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Spring frosts and grapevine diseases have cut this year's total output of French wine down 29% from last year, according to the French farm ministry. This year's production numbers are even lower than the country's previous worst years of 1991 and 2017. The Burgundy-Beaujolais region has suffered the most losses, but there is a sliver lining: experts predict zero impact on the wine supply in the marketplace thanks to reserves from previous years.
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The liquor business is going through a renaissance. Companies like Denmark's Empirical Spirits are distilling unique types of booze from ingredients other than traditional grains and grapes. Pasilla chiles, purple wheat, and pilsner malt get distilled into a spicy, smoky clear liquor with hints of pineapple and scotch. Distilled kombucha made from marigold flowers has an astringent tannic quality more often tasted in wine and tea. Rice-based whiskeys fermented with koji (the fungus used to make soy sauce) develop a savory, umami finish. Welcome to the mind-bending future of booze.
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Bottled in LaGrange, Georgia between 1762 and 1802, the bottle of Old Ingledew Whiskey includes a label that reads, "This Bourbon was probably made prior to 1865 and was in the cellars of Mr. John Pierpont Morgan from whose estate it was acquired upon his death.” Yes, that JP Morgan. Interestingly, the buyer wishes to remain anonymous, and the antique bourbon's destination is unknown.
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A new report from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis shows that US alcohol consumption went up 2% last year, the country's biggest increase since 2002. Online sales became a major force and is predicted to account for 7% of all off-premise alcohol purchases by 2024. Spirits had their best year since 1990, and whiskey was especially popular, so much that it's projected to nudge out vodka in overall sales volume by the end of 2022. Tequila and cognac also saw big gains of nearly 16% and 20% over the previous year. But the most popular category was ready-to-drink beverages, led by hard seltzer, which is poised to become the second-largest alcohol category in the US in terms of sales volume by the end of 2021. Beer remains the lead dog but continued its recent decline, finishing 2020 down about 3% in total sales. It seems Spuds Mackenzie is giving way to White Claw.
Image Source: Glen Scotia
A relatively unknown whisky from an obscure distillery in Campbeltown, Scotland was crowned "Best In Show" at this year's San Francisco World Spirits Competition, known as "the Oscars of Booze." Glen Scotia beat out more than 3,800 spirits entries, 269 of which were Scotch. The small distillery's 25-year-old single malt was matured exclusively in ex-bourbon oak barrels, giving it the usual vanilla and caramel notes along with aromas of fresh apple, apricot, dried orange zest, cinnamon, clove, ginger and a bit of smoke. That $500 price tag is too steep, you say? Give Glen Scotia's 15-year-old whisky a sip instead. It's less smooth but has a similar albeit more savory flavor profile in a reasonable $75 bottle.
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