Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Jingo Lingo: The perils of jargon in the craft wines, beers, and spirts world from both sides

Recently Amanda Schuster, the highly respected spirits and cocktail journalist, Senior Editor-in-Chief and contributor at The Alcohol Professor, and author of the up-coming NEW YORK COCKTAILS (Fall 17, Cider Mill Press) complained of the over use and under imaginative jingoism of the craft world on her facebook page. And dozens of writers climbed on board the post agreeing.

I think the world of Amanda. And I think she is indeed correct. But I am unique in that I work both sides of the table.

The jargon that Amanda referred to is used (and sometimes abused) by small producers who want to distance themselves from mass produced product. Writers have taught them a language a list of words that signify the difference

Now the words have been overused. In some cases co-opted by larger manufactures looking to join or co-opt the craft movement itself.

These were the words that the manufactures were taught to use by the writers. These were the words the writers responded to:
Small batch.
Hand made.
Hand crafted.
Soon words like expression and release will also be passé

I want to go on the record: As a writer and a producer, I have repeated these words myself!

Hell, go to an etsy page - it's filled with this jargon! Or artisnal creameries, craft hand made bakeries, etc. The words have been befouled by almost every industry! It's cancerous!

With the plethora of new wineries and distilleries, cideries and breweries, these words have become repeated so often they have lost their effectiveness. Furthermore not to be out distanced, the big producers, the mass producers, have co-opted as many of these terms as possible, packaging new products for release caked in this language in order to lessen the distance between themselves and the craft moment which has grown in strength and eaten up market share, reviewer columns, and shelf space.

Today the writers have become immune to the words above. It has all now been reduced to just jargon. To be sure, manufacturers have abused words, repeating them so often that what one becomes numb. And so the writers have become non-responsive to these words to the point of heckling. Indeed writers pass amongst themselves endless press releases they have received packed to the point of bursting with these words to the point of hilarity. Lots of eyes rolling. LOL. LMAO. SMH. These are the accompanying comments.

From the producers point of view, the producers have always responded to the words that the writers respond to. They wanted to use the words that they knew got the writers attention. It is an endless cycle, like animals or insects eating their young.

Suffice to say two things are happening. Conglomerates like Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Suntory/Beam, Bacardi, and a host of others have created brands to compete. And These large mass producers are in fact buying craft distillers Winery cideries and breweries. It is the wave of the future.

So where is the next wave of language to come from? It is sad to say that the producers have always repeated about what they picked up from reading. Like good little grade school students they (dare I say we?) want to repeat terms, phrases, and, events, and dates that will resonate. All producers big and small repeated the magic language, the spells, that would entice the writers like sirens to their booze.

And indeed the writers created some of the words themselves, or at least imbued those terms with their sense of magic. There is no doubt that the writers participated in the creating some of this jargon. Those who disagree are lying to themselves or to each other, denying their own impact on the industry.

What then are the new words to replace the ones that we have above? What Terminology sets the craft world apart from the mass produced? How do you explain that on the label or on some marketing material?

Indeed, the bigger question is now - giant producer - small producer - how do we really explain the difference. It shouldn't be about size (god, does it always come down to size?) shouldn't it be about quality? or the difference in manufacturing? That's a whole other post....

There is no question that the craft producers in each segment of the liquor industry need to find a new set of terminology that explains the difference between them and their larger brethren. The first to do so will gain a wide birth. The last t embrace a new terminology will not only be a rotten egg, but they will end up off the shelves and out of business.

There will be a few stumbles along the way. There will be some head shaking and some eye rolling at some producer claims and silly terminology. But we must take this new plunge. It is the next evolutionary step for our industry. It will take someone with imagination. A team of people.  Perhaps even a few writers will participate. But the new language needs to emerge soon.

Last question: Who is willing to go first?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hudson Valley Distillers Imperial Whiskey and Barrel Rested Gin (NY)

Recently, I did an event and a tasting at Hudson Valley Distillers. Hudson Valley Distillers is owned by Tom Yozzo and Chris Moyer, and their wives Jennifer and Jen. A great, great group of folks. They had invited me to do a wine talk n a rainy weekday evening and I wasn't sure what to expect. As goes with any event at a winery, brewery, or distillery, on a rainy weeknight. In the end, it was a great success on many levels.

First was the new tastingroom. The two separate buildings -the distillery itself and The Grove, their cocktail lounge, we now connected and filled with beautiful furniture. The space is airy but not cavernous, with little groups of furniture to add intimacy to the area. Absolutely lovely!

The next pleasant surprise was despite the rain, a nice number of people attended my little wine talk. Met some people I didn't know and some people who knew me but whom I had never met. Chris Moyer introduced me, and off we went. I bored hem with jokes and chicanery....and dispense a little wine knowledge along the way.

Then came the god stuff. Tom Yozzo introduced me to two lovely new releases from Hudson Valley Distillers. 

The first new baby was the Clear Mountain Gin Barrel Rested. This is the classic Clear Mountain Gin made from grapes grown locally at Hudson Chatham Winery. The gin was aged in second use Applejack barrels for approximately six months. This was a brand new, small release, limited quantity, but more is on the way. It was a fantastic spirit. Light, ethereal, floral, yet rounded off by the sweet oakiness of the old applejack barrel. If you like Barr Hill Tom Cat, you will LOVE this gorgeous sipper! A must have for gin drinkers!

The other wonderful surprise was the new release of an old favorite, Hudson Valley Distillery Chancellor's Imperial Whisky. This is one of my new favorite whiskies in the Hudson Valley. This is a big, big whisky, perfect for serious Bourbon fans who want to take the next step towards more serious whisky. It had been previously released in small quantities, but is now back in stock in a more serious way.

Using an imperial stout made with chocolate and crystal malts, this has all the big brown lusciousness of a BIG bourbon,...but none of the sweetness. The chocolate and stout kind of come through here in an odd way. A big wave of caramel up front, accompanied by figs and chocolate eventually gives way to brown bread and dark tea. If you through at first it would end sweet, you bet wrong.. It segued beautifully from one to another. And it was immensely rich and warming, like a dark brown bread pudding, but without the sweetness. Absolutely an eye popper! 

There is so much going on at Hudson Valley Distillers. You simply have to go there. You are missing out!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Venture Capital Firm Wanted: Spirits Business Portfolio For Sale!

We are at a tipping point! And the bankers too slow are going to lose out. Is that YOU? If your investment firm isn't looking at this exploding industry, then you are tooooooo late, and playing from behind! The times is now to assemble an east coast portfolio of wine beers and spirits. The industry has turned that corner.

I have a brilliant damned idea! If an investment firm can put together a capital fund of $50 million (or more) I can deliver a sizable portfolio of regional craft distillers, wineries, cidermakers, and brewers unlike anything anyone has ever seen. And then you can turn around and leverage those brands, and then sell it off to one of the big spirits firms who need to buy big blocks of revenue to increase their over all market share and gross revenues.

Five major regional craft distilleries have been purchased in the last six months:
Tuthilltown Distillers was just purchased by William Grants and Sons just this week.
Westland Distillery was purchased by Remy Cointreau in December 2016.
High West was purchased by Constellation Brand in October 2016 as well for $160M.
Sullivan's Cove Distillery (in Australia) was sold in December 2016.
Bulldog Gin was sold to Gruppo Campari for $58M last year as well.

As an industry expert, I am uniquely placed within the industry to deliver such brands and names so as to create a powerful portfolio that can deliver quality wines, beers, and spirits.

The craft beverage business, especially in states like New York, Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Colorado, and Michigan have produced regional powerhouses that are ripe for purchase and expansion. The number of these businesses have exploded exponentially. New York alone is now the second state in the union for distillery licenses.

Wineries have been expanding, breweries have been mushrooming, and cideries have been swelling with the juice of success. These smaller, burgeoning businesses are receiving record scores from the trade magazines and journals, are gaining immense industry coverage, and are ripe for the picking and assembling!

$50 to $100 million buys you a seat at the luxury brand beverage table! It makes you an immediate player, and the best positioned, once assembled, for growth and for resale!

I can assemble a team of experts in each field to target the businesses in the North American market to star up an instant, diversified craft beverage powerhouse.

For plans, expert advice, and an experienced executive with a proven track record, with corporate experience, to spearhead this innovative and full-proof plan, please contact asap.