the ten biggest news stories on just-drinks in the last 12 months.

10. Game of Thrones "biggest cultural collaboration" in Johnnie Walker history - Diageo CEO

The head of Diageo has hailed the success of the ongoing partnership between the group's Johnnie Walker blended Scotch whisky brand and HBO series Game of Thrones. Speaking to analysts following the release in January of results for the six months to the end of December, Ivan Menezes said the deal, which includes an expression called White Walker by Johnnie Walker, is the "biggest cultural collaboration in the history of ... [the] 200-year-old brand"

9. Molson Coors to cut up to 500 jobs, close Denver office in major restructuring

Molson Coors is to close its Denver headquarters as part of a wide-ranging restructure programme that will cull up to 500 jobs. The plans, announced in late-October, include the merging of Molson Coors Canada and US unit MillerCoors into a North American unit that will also include the Latin America business. 

8. The Coca-Cola Co's Coca-Cola Signature Mixers - Product Launch

The Coca-Cola Co has launched a range of spirits mixers under the Coca-Cola trademark. Coca-Cola Signature Mixers, which will be distributed in the UK by Coca-Cola European Partners, comprise four drinks, designed to be mixed primarily with premium dark spirits.

7. Constellation Brands calls time on Ballast Point with sale to Kings & Convicts

Constellation Brands has offloaded Ballast Point, almost exactly four years after spending US$1bn on the San Diego-based craft brewer. The group, which earlier in the year sold off some of its wine and spirits brands, confirmed in early-December that Ballast Point will transition to Illinois start-up, Kings & Convicts Brewing Co.

6. Anheuser-Busch InBev ready for Hong Kong IPO return

Anheuser-Busch InBev has confirmed new plans for an Asia-Pacific IPO less than two months after it aborted an initial attempt. The Budweiser brewer, which pulled out of a Hong Kong listing in mid-July, said in September it has resumed an application for the listing of a minority stake on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. 

5. Constellation Brands offloads lower-end wines to E&J Gallo in US$1.7bn deal

Constellation Brands has agreed to sell about 30 lower-end brands from its wine & spirits portfolio to E&J Gallo Winery as it looks to better align its business with premiumisation trends. Brands included in the transaction are "principally priced at US$11 retail and below," Constellation said. The deal, which is worth U$S1.7bn, also includes related facilities in California, New York and Washington.

4. US government body issues warning over CBD use

A US government office has warned it cannot guarantee that the use of cannabidiol (CBD) in food products is safe. The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) said it "cannot conclude that CBD is generally recognised as safe among qualified experts for its use in human or animal food" based on the lack of scientific information.

3. Dispute with Monster Beverage Corp continues as Coca-Cola readies Coke Energy

The Coca-Cola Co has finally delivered on its threat to launch an energy version of its namesake CSD, as the group waits on the outcome of a disagreement with Monster Beverage Corp. Targeting consumers aged between 18 and 35, Coca-Cola Energy launched in Hungary and Spain in April.

2. Brown-Forman will "weather storm" as whiskey tariffs on track to cost US$125m

Brown-Forman has said it expects to "weather the storm" as retaliatory trade tariffs continue to challenge American whiskey exports. Speaking to analysts following March's Q3 and YTD fiscal-2019 results announcement, group CFO Jane Morreau said the estimated annualised cost to the company of increased tariffs is set to total around US$125m.

1. Treasury Wine Estates head Michael Clarke to exit in 2020

Treasury Wine Estates CEO Mike Clarke is to step down in the second half of next year. Clarke, who has overseen a resurgence for at the Australian wine group since taking over in March 2014, announced his one-year notice in October. He will be replaced by COO Tim Ford.

just-drinks' Top Tens of 2019


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