Arts & Entertainment

Dowd on Drinks: Clearing The News Shelves

We’re barely out of the summer doldrums and news keeps breaking in the world of adult beverages.

Here’s a sampling of some of the more interesting tidbits you can use to amaze and amuse your friends at the next cocktail party or beer blast you attend:

— Battle of the Bubblies: Ah, bubbly vodka. The folks who got there first are not exactly welcoming any competition.

Phillip Maitland, president of International English Distillers Ltd., which introduced 02 brand sparkling vodka to the U.S. market in January, has taken the offensive against hip-hop mogul Dr. Dre and his plans to release a sparkling vodka in a joint venture with Drinks America.

“I am very complimented that Dr. Dre has recognized how innovative and special our sparkling vodka is, and is trying to copy it,” Maitland said.

“My concern is that it isn’t produced by our patented method and may well turn out to be a very poor imitation. I hope that consumers will not be swayed by the celebrity endorsement of a copycat product by Dr. Dre.”

He added: “There are a lot of mixed messages going on. Dre’s unreleased album (which will go on sale at the same time as the drink) is even called ‘Detox,’ to add a bitterly ironic twist.”

No word yet on Dre’s response to Maitland, but rest assured one will be coming.

(For a review panel’s view of O2, go to

— A Truly Exclusive Scotch: Morrison Bowmore has launched a new Scotch whisky expression from its Islay distillery, Bowmore 16 Year Old Wine Cask Matured.

The single malt is bottled at its natural cask strength of 53.5 percent ABV (107 proof). It has been aged principally in Bordeaux wine casks.

North American consumers will have to pull some strings to obtain a bottle. Bowmore is selling it exclusively through specialist retailers in the U.K.

Recommended retail price: $107.80 U.S.

— Alcohol Energy Drinks Halted: It obviously was targeted at the younger set, if its cartoonish Web site ( is any indication.

That didn’t set well with a lot of law enforcement types, and attorneys general from 25 states, who asked MillerCoors to keep its new caffeinated, alcohol-laced energy drink, off the market.

The product, Sparks Red, contains 8m percent alcohol. It was scheduled for an October 1 launch. The company said in a statement Friday that is will hold off on the debut even though it had said as late as Wednesday that it would proceed with the launch.

The attorneys general made the request because, they said, young people would be particularly vulnerable to the combined affects of caffeine and alcohol.

It should be noted that the federal government had earlier approved the Sparks Red formula.

The pullback seems to be a developing trend in the beverage industry. In

June, Anheuser-Busch said it would reformulate its Tilt and Bud Extra brands to remove the stimulants they contain. The action was take as part of a settlement with 11 attorneys general who had objected to the drinks.

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