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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 17:18

As if winning 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the UEFA Champions League twice wasn't enough, it appears Sir Alex Ferguson was also a pretty canny wine collector.

The former Manchester United boss, who famously liked to invite opposition managers for a post-match libation, is selling off a stash of his vintage wines at auction, it was revealed today (16 April). The 5,000 or so bottles are expected to fetch around GBP3m through Christie's. 

Around 75% of the collection is reportedly vintages of French Burgundy Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. And according to Christie's international director of wine, David Elswood, the label is "the wine of the moment in terms of demand". 

No surprise really that Fergie, as he's affectionately known by some fans, was such a shrewd operator in this field too. Just a shame that some of the current Manchester United squad has not matured in the same way as his fine wine collection. 

*Disclaimer: The author of this blog is a Manchester United fan. From the pre-Fergie days mind. 

 



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Date: Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 16:19

A sign that the modern world's love of nostalgia is getting seriously out of hand appeared today with news that mead is the fastest growing category in the US alcoholic drinks market.

Admittedly, this bombshell came from the potentially partisan American Mead Makers Association.  But 130% growth last year, as the association flagged, is still impressive. As one mead maker said: “The last 300 years have been kind of rough for the business, but it's been picking up.” 

But that the dark ages' favourite flagon-filler is firmly back in fashion should be no surprise. Most mead, after all, is made using honey, and as the world's whisk(e)y producers have discovered over the past few years, consumers are very keen on that ingredient.

Strong growth for Brown-Forman's Jack Daniel's range has been built on its Tennessee Honey variant, while Diageo last month launched a honey-flavoured version of its J&B Scotch brand. 

Ads and packaging across the spirits categories are increasingly emblazoned with buzzing bees and dripping honeycombs as marketers make the most of a sweetener that manages to be both authentically sweet and wholly natural. 

Was it ever thus?

According to the American Mead Makers Association, evidence of honey in fermented beverages dates back more than 9,000 years. Which goes to show that, underneath all the marketing and branding, consumer tastes never really change. 

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Date: Monday, 14 Apr 2014 13:51

On just-drinks last week:

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Date: Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 15:11

Most marketing campaigns have familiar goals - an increase in sales, wider consumer recognition.

Others, such as the latest from Scottish beer brand Kestral lager - seek to change the entire lexicon of one of the world's most popular and venerable sports.

The Kestrel Brewing Company, owned by former Wells & Young's MD Nigel McNally, is asking golfers to call a hole-in-one - when the ball finds the cup in one shot - a “kestrel”. The company claims this would dovetail nicely with golf's other bird-based terms such as birdie, eagle and albatross, while also raising awareness of dwindling kestrel numbers in the UK.

To achieve this, Kestrel will launch a campaign in 250 UK golf clubs. But while I laud the brewer's lofty aims, let's hope bigger beer makers don't get ideas about other popular sporting terms. Otherwise, come the World Cup in Brazil this year we may all be watching players scoring the winning Budweiser. 

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Date: Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 15:11

Most marketing campaigns have familiar goals - an increase in sales, wider consumer recognition.

Others, such as the latest from Scottish beer brand Kestral lager - seek to change the entire lexicon of one of the world's most popular and venerable sports.

The Kestrel Brewing Company, owned by former Wells & Young's MD Nigel McNally, is asking golfers to call a hole-in-one - when the ball finds the cup in one shot - a “kestrel”. The company claims this would dovetail nicely with golf's other bird-based terms such as birdie, eagle and albatross, while also raising awareness of dwindling kestrel numbers in the UK.

To achieve this, Kestrel will launch a campaign in 250 UK golf clubs. But while I laud the brewer's lofty aims, let's hope bigger beer makers don't get ideas about other popular sporting terms. Otherwise, come the World Cup in Brazil this year we may all be watching players scoring the winning Budweiser. 

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Date: Monday, 07 Apr 2014 13:33

The latest just-drinks webinar is almost upon us. The hour-long presentation, which takes place tomorrow (8 April) at 1400 UTC, looks at the results of our industry confidence survey. We’d love for you to join us for the free-to-attend webinar, full details of which can be found here.

Meanwhile, on just-drinks last week:

Finally, on a personal note, I shall be running the London Marathon this coming Sunday (13 April). Here's why.

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Date: Monday, 07 Apr 2014 10:04

Just over three years ago, my wife gave birth to our son, Conor. He arrived eight weeks early.

To thank the charity that supported his premature arrival - and the neo-natal ward that kept him alive - I am running the London Marathon on Sunday, 13 April.

You can read Conor's story - and sponsor me, should you wish - by clicking here.

Please, give as generously as you can.

Thank you.

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Date: Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014 17:22

Despite the often cut-throat nature of the drinks industry, it's good to know some companies still have a sense of humour. 

And today, 1 April, was the day to indulge that.

Kentucky Bourbon producer Buffalo Trace had some fun with news of its plans to build an open-air whiskey barrel storage 'farm'. A world first, the company claimed, which would see up to 150,000 barrels being stored in outdoor trenches. A press release suggested that a tornado that tore off a warehouse roof, leaving barrels exposed for six months to the elements, had led to some excellent whiskey being produced. 

Nice try, guys!

Meanwhile, Diageo did its best to fool folk with news that its rum brand Captain Morgan would be getting a new flavour: 'Taco'.

A press release promised "Mexico's freshest blends of cheddar, jack and Chihuahua cheeses, along with green chilies, perfectly diced tomatoes and succulent beef" as part of the offering. The folk who work on Captain Morgan even took the trouble of making a Vine

We also had our own fun, as managing editor Olly Wehring revealed details of an astounding discovery: a brick that produces all manner of drinks when left in water

You couldn't make it up! Well, we did.

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Date: Monday, 31 Mar 2014 14:53

We’re a week away from our next webinar. The hour-long presentation, which takes place on Tuesday 8 April at 1400 UTC, looks at the results of our industry confidence survey. We’d love for you to join us for the free-to-attend webinar, full details of which can be found here.

Meanwhile, on just-drinks last week:

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Date: Thursday, 27 Mar 2014 17:51

Health campaigners have long bemoaned the fact that many forms of popular culture – films, TV, music – glamourise getting drunk. 

The other issue, for those with concerns about alcohol consumption levels, is that these mediums rarely show the consequences of over-indulging. England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, was blowing this particular trumpet today, in her annual report

“In popular culture, drinking alcohol to excess is sometimes portrayed as ‘normal behaviour,” the report said. “Drunkenness is also commonly depicted without negative consequences in popular films and is frequently mentioned in contemporary popular music.” 

But it's not just naughty modern-day musicians and film producers, it's an historic issue, according to Prof Davies. 

None other than William Shakespeare was also guilty of such behaviour. “This is not necessarily a problem solely of modern culture: every one of Shakespeare’s plays mentions alcohol, yet there are rather fewer mentions of the negative health consequences of excess consumption,” Davies says in her report. 

A new enemy then for the health lobby? History's most irresponsible playwright: Shakespeare. 

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Date: Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 12:33

Those that know me know that I like my cricket (it's a sport, American people). As an England fan, I - like many others - have suffered a torrid winter, with the Australians tearing my team a new one Down Under.

To banish those dark, cold memories, I have Australia's Accolade Wines to thank (the irony) for inviting me to the home of cricket, Lord's, in London last week. The unveiling of Accolade's Hardys wine brand as a sponsor of the England & Wales Cricket Board allowed me to head to Lord's as fast as my legs could carry me.

The highlight? Well, this!

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Date: Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 09:12

It's about that time of year when just-drinks hosts its annual webinar, looking at the results of our industry confidence survey. We'll run the live, free-to-attend webinar on Tuesday 8 April at 1400 UTC and we'd love for you to join us. Full details and a link to registration can be found here.

Meanwhile, on just-drinks last week:

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Date: Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 16:30

Diageo and Brown-Forman have been at loggerheads the past week over what is best for the Tennessee whiskey category. (For a full run down of the unseemly, yet wholly enjoyable, affair, read just-drinks' managing editor's take here).

What spiked my interest, though, was Brown-Forman revealing how it handles its Early Times whiskey brand across its markets. 

Now this is complicated, so please bear with me.

Diageo had claimed to be “defending the honour” of the rival Early Times because it is aged in used casks, something which Brown-Forman had previously said was a mark of inferior quality in the Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey categories.

But, in an interview with just-drinks, a Brown-Forman spokesperson said Early Times, despite being made in Kentucky, is not actually a Bourbon. Well, not in the US at least. The version of Early Times that is produced for its domestic market is aged in used casks and, hence, is known as an American whiskey. However, for its other major market, Japan, it is aged in new casks, and IS a Bourbon. 

Still with me?

Any suggestion that Early Times is a Bourbon is, as the spokesperson made clear, erroneous. Unless you are in Japan: Then it's most definitely a Bourbon. 

Talk about joined-up marketing.

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Date: Monday, 17 Mar 2014 12:34

On just-drinks last week:

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Date: Monday, 10 Mar 2014 12:47

On just-drinks last week:

Don’t forget, we’re running our daily preview of this month's ProWein exhibition in the run-up to the Dusseldorf show, which starts on 23 March. We'll provide a run-down of which companies will be attending and what they will be highlighting so, for your firm to appear in the ProWein daily diary, email details to news@just-drinks.com.

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Date: Monday, 03 Mar 2014 16:45

On just-drinks last week:

We start our daily preview of this month's ProWein exhibition today. Leading up to the event, which opens in Dusseldorf on 23 March, we'll provide a run-down of which companies will be attending and what they will be highlighting. For your firm to appear in the ProWein daily diary, email details to news@just-drinks.com.

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Date: Monday, 24 Feb 2014 22:41

La Martiniquaise-Bardinet's vodka brand Poliakov has today (24 February) claimed a first with the news that it has launched a bottle into space. Well, 20 miles up, at least.

As far as marketing tactics go, the footage of the bottle rising into the stratosphere is fairly impressive, though strikingly similar to that of other amateur YouTube space launches that have seen action figures, and even a slice of pizza, hit similar heights.

Vodka, however, has a surprisingly limited relationship with the great unknown - which is surprising, bearing in mind its connections with that most space-travelled of nations, Russia. 

While US missions have always been alcohol free, cosmonauts have long been allowed the odd tipple, though not of vodka, of Cognac. Handy for those cold nights on the Mir space station.

According to this article in the UK's Daily Telegraph, back in the 1990s, Mir crew members used to have so many bottles of the French spirit hidden around the vessel, they would show up unexpectedly.

"Sometimes we would bump into a bottle of Cognac," one said. "What a joy it was."

 

 

 

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Date: Monday, 24 Feb 2014 15:48

On just-drinks last week:

Finally, the wine world will be gearing up for ProWein, which takes place in Dusseldorf next month. In the run-up to the show, we shall be running a daily diary piece, previewing who's doing what at the exhibition. To be included in our pre-show coverage, please send all information tonews@just-drinks.com.

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Date: Monday, 24 Feb 2014 12:31

When The Coca-Cola Co reported sliding sales and profits for 2013 last week, the media here in the UK wanted to speak to someone in the know about the performance.

So, they came to me.

Head to around 42:45 to hear me being interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live on Wednesday, and marvel at their reaction to the phrase "share of throat".

That'll learn 'em.

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Date: Friday, 21 Feb 2014 16:22

From early April, the Government in the UK is implementing a ban on the sale of alcohol below cost.

If, like many, you're confused about what exactly this floor will equate to, then worry no more. Hats off to Tim Wilson, who runs the Wilson Drinks Report, for coming to the rescue.

Click here to use Tim's free, online duty + VAT calculator.

The application will give you the 'floor price' for the specific combination of drink and pack size.

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