Rum & Cocktail News of the Week 2/19/16

Remsberg keeps many of the bottles in his "permanent collection" unopened, but he's been able to track down duplicates for tasting and sharing. Photo courtesy of
Remsberg keeps many of the bottles in his “permanent collection” unopened, but he’s been able to track down duplicates for tasting and sharing. Photo courtesy of has an interview with Steve Remsberg discussing his massive collection of vintage rums from around the world and New Orleans’ rum bars.

In 2015, was another booming year for alcoholic beverages. New products, changing consumer tasts, and endless promotions led to sales of beer, wine and spirits beating growth of overall consumer package goods.

Spirits led the pack that also saw wine outpacing 2014 sales according to the Beverage Information Group’s Handbook Advance 2016. Overall the alcoholic beverage market topped $213 billion in sales.

For the 19th straight year distilled spirits experienced growth (2.3% increase) topping 215 million 9-liter cases. All spirit categories experienced growth ACCEPT for RUM which declined 1.5%.

Wines experienced a slight growth in sales while the beer sales dropped for the second consecutive year. While there has been a continuing boom in craft beer sales, national brands continue to see large drops in sales. (

WritersBlock_Logo_small Columbus, OH-based 451 Spirits recently released their Writers Block rum.

Writers Block is a white rum infused with mint and lime with an “apothecary approach”. Priced at a reasonable $24.95/750ml bottle 451 Spirits set about mixing and matching distilling, ingredients and aging techniques from around the world with a goal to create new flavors. Steps like using Irish pot stills, blended grain mash bills common to U.S. spirits and solera aging has helped them reach their goal.

“We want products with a unique flavor profile,” Chew said. “We’re not out to create volume.”

Currently they are producing around 100 proof gallons a month with an expectation of producing around 1,000 proof gallons in 2016. Unlike other local distilleries 451 Spirits does not have their own tasting room or retail store. ( is predicts four bar and nightlife trends for 2016:

1. Every night should be a special event night at bars and nightclubs.
2. Personalized service will bring Millennials in.
3. Mixology! Better cocktails will continue to be in demand.
4. Streamline operations focusing on what’s most important.

Bacardi_NewLogo_Featured Mega-United States distribution company Southern Wine & Spirits of America announced the creation of a new “network” to handle Bacardi’s portfolio of brands after the brand switched to SWSA earlier this year.

Transatlantic Spirits has been created to support US distribution of Bacardi. Transatlantic Spirits will officially launch when Southern begins dual distribution alongside the current Bacardi USA distribution on March 1st. This move is in addition to last month’s announcement of Southern Wine & Spirits pending merge with fellow US distributor Glazer’s Inc, creating Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits. The merged companies will form the largest drinks distribution company in the US.

Until the merger is completed in the second quarter of 2016, Southern Wine & Spirits and Glazer’s will distribute Bacardi separately.

“Transatlantic Spirits will be an exciting new business relationship with Bacardi USA” – Wayne E. Chaplin, president and CEO of Southern Wine & Spirits

( )

BrownForman_Logo Brown-Forman Cooperage, located in Louisville, KY, recently celebrated its 70th years of barrel-making. To commemorate the occasion, the company hosted a ceremony where guests and employees celebrated the cooperage, distilling, and whiskey production process. To conclude the event employees signed a commemorative barrel.

Consisting of 300+ employees, the company produces more than 2,500 hand-crafted barrels per day shipping their produces to spirit luminaries as Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Early Times, Canadian Mist, etc. With expectations of producing 600,000 American White Oak barrels in 2016, the company is currently operating on a 16 hour per day schedule.

“No matter where you are in the world, if you have a glass of Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Early Times, or our tequilas, Herradura and el Jimador, keep in mind that every drop was aged in a barrel that one of our cooperages made…One-hundred percent of the color and arguably more than 50% of the flavor are the result of the work the men and women at our cooperages have done” – Chris Morris, Brown-Forman master distiller and spirits historian has a nice interview with Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails.

DrinkIQ Diageo recently revamped their website. The site is designed to deliver transparency to consumers helping them to make informed choices about individual alcohol consumption. Information on the website includes breakdowns of calories, carbohydrates and proteins found in all of Diageo’s products. They also have added detailing about saturated fat, sugar, caffeine and sodium content. includes a ‘drinks calculator’ designed to allow users to track and tabulate their alcohol and calorie intake, as well as advice on how food, age, size and gender affects how the body processes alcohol. (

Public relations teams at many large rum producers have been responding to the continuing issue with chronic kidney disease of non-traditional causes (CKDnT) among Central and Latin American sugarcane workers. Thousands of cane planters and cutters have died over the last decade without an industry response to the ongoing epidemic.

CKDnT progressively damages the kidneys and can lead to kidney failure and even death. Studies have shown that poor working conditions for agricultural workers in hot and humid countries as primary catalysts. A recent report, Give Them a Break, from the advocacy group Fairfood International, Dutch trade union CNV Internationaal and the Central American Institute for Social Studies, upholds the theory. Field research done by all the three organisations linked CKDnT with work illnessess experienced by Guatemalan and Nicaraguan sugarcane plantation workers. (

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