Archive for the ‘Administrative’ Category

Whiskey Shortages? Not at Beam (Suntory)

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Author - Fred MinnickWhy did the world suddenly start to care about the whiskey shortages?

On May 8, Buffalo Trace sent a media-wide press release that detailed looming bourbon shortages. From there, serious journalists covered these tragic circumstances and whiskey shortage stories became a trendy subject on slow news days. So, if you’ve been wondering where all these stories came from, now you know.

With that said, the shortage is real, to some extent. The industry is feeling heavy demand with no end in sight.

But the world’s largest bourbon maker, Jim Beam, has been relatively quiet in these doom-and-gloom whiskey stories. There’s good reason. Suntory purchased the company in January, and it’s been quietly adding to its Kentucky distilleries, had the acquisition pass through regulatory bodies, and developed a new Beam-Suntory logo that offers a subtle contrast in American creativity and Japanese efficiency.

BeamSuntoryLogoJust how is Beam doing in this whiskey shortage? According to Clarkson Hine, Beam-Suntory’s senior vice president of corporate communications and public affairs, Beam was ready for the demand.

“We have been investing substantially over the past several years to increase our bourbon capacity, including the recently announced third still at Maker’s Mark and construction of new rackhouses,” Hine says. “Given the laydown decisions made years ago, we currently have supplies across our bourbon brands to support consistent healthy growth.”

But not all bourbons are created equal. According to Beam’s financial 2013 results, Maker’s Mark grew 17% and Knob Creek 14%, while Jim Beam paced at 4% growth and Basil Hayden’s threw a party with 29% growth.

Hine says Australia’s market softness impacted Jim Beam’s growth rate and the company’s marketing strategy for Basil Hayden’s led to consumers discovering the 80-proof whiskey for the first time.

BH750_06“We made a strategic decision last year to boost investment behind Basil Hayden’s, particularly in the on-premise and in social media,” Hine says. “We believe the brand has the potential to be the next break-out star from the Small Batch Collection, building on the ongoing success of Knob Creek.”

Basil Hayden’s is certainly poised to capture the beginner’s market. People tend to find this lower-proof bourbon to be subtle and with a couple ice cubes, it offers the newbie little to no bite. In social media, the bourbon appears in photos set in places of relaxation, from a park bench to a bathtub, appealing to one’s inner tranquility, a refreshing attempt at presenting to new consumers.

Meanwhile, Beam-Suntory finds its new company in change. Starting July 1, Hine says, the company begins to transition distribution for the legacy Suntory brands into the old Beam routes to market in the U.S. and Germany.

“We expect that management of Suntory’s international spirits business outside of Japan will integrate into Beam Suntory in stages by the fourth quarter, with the Japan business to merge into Beam Suntory by the end of 2014,” Hine says. “Given the size and importance of the Japan business, Japan will become Beam Suntory’s fourth operating region.”

As for the American whiskey, well, Beam Suntory seems to be business as usual. Expect to see two new editions in the Jim Beam Signature Craft Harvest Bourbon collection this fall; one will add brown rice to the mashbill in place of rye, the other will replace rye with red winter wheat. Meanwhile, the trucks keep moving in and out of the Clermont and Boston, Kentucky, facilities with tankers of whiskey and barrels to stack. Beam seems to be perfectly under control.

The reason I tell you this: the next time you hear your buddy talk about the whiskey shortage, you can tell them to calm down. If Jim Beam—excuse me, if Beam Suntory runs out of whiskey, then it’s time to panic.

Taking some time off

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Just for vacation, that is. For the first time in 20 years, my family will be taking two weeks vacation, starting Wednesday.

The next issue of Whisky Advocate will be coming out in a few weeks, and next week I’ve scheduled a blog post listing our top ten highest rated whiskies in the upcoming Buying Guide. That should keep you entertained for a little while while I’m gone. Plus, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of things to say and whiskies to update you on upon my return.

Until then…

18th Annual Whisky Advocate Awards: daily posts beginning February 1st

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The Whisky Advocate Awards program is the longest-running annual whisky awards program, now in its eighteenth year. The awards recognize excellence in the world of whisky.

The awards are announced annually in the spring issue, which subscribers receive in early March. But the 2011 award recipients will be announced here, first, beginning February 1st. The daily posts will also reach my Twitter feed (@JohnHansell) and the Whisky Advocate Facebook page.  (More details on the foundation of the Whisky Advocate Awards program–how they are chosen and why–will precede the awards announcements on January 31, 2012.)

Why are they announced here first? The daily announcements reach a larger audience far faster by way of social media than in print media. This blog also offers an interactive element between whisky enthusiasts, industry personnel, and press. Previous year’s postings prompted a lot of discussion and I’m certain that will continue with this year’s award announcements.

Beginning February 1st, visit this blog daily to read the award winner, the magazine write-up, and the comments that follow. The dates the award winners will be announced are as follows:

February 1st: Artisan Whisky of the Year (North America)

February 2nd: American Whisky of the Year

February 3rd: Canadian Whisky of the Year

February 4th: Irish Whiskey of the Year

February 5th: Japanese Whisky of the Year

February 6th: New World Whisky of the Year

February 7th: Blended/Blended Malt Scotch Whisky of the Year

February 8th: Speyside Single Malt of the Year

February 9th: Islay Single Malt of the Year

February 10th: Highlands Single Malt of the Year

February 11th: Lowlands/Campbeltown Single Malt of the Year

February 12th: Distillery of the Year

February 13th: Lifetime Achievement Award

An important note for Malt Advocate magazine subscribers

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

The fall issue of Malt Advocate will be released a couple weeks later than usual. This is intentional, and I promise it will be worth the wait. We spent the last several months re-designing the magazine, and we will relaunch it at a special event in about two weeks.

A magazine re-design is nothing new. During the 20 years of Malt Advocate, we have re-designed it several times. This one, however, is our biggest–and the one we are most proud of.

That’s all I am going to say for now. I just wanted to let our loyal subscribers know why they will be getting their issue a little later than usual. 

When it is released, I will let you know right here. Stay tuned…

Reviews, R & R

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Beginning tomorrow, I will be vacationing until Monday, August 22nd. Not to worry, though. I have schedule a bunch of reviews to be posted while I am gone. That should keep you entertained until I return. Cheers!

A few administrative notes

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

I hope you enjoyed the daily whisky reviews this past month. I think it was a good way to introduce you to the other whisky reviewers in the Malt Advocate team. Although they follow the Malt Advocate rating scheme, each one has his own style.

Our new issue of Malt Advocate hits the streets today. It’s a special one: our 20th Anniversary issue. If you are not a subscriber, be sure to pick up a copy. It’s our largest issue yet–and our most personal. You’ll find out how Malt Advocate (and WhiskyFest) was created, and there’s an interview with my wife Amy (pictured) and me. She has been my business partner since the beginning. Without her, there would be no Malt Advocate or Whiskyfest.

This will probably be my last post for about a week. I’m taking the next couple days off for vacation. Then, the first half of next week is filled with editorial meetings, doctor visits (routine stuff), etc.

We have some very exciting things planned for the next 20 years. We’re already working on them. Stay tuned…

A good reason to “friend” me on Facebook

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

I’m not a Facebook fanatic. Same goes for Twitter. But I do use both, along with this blog, to get whisky information out to whisky enthusiasts.

I usually save this blog for more formal posts. It’s Malt Advocate magazine’s official blog, and I try to keep it professional.

Having said this, if you want more whisky information than what I’m posting here, and you don’t mind if it isn’t formal or “official,” then you might want to friend me on Facebook. You’ll find me there regularly (usually daily). I’m putting comments up there that you might find interesting, but on a more personal level.

I will often take pictures of whiskies that I just received and perhaps offer informal thoughts on them (if I’ve tasted them). For example, today I received this very interesting bottle of Irish whiskey called Inish Turk Beg (pictured), and I posted it up on Facebook here.

I’ll also take pictures and comment on what I’m drinking on any given day if I feel motived. I don’t know if that interests you. Sometimes it’s pretty cool stuff–either something new, or something from my bar. Yes, sometimes when I am down in my bar drinking, I take a picture and–in some weird social media way–invite you to join me.

Anyway, I thought I would pass this on to you.  I’m easy to find on Facebook, but here’s a quicker link. I’m also on twitter (@johnhansell), but the only things that go there most of the time are links to my blog posts. However, I do answer questions that people ask me on Twitter, so that’s another way to reach me.

Malt Advocate also has an official Facebook page, which I think you might also find interesting. Right now, links to all my blog posts go there, and I stop by regularly to comment and answer questions.

So, I don’t mean this as a marketing ploy (although it might come across this way, and it might get me new friends on Facebook). I just want to let you know that there’s another way to stay in touch with me in a more informal level–especially considering my blog posts have become less frequent lately due to time constraints.

Fair warning, though: you might have to sort through the occassional “hobby” posts: usually of me and my buddies fishing, boating, down at the Jersey Shore on weekends, or perhaps smoking a cigar (with a whisky, or course…)

Bottom line: I’m trying to make myself as accessible as possible to anyone who loves whisky and wants to learn more about whisky. That’s the least I can do for you.

P.S. (I’m adding this after my original post.) If you do ask to friend me, please include a note that you are a WDJK reader, so I know why you are trying to friend me. I’m learning this the hard way. Thanks!

Next post: Malt Advocate Whisky Awards, beginning Feb 16th

Friday, February 4th, 2011

I’m taking some vacation. This will be my last post until I return, but we will hit the ground running when I get back.

Until then, I encourage you to check out the other fun whisky sites that I have links to.

Be safe, have fun, and drink some great whisky while I’m gone.

Whisky reviews “Shelf Talkers” now online for printing

Friday, February 4th, 2011

This is more for the whisky companies, importers, distributors, and retailers. But, if you go to our online Buyer’s Guide (click on the link above in the header), you can now print a shelf talker of a review you are interested in. The link is below the review.

Retailers, you can now put them on their shelves below the the whisky to help guide consumers on a whisky they will like. (And it just might help you sell more whisky too!)

It just went live yesterday, so if you see any glitches, please let us know.

Coming in January: A whisky review every day

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Every weekday, that is. I’ve been reviewing a lot of new whiskies, but I haven’t had a chance to post them up here. So, starting Monday, January 3rd (make that Tuesday, January 4th–I need a day to get organized from being out of the office for the holidays), I’ll post one review up each day for the entire month.

I hope this gives you something to look forward to. (And don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll find some other things to talk about too. My posts won’t just be reviews.)

Have a great Christmas everyone!