The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2015

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Page 71 of 140

april 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  71 I n recent years, the market has been practically yelping for flavored whiskey at Pavlov-salivation levels—a call that Bird Dog Whiskey answered promptly with its popular line of flavors, including Maple, Peach and Blackberry. Now, with two more flavors—Apple and Chocolate—making their way on stage for the show, Bird Dog not only will hunt, but will lead a crowded and competitive pack in a frenzied market, wooing consumers who had once had been, say, flavored-vodka drinkers and bringing in new consumers to the whiskey category. "Our flavor rollouts are indicative as to how the market is performing with our other flavors," says Jon Holecz, VP of Marketing for Western Spirits, which markets the brand. "For these two flavors, we have been working on them for some time. Bird Dog Peach and Blackberry took a large leap forward in 2014, and set themselves apart. The Bird Dog Apple is positioned to flourish with a lush apple flavor and a finish with cinnamon zest. Bird Dog Chocolate has a sweet chocolate nose, and the finish is milky smoothness." For bartenders and bar managers, the Bird Dog Apple and Bird Dog Chocolate have provided an opportunity to expand their creativity with two very different styles. Sam Stone, co-owner of Fizz Bar & Grill in Chicago, had been doing riffs on a Manhattan, and the Bird Dog Chocolate presented an opportunity for him to create a Chocolate Manhattan. Meanwhile, Tracy Genson-Gallup, General Manager of Tailgaters in Frisco, Texas, is particularly enthusiastic about Bird Dog Apple. Although it's a flavor awash in other products, Genson-Gallup insists its smoothness of flavor and favorable price point place it far ahead of competitors. "When I found out that Bird Dog would be producing an apple-flavored whiskey, I was really happy to support them, because of all the support they provide for me," Stone explains. "They really go above and beyond. Our rep, T. J. Nichols, always does staff train- ings, and is always there for me." Being a strong, account-supporting partner is central to the overall culture of Bird Dog. And, this makes both on- and off-premise accounts see the brand as one that its custom- ers, in turn, tend to root for in the big show. "In the on-premise, we invest in tastings and promotions, and in the fall, we run bar sampling programs throughout fifty major markets," Holecz says. "In the off-premise, we are investing in display activities to enhance shelf awareness, and focus on tastings to drive consumer trial and purchase." Accounts are in agreement that this plan helps bring in new customers—good for the brand and bar alike: "Bird Dog is very hands-on and willing to get promo products for our guests," Genson-Gallup adds. "There are many nights that our rep stops by and will buy drinks for anyone who wants to try Bird Dog." As the summer season approaches, the Bird Dog Apple has a chance to shine. It's 80 proof (like all the Bird Dog Flavored Whiskeys), so it has minimal alcohol burn, and can be a highlight of chilled mixes, or popular as a straight shot. "Based on tasting out our customers the last two weeks, the Apple Bird Dog is going to be outstanding, especially as it gets warm," Stone predicts. Fizz Bar & Grill is about to unveil Stone's creation on its drink list: an "Apple-Razz Lemon Shake Up," using two ounces of Bird Dog Apple, one muddled raspberry, the juice of a fresh half lemon and soda water—then shaken and garnished with two raspberries and half a lemon. "I believe Bird Dog is very innovative, and hope they continue to become a more recog- nized name in the flavored liquor category," Genson-Gallup says. "I was once a flavored vodka drinker, but my go-to drink right now is Bird Dog Blackberry. It's a fun brand, and all the people I have met from Bird Dog embody that fun." Apple-Razz Shake Up by Fizz Bar & Grill in Chicago, IL ◗ 2 oz. Bird Dog Apple ◗ 1 raspberry, muddled ◗ 1 half lemon, squeezed ◗ Top with soda water, shake and garnish with two raspber- ries and half a lemon. Chocolate Martini by Tailgaters in Frisco, TX ◗ 2 oz. Bird Dog Chocolate Whiskey ◗ 1 oz. dark crème de cacao The ladies of Tailgaters, located in Frisco, TX, (left to right): Brittany Cordes, Tracy Genson-Gallup, Kara Sicking (sitting bar left), Ashley Barnett (sitting bar right), Demirah Sockwell, Tinkie Manning (standing in front) and Jessica Holland. PHOTO: JASON KINDIG PHOTO: JASON KINDIG

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