Bourbon Industry Loses One of the Greats

FILED SEPTEMBER 11, 2013

Dear Client:

It is with a heavy heart we report that the very distinguished master distiller Lincoln Henderson has passed away at the age of 75. He is survived by his wife, two children and ten grandchildren.

"I lost my Dad and best friend today, but I am blessed and grateful that together we created a brand that we're both incredibly proud of," says Wes Henderson, coo of Angel's Envy. "Dad is with the angels now, but we will proudly carry on his legacy and keep his memory alive."

Lincoln began the serious study of bourbon as an undergrad in Oklahoma, ultimately graduating with a BS in Chemistry from the University of Louisville and an MBA from Webster University. Lincoln got a job as a chemist for Brown-Forman in 1965. He liked it so much he stayed the next 39 years. Over time he rose through the ranks to become the master distiller for B-F and oversaw the development of Woodford Reserve, Gentleman Jack and Jack Daniel's Single Barrel. "I never regretted a day when I had to go to work," he once said.

"Lincoln was a titan of the Kentucky bourbon industry, having tasted more than 430,000 barrels of Brown-Forman's bourbons to determine when the whiskey was ready to be bottled. He also traveled the world extensively promoting bourbon by conducting tastings and seminars," said B-F in a statement.

Lincoln retired from B-F in 2004 and began working for Suntory International as the US spokesperson for their Japanese Whisky. But it wasn't long though before his son Wes lured his father out of retirement to start their own brand, Angel's Envy. "I wanted to see dad get into an expressive environment, and for us to do this on a scale where if we figure out that we could ferment sweat socks tomorrow and come up with a wonderful distillate, then by God we can do it," Wes told the Courier-Journal.

Besides having a loyal following, Lincoln was recognized for his work as an inaugural member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame and with a judge's seat at the UK International Wine and Spirits Competition. "The Kentucky Distillers' Association and its members are deeply saddened at Mr. Henderson's passing and offer our heartfelt condolences to his family. His knowledge, experience, devotion and innovation and will be missed," says the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

"Beyond all this, Lincoln was a true gentleman who was great to work with - and to share a drink with. He will be missed by all of us at Brown-Forman and by his many friends throughout the bourbon industry," says B-F.

WILD TURKEY COMPLETES $43 MILLION PACKAGING FACILITY

Wild Turkey Distillery celebrated the opening of its new 145,000-square-foot packaging facility in Kentucky yesterday. The facility will initially produce up to four million cases annually with room for expansion.

The facility gives Campari the ownership of the full production process of its Wild Turkey brands - from distilling to aging to bottling - all in one location. The new facility immediately addresses the growth of Wild Turkey, Wild Turkey American Honey, Wild Turkey Spiced, Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, Russell's Reserve, Rare Breed Bourbon, and Skyy Vodka domestically and around the globe, says the company.

"After a seven-year absence, we are pleased to bring packaging capabilities back to the Wild Turkey Distillery for two of Gruppo Campari's biggest and fastest growing brands," says Bob Kunze-Concewitz, Gruppo Campari chief. Bob is referring to the fact that Pernod Ricard, who sold the brand to Campari in 2009, had Wild Turkey packaging capabilities, but they discontinued them.

You may recall the $43 million facility is a just a part of Campari America's aggressive push to grow the brand in the long term (see WSD 04-10-2012). In 2011 the company began a $50 million expansions at the distillery that more than doubled the plant's production capabilities. They've also opened multiple barrel warehouses over the years and in 2014 Wild Turkey will get a new visitors center.

FRESH & EASY GETS ANOTHER CHANCE UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP

You may recall UK-based Tesco's US grocery chain Fresh & Easy chain did not have a successful run at the US market. Fresh & Easy is estimated to have cost Tesco about $1.5 billion in capital and as a result was put up for sale earlier this year. Investment firm The Yucaipa Cos is now purchasing the chain from Tesco, reports CSNews.

Tesco operates nearly 200 stores in California, Nevada and and Arizona. Yucaipa plans to retool the operation as a "next-generation convenience retail experience," according to Ron Burkle, managing partner at Yucaipa.

Some disagree with the purchase. "Yucaipa is a very savvy firm. However, I'm not sure what they see in the Fresh & Easy stores," says Jeremy Diamond, director of The Diamond Group, a retail consultancy in Baltimore. "Fresh & Easy was a money-losing enterprise from the beginning as Tesco entered one of the most competitive supermarket regions in the U.S. Its biggest asset is the real estate for the Fresh & Easy locations, as well as the distribution and manufacturing facilities."

While others believe the success of F&E depends on how much money they're willing to spend. "If I were them, I'd change the stores to a limited-assortment, hard-discount model similar to Aldi and Save-A-Lot. This business model can be extremely profitable and there is nothing like it today operating in those markets," Bishop explained. "Even if only four out of five stores converted successfully, it would be a homerun financially."

WSD BRIEFS:

JAGERMEISTER, THE BRAND BUILT AROUND THE SHOT OCCASION, has introduced a new innovation called The Shotmeister. The Shotmeister is a single bottle (750 ml or 1L) tap machine aiming to capitalize on in home consumption. The new product isn't too dissimilar from the on-premise Tap machine we're all familiar with, but it's smaller and lighter.

HEAVEN HILL HAS PROMOTED Rachel Machkowky to the position of Northeast Area Manager. In her new position, Rachel will be responsible for the execution of Heaven Hill brand strategies in partnership with the wholesalers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. She has been with Heaven Hill since 2007 and formerly held the title of Boston on-premise area manager. Rachel will continue to report to Northeast regional manager Charles Yarman.

DARE WE SAY HOPE FAMILY WINES is on the verge of really blowing up. The Paso-Robles winemakers are taking their best-selling brand, Troublemaker, on a road trip across the Western US this fall. Troublemaker has grown from 4,000 cases in 2011 to 30,000 cases in 2013 to continue building on-premise and relationships, as well as create some digital buzz around the brand.

Until tomorrow, Emily

"I don't think women are better than men, I think men are a lot worse than women."
-- Louis C.K.

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