Thursday, April 10, 2014

With a twist of Limoncello: Wine, spirits conventioneers talk marketing alcoholic beverages

Limoncello is known as an Italian yellow lemon liqueur. But Rochester, N.Y.-based LiDestri Spirits, in a quest to target more women and female events like bridal parties, decided to put a business twist on Limoncello.

LiDestri Spirits has come out with the first Limoncello that is pink in hopes of beefing up sales to women.

“We are female focused and pink is a female color,” LiDestri marketing manager Mary Rose DeMarco explained at this week’s Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America trade show at Caesars Palace.

LiDestri was among more than 300 nationwide wine and spirits supply, wholesale and distribution exhibitors at the annual trade show that ends Thursday afternoon. About 2,300 attendees engaged in heavy-duty networking as alcoholic beverage suppliers were looking to hook up with wholesalers who have the regional and national muscle to distribute their products to key markets.

While Kentuckey Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey sales drive distilled-spirits sales, the show also showcased many niche products such as LiDestri’s pink Limoncello as the industry continues to find new ways to sell and market alcoholic drinks.

And you never know where those products will come from.

Take Azerbaijan, for example.

Azerbaijan is known as a Muslim nation that produces oil and gas — but there are winemakers amid the oil workers.

A representative by the name of Elshan Baloghlanov from a company called Azpromo displayed the best wines and brandys produced in Azerbaijan.

Then, there’s the Bloomery SweetShine, a microdistillery from Charles Town, W.Va., where 190-proof corn liqueur is spiked with everything from raspberries to ginger to black walnuts. The drink is so potent that it’s sent to Virginia Tech to determine its actual alcohol content, said Zoe Donoghue-Rick, a bartender at the business with the slogan, “an artisanal blend of vice and virtue.”

“If you drink the 190-proof, you will be seeing flames for days,” Donoghue-Rick warned.

Bloomery SweetShine had its trade show workers dress in characters depicted on its various labels. Its 12-acre home base back in West Virginia includes a headquarters building with a unique history — a former log cabin slave quarters.

In seaching for demographic groups, the folks at Carrollton, Texas-based BuzzBallz were not being picky. The 6 1/2-ounce ready-to-drink mixed concoction includes enough alcohol for two shots, packing a 15 percent alcohol level.

The targeted BuzzBallz demo: “Obviously, anyone over 21,” observed Alex Kick, the company vice president. “It’s for people who want to get drunk and don’t want to pay a lot for it.”

While the plastic, ball-shaped BuzzBallz containers might look childlike, a more sophisticated look for liqueur bottles was showcased by Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. It imported from France an aqua-blue and violet-shaded liqueur named, “Hpnotiq,” spiked with flavors of passion fruit and mixed berries, said Lynn House, Heaven Hill brand ambassador.

Hpnotiq is marketed toward sophisticated, educated women, House said.

“She’s young. She’s hip. She’s single. She’s fun.”

And for those women who want a little more gold in their lives, Frenchman J.C. Rousseau has just the champagne for them.

His company, Mazeray Corp., specializes in mixing gold flakes into champagne. Rousseau said he created the business after working on gold decorations in palaces in Paris.

“You can see the gold flakes,” he said, “but you cannot feel them when you drink it.”

And in a world of many fruit-flavored vodkas, David Solomon is importing vodka from Mongolia for his brand, Golia Vodka. There’s not an iota of fruit flavoring and it’s even stripped of any gluton, said Solomon, Golia Vodka founder who created the DVD vending business Redbox.

“I fell in love with the vodka,” Solomon said while visiting a pal in Mongolia. “You don’t have to crap it up with fruit.”

Contact reporter Alan Snel at or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.

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