US drinks group, Brown-Forman Beverages Worldwide, and brewer, Miller Brewing Co., have announced that the ready-to-drink Jack Daniel's "malternative" will be launched in July and will be called Jack Daniel's Original Hard Cola. The brand will be available in the on premise market in July and in retail outlets by September, the companies said.

Like other similar "malternatives" the drink is malt-based rather than spirits-based but the company said it does have some Jack Daniel's flavouring. According to Brown-Forman's director for JD, Erin Schlader, it "has a cola base flavour in which you can taste Jack Daniel's." Schlader added that some consumers said the drink had a vanilla flavour, while others said it tastes a little bit like root beer. It has an alcohol level of 5% abv and is to be produced and distributed by Miller Brewing.

Further details were also revealed. Jack Daniel's Original Hard Cola will be packaged in 12-ounce amber long-necked bottles, with labelling which borrows from the JD design. Schlader said the company expects to ship about five million 24-bottle cases of Jack Daniel's Original Hard Cola in the second half of 2002. There are 24 12-ounce bottles in each case. The company plans to begin national and cable TV advertising for the brand in the autumn.

Brown-Forman's entry into the malt-based RTD sector follows other moves by spirits companies into a fast-growing area of the market, led by Diageo's Smirnoff Ice. A collaboration between Miller and Allied Domecq saw the launch of Stolichnaya Citrona in April and will soon roll out Sauza Diablo. Miller also produces SKYY Blue in partnership with Skyy Spirits, owners of Skyy vodka.

The leading brewer, Anheuser-Busch, also joined the fray earlier this year with the launch of Bacardi Silver, while Coors produces the Zima brand and will soon be adding another RTD, Vibe, to its portfolio.