The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2013

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Page 82 of 148

YEAR OF THE Artisan Brand Small Batch O O H H C THE ARTISANAL GROUP'S SIDESHOW PUTS CRAFT SPIRITS CENTER STAGE FOR TODAY'S COCKTAILIANS by Meridith May / photos by John Curley A major movement in the distribution world has taken shape in California for craft spirits. Southern Wine & Spirits had the vision to breathe life into a new sales division to meet the emerging demand in the marketplace for authentic craft and small batch spirits. The brainchild of Jack Brennan, Executive Vice President & General Manager of SWS of California, The Artisanal Group was born out of a sense of responsibility to spotlight small producers—those whose brands lack advocates in the market, go unnoticed without proper distributor representation or do not have the personnel and/or marketing tools needed to seek out enough adventurous spirits accounts to become established in the mixology community. "Our work has just begun," says Steve Mabry, VP of the Artisanal Group/ Northern California, whose team created the company's first "Sideshow" in March at San Francisco's Old Mint, featuring the portfolio of passion-inspired craft brands. "This event represents the brands as they should be showcased. And we are bringing in a new breed of specialist who is already steeped in the spirits culture and mixology trade." Tim Hirota, VP of the Artisanal Group/Southern California, created his own craft spirits event at Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills to spotlight the portfolio (follow-up story to come in our June issue). "Ray Ewers, our Key Account Specialist in Southern California and Joel Teitelbaum in Northern California will be the guides who are equipped with the education and knowledge of the brands to assist their customers in everything from bar service and product selection to the development of profitable drinks programs," Hirota points out. THE TASTING PANEL was there to document and taste through a range of new-to-market and some familiar labels that are nevertheless boutique in market perception but outsized in passion. 82 / the tasting panel / may 2013

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