Arts & Entertainment

Dowd On Drinks: Summer Anything but Slow News Period

Summertime may seem like a slow news period, when lolling by the pool or seeking shade under a leafy tree are of paramount importance. But in the adult beverage industry, activity never slacks off.

A few newsy examples:

• Talk about consumer demand. The first batch of legal whisky ever made in the Shetland Islands of Scotland was stolen before any of it reached market. A 360-case consignment of Muckle Flugga brand was stolen from a depot where it was waiting to be shipped overseas to VIP shareholders. Investigators said it appeared that thieves cut through the walls of a warehouse and stole the whisky, worth an estimated $59,000.

• The ghosts of brewers past may be smiling now that a former iconic brewery has reopened in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. The Boston Beer Co. has begun producing Samuel Adams beer at the former Stroh’s brewery near Allentown, Pa., seven years after the facility was closed. It will produce 1.6 million barrels of Sam Adams annually.

• The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. is taking on a Delaware plan that would raise the tax on beer, wine and spirits by 50 percent. A radio ad targets what DISCUS calls the “hypocrisy of legislators spending millions of dollars toward boosting tourism, while at the same time proposing devastating taxes on tourism-related businesses and their workers.”

And, in new-product news:

• 1800 Tequila has added a high-alcohol expression to its line. Proximo Spirits Inc. claims its new 1800 Select Silver, a 100 percent agave spirit, is the first 100-proof tequila on the market. It is packaged in a glass bottle with a stopper that doubles as a shot glass. Although this is a young silver — or blanco — tequila, it has been double distilled then blended with “a touch” of aged tequila. It will retail for a suggested price of $29.99 for a 750ml bottle.

• Back in March, I wrote about Miller Brewing Co.’s test marketing of a new beer called MGD 64 (“MGD 64 is not a spray lubricant’). That testing has worked so well that the Milwaukee company now plans a national rollout of the 64-calorie version of its Miller Genuine Draft Light brand. CEO Tom Long said in a message to distributors that MGD 64 will replace the 110-calorie MGD Light brand around the country by mid-September.

• The French Foreign Legion has officially gone into the wine business.

Its “Esprit de Corps” wines are going on sale online for about $11 per bottle to raise funds for its veterans homes. Its 2007 Cotes de Provence red and rose vintages are produced from grapes grown in southern France on property purchased in 1953 to provide shelter for wounded and elderly Legionnaires.

The storied Legion, a 7,700-man elite military organization founded in 1831 and easily recognized by the kepi blanc, its famous hat, is made up of volunteers from 150 nations. It has often been a place of last resort for adventurers, fugitives and soldiers of fortune.

(William M. Dowd covers the adult beverage industry online at

.2008 Hearst Newspapers