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Archive for July, 2011

Witness the Chickness

Here is a lot of chickness. Witness it. Chick light beer is brewed and bottled by Minhas Craft Brewery of Monroe, Wisconsin. The website explains that Chick Beer is:  “The beer for women.  A premium light American lager, Chick is the only beer brand designed for women, who drink 25% of all beer sold in the U.S.”

Over on the right is Skinnygirl which of course is Tequila with natural flavors. Forbes says Beam paid Bethenny Frankel an “eyebrow-singeing $100 million” for the brand a few months ago:

That deal, which features a multi-year payout along with sales from her ever-expanding line of Skinnygirl products, bolstered Frankel’s bank account by an estimated $55 million in the past 12 months, according to sources close to Frankel (she won’t comment on the numbers); TV, we figure, earned her a mere $700,000.

The Chick has about 97 calories per 12 ounces of beer, according to the label. And the Skinnygirl has about the same number of calories, per 4 ounces. Neither appears to have any fat.

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distilled spirits specialty, malt beverage


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Cougars on Facebook

Clos Lachance has two fairly new wines. CougarJuice and MommyJuice.

In the matter of lusty cougars, Peyton Imports was fairly early, with the Urban Cougar. Perhaps she is real, what with this site exhorting over a million members to:  “Join CougarLife.com and meet great young guys before they’re snatched up.” Foreshadowing that this theme may be over-ripe, or ripe for a trademark lawsuit, Cougar Juice Vodka slinked into the bar a few months ago.

The MommyJuice label also happens to mention Facebook on the back label, prompting TTB to assert that “Information on Facebook and/or Twitter must be in compliance with all labeling and advertising regulations.”

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wine


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Sen. Schumer Says Labels Take Too Long

Sen. Charles Schumer spoke at a Finger Lakes winery late last week and said many wine labels take too long to get approved. He was especially concerned about labels submitted to TTB by New York’s more than 300 wineries. MPNnow.com reported:

the delays — sometimes up to three months — result in wineries not being able to market their wines. The Washington, D.C., agency’s staff has been shaved by budget cutbacks over the last decade while the tide of label-approval applications from wineries nationwide almost doubled from 69,000 in 1999 to 132,500 in 2010, said spokesman Tom Hogue. “And that doesn’t take into account any of the time going back and forth with applicants to make sure labels they’ve submitted actually meet the legal requirements,” Hogue said.

John Martini, co-owner of Anthony Road Wine Co. said:

label approval used to take a week. One label he submitted online May 12 was approved June 15, but he said he has heard horror stories of approvals taking 75 to 90 days. He said new wineries often have long delays because their labels don’t meet the specifics of the label law, which was approved after Prohibition ended. However, he said, “Every winery has a goofy TTB label story.”

The Senator’s press release, and letter to TTB, are here. Key points are:

  1. Many New York wineries have received rejected labels from TTB with a request to correct one issue, only to make that change and receive notification of a new correction. This creates a back and forth or ping-pong effect that can result in weeks of backlogs and headaches for these wineries, and prevents bottles from hitting the shelves. Schumer asks that the TTB clearly identify all of the issues that need to be addressed on the first rejection.
  2. Now New York wineries are reporting it can take at least one month to receive approval of an electronically-filed COLA application and two months for a paper application. It takes even longer in the event TTB rejects a label and it must be corrected and resubmitted to re-start the COLA process.
  3. For new wineries, the effect can be devastating as one winery reported waiting almost a year for label approvals which nearly kept them from opening for business this year.
  4. Wine industry experts estimate that as many as 10% of the labels waiting in the application process are personalized labels produced to commemorate special events like weddings and birthdays. In the past, TTB permitted wineries to simply apply once for approval of a template to ensure it contained the required regulatory and safety warnings, after which the winery could personalize the artwork on the front of the labels to suit the specific event. TTB now requires individual approval as the labels are changed to suit the occasion.

I would like to see more news about the one that took almost a year. While Sen. Schumer makes some good points it is something of a platitude to say TTB needs to handle far more than 100,000 labels per year quicker, with fewer mistakes, and with fewer people. He does not propose much by way of specific solutions. The suggestions about personalization (as at point 4 above) are not a cure-all because TTB does allow some personalization as here, and TTB probably never allowed one template approval to cover more than one brand, type or appellation.

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alcohol beverages generally


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The Official Spirit

How quickly times and lines continue to change and move. Just two years ago, these various military-themed labels were considered by many to be tacky. In the absence of much uproar, and with plenty of military activities since then, the march of military-themed alcohol beverages continues apace.

Heroes brand vodka claims to be Veteran Owned, all American, four times distilled — and most startling — “Official Spirit of a Grateful Nation.” The brand is owned by Travis McVey, a U.S. Marine from 1989-1992. During the past few years, McVey teamed up with Lipman Brothers and Buffalo Trace (bottler):

In 2009, Heroes LLC came to fruition when Travis contacted Robert S. Lipman – a beverage alcohol industry veteran – with a business plan for introducing a hand-crafted vodka to all of the active duty military and Veterans as well as civilians throughout the United States. He anticipated the vodka being made in America with distribution to over 6,000 military bases, 6,000 VFW posts, and 12,000 American Legions posts.

When Travis presented his Heroes Vodka proposal … Lipman was intrigued. The successful entrepreneur,whose family established Lipman Brothers in 1939, has been sitting at the helm of the oldest distributor of wine and spirits in Tennessee for nearly 25 years. Hundreds of pitches pass across his desk annually, but something about this one resonated on a different level.

In a further sign of the times, it took more than nine weeks to get the label approved. In these other instances and different times, it took far less time to get other official-looking spirits labels approved:  2007 (Valor Vodka, two weeks), 2008 (44th Inauguration vodka, two weeks), 2009 (Operation Homefront Bourbon, a few days).

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vodka


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