On The Whisk(e)y Front

Michael Collins Returns: Irish whisky sales are up 15% in the United States in the past year, so it's no wonder American distributor Sidney Frank Importing is trying to get a piece of the pot. SFI has signed a contract with Cooley Distillery, Ireland's only independent whisky maker, to supply it with a liquor branded with the name of Irish patriot Michael Collins, right. The Times of London quoted SFI chief executive Lee Einsidler as saying he expects Cooley to supply 50,000 cases of whisky in the first year of their deal. “We eventually hope to bring the brand worldwide,” said Einsidler, who also revealed that there will be two types of whisky -- an original blend and a single malt, both aimed at the ultra premium end of the market. SFI has trademarked the Michael Collins name with a percentage of sales to be paid to Collins' descendants who will donate to various charities.

Beam's Mark? Where once they were rivals, Jim Beam and Maker's Mark soon will be part of the same team. Fortune Brands, which owns Jim Beam Brands, is in the process of buying up Maker's Mark as the spirits industry continues undergoing a contraction in terms of how many different companies exist. The Federal Trade Commission already has cleared the path for Fortune Brands to acquire Maker's Mark from French drinks company Pernod Ricard. Fortune, which has been on a buying spree, is acquiring or has acquired Maker's and more than 20 other spirits and wine brands for about $5 billion. Jim Beam, by the way, continues to be the largest selling bourbon in the world.

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