Thursday, January 29, 2009

From Hennessy's press release:

"In recognition of one of the most defining moments in American history, Hennessy is introducing a limited edition bottle honoring the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States. In honor of this momentous occasion and furthering Hennessy’s long standing commitment with the urban community, a percentage of proceeds from the Hennessy 44 Limited Edition bottle will be donated to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to help cultivate a new generation of leaders."

The Hennessy 44 Limited Edition bottle will feature a redesigned label, black capsule, and a special 44 seal featuring the date of the inauguration. Only 180,000 (750ml) uniquely numbered collector’s item bottles have been produced and will be available for sale in Washington DC, Maryland, Illinois, Metro New York, and Georgia from January 12th, 2009.

During the inauguration weekend Hennessy will join the celebrations at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund reception, the Radio One Inauguration Gala, the NNPA Gala, and the Hip Hop Summit Action Network Inaugural Ball. Celebrities will be invited to autograph commemorative bottles for a later auction to create additional funds for scholarships through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

The limited edition bottles will be individually numbered and will be line priced with Hennessy V.S. For more information on Hennessy V.S Limited Edition Inauguration Bottles and the Thurgood Marshall College fund, please visit or "

And here are my thoughts - great idea to tie in with the biggest story for a long time. It links to success and the urban community. Piggybacking is always an easy way to gain publicity.

It has undoubtedly been picked up and talked about very widely. Just google Hennessy 44 and you are flooded with hits.

But... the reaction hasn't been entirely positive.

Some comments on Jump the Turnstyle:

"Uggh- I can’t read the small copy, but it looks to be all worded in such a way where where Obama’s name is not mentioned specifically , therefore it doesn’t have to be licensed- big time crapitalism"

From New York Mag...

""Hennessy’s roots in the urban community"

When will companies just come out and say "the black [or African-American] community" instead of using "urban" as a code word?

Also, does a Digital Underground shout-out fifteen years ago really count as "roots"?"


"Disgusting stuff.

Dewars for the win."


"The idea that a smooth customer like BHO would ever drink Hennessy is beyond ridiculous. The only way I can imagine that happening is if for some strange reason Michelle left him and, crazed with grief, he drank everything else in the bar and Hennessy was all that was left. THEN, maybe. Otherwise, no."


"Obama needs to get some Laphroaig Quarter Cask or Lagavulin as his presidential drink of choice. If you can't smoke in the White House you might as well drink something that tastes like smoke."


"Obama strikes me as having subtle, complex tastes. No cloying, easy Hennessy for him. I suspect his brandy is Germain-Robin - and it's American, so it's patriotic to drink."


From One Plus Infinity:

"The president-elect isn’t much of a drinker, but if anything’s going to drive you to the liquor cabinet, it’s being the leader of the free world. He might want to find a different brand, though: North Korea’s Kim Jong Il is said to be a huge Hennessy fan."

It's interesting that they never mention Barrack Obama in the copy. The reference to 44 is far more subtle and no doubt avoids a few lawsuits and usage costs.

You can buy your very limited edition of 180,000 commemorative Hennessy 44 on ebay here.

Negativity and bitterness to one side... the idea has been well executed and has been talked about far and wide strengthening Hennessey, and by dint of them being category leader, cognac's, roots in the African American market.

Interesting story from a disgruntled travel writer called Christine Gilbert, on Almost Fearless...

"The recent Spirit of Exploration Contest held by Bombay Sapphire (the gin in the blue bottle) asked bloggers, like me, to write a single essay about, wait for it, The Spirit of Exploration. At first I thought this was a great idea and even sent it to some of my online contacts encouraging them to submit. But it occurred to me: this was a blog with no traffic, they wanted free content from bloggers, the bloggers would hopefully send their readers to the site and if you won (by getting the most positive votes, ie. you sent the most traffic), you get a jpg icon that says “Bombay Sapphire Winner” to post on your blog. You write, send them traffic and get nothing but a jpg I could have made in Photoshop.

Disappointed, I decided to write a snarky version about the Spirit of Exploration and submitted it as my form of protest. I began,

“The “spirit of exploration” is a carefully designed play on words intended to make you purchase high end liquor.”

I then proceeded to cram the essay full of random observations about travel, listing as many countries as I could and generally being a wise ass. They posted it. Clearly they weren’t even reading these things. If you’re curious, you can read the full version here."

It's a great example of how decently brands should treat people but don't. Whoever was running the Bombay Sapphire blog really should have known better. Because this is quite embarrassing.

It also highlights the delicate way that blogger initiatives need to be executed. There's nothing worse as a blogger than to get some ill thought out, flaky approach from a brand your not really engaged with.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

From Wallpaper.

Remy Martin has commissioned Christophe Pillet to create "limited edition accessories [designed to] get cognoscenti everywhere reaching for their new glasses".

"His involvement is the first step in what Louis XIII sees as an ongoing collaboration with 'contemporary creative geniuses', so what better backdrop to the decadenet digestif than chef Mathias Dahlgren's dining room in Stockholm's Grand Hotel? Designed by ahead of the curve interiors expert Ilse Crawford, the Michelin-starred restaurant oozes elegance and modernity in equal measure, and, for Louis XIII, includes pieces from Wallpaper's pick of rising stars - Italian Martino Gamper, who recently reworked furniture originally designed by Gion Ponti, quirky Dutch designers Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk, who both graduated from the star proidcing Eindhoven Design Academy and Brit Franbk Flavell whose wing backed chair won him first prize in a desingn competition hosted by British manufacturer Ercol. Proof if any were needed that our next generation of design genius is as strong as ever"

A little bit of searching uncovered previous work between Christophe Pillet and Remy on Coolhunting.

It's a very natural thing to do and is a brilliant way of building a luxury world. On a more commercial note, it allows Remy to place designer POS in the world's best bars and hotels which is notoriously hard to do. On top of this is generates talkability in the design world and is good PR.

Champagne taste. Champagne money.

Brilliant post from Flavorwire about the trend for edible cocktails as an offshoot/cross over of molecular gastronomy (sorry Herve) and experimental bartending. It's a fascinating world and reminds me of the sensational gin fizz I had at El Bulli.

Image from Khymos

"A few years ago, I knew a pair of girls who swore by eating a bowl of rice before a night out. They claimed that the carbs slowed down the effects of the drinks later on. [Editor's note: Or, if your name is Ripsy, preventing such wacky hijinks as drunk yoga.] It’s a nice thought that may hold a grain of truth — like the recent discovery that 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day prevents dementia — but their plan seems a little backwards. Why not just find a drink that slows you down? (I recommend the cautionary harshness of an Angler’s Cocktail: four parts gin, three dashes of Angostura bitters, three of orange bitters, and three of grenadine, shaken and poured over ice.)

Or better yet, why not kill two birds with one stone and just eat your cocktails?

For the gourmets, the field of molecular gastronomy has given us new approaches to classic drinks. The well-publicized New York bar Tailor offers a variety of intriguing “solids.” Their Gin Fizz has the consistency of a sugary Peep (and was about the size of one) but their Rum and Coke tasted a bit like the watery bottom of a rail drink. And honestly, it’s unclear whether a drinker (eater?) can expect to feel any effects from these foodie morsels. As much as cocktail obsessives like to talk about channel knives and Pre-Prohibition recipes, we can’t forget why we came to a bar rather than an ice cream parlor.

So for us practical drinkers there are jello shots (think Body Shots, but with less Tara Reid). That’s right: just because you no longer have a fake ID doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a taste of spring break. And there’s no need to stick with Everclear now that you’re of age; try some more unusual variations. I’d recommend Tasting Table’s pumpkin pie shots. The weather’s still cold enough to eat pumpkin pie, and vodka never goes out of season. Your mom would be proud.

Image from Tasting Table

If you’re looking just for a snack to augment your drinking, then there are plenty of options other than beer nuts. Though the alcohol content is close to nil, I think the best are these gin and tonic cupcakes.

Image from Yum Sugar

They’re a great dessert, and they leave you with a nearly full bottle of gin, another of tonic, and slices of lime to keep you busy while you wait for them to bake. Now what could you make with those three?

Come to think of it, maybe you should have had that bowl of rice first…"

I guess a more traditional version of this would be a boozy trifle or a Christmas pudding swimming in brandy!

Monday, January 26, 2009

From Fun Fever:

"The De Vrouwe van Stavoren Hotel in the Netherlands salvaged four wine casks from Switzerland and converted them into rooms. Formerly filled with 14,500 liters of Beaujolais wine from the French chateau, each now holds a modest two-person room with standard amenities and even an attached bathroom and a sitting room.

The one thing that might bother you, if you’re not a wine enthusiast, is the smell of wine that the barrels still maintain. All in all the Barrel Hotel, in Stavoren, northern Netherlands, makes for a very pleasurable experience. General rates for a cask room are from 74-119 Euros a night with discounts of up to 75% off depending on season. If you go in the wintertime, a wine cask room can be as low as 18 Euros a night, cheaper than most hostels."

Reminds me of the park in Germany where you could spend the night in a luxury sewer hotel. Weird. But fun. Could be a great way of developing a tourist angle at our distilleries.

Beautiful martini glass concept. Witty. Stylish. Something you want to talk about.

I found it on NotCot, but it's originally from Greece is for Lovers where you can buy them.

Would't it be great to commission some innovative glassware for one of our brands. The possibilities are so interesting. Historically this is something that Bombay Sapphire have excelled at.


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