Sugar Skull Rum Launches – National Rum Day 2014

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We launched Sugar Skull Rum just in time for National Rum Day (August 16) in AZ and NV. I am very excited by the incredible opportunity to lead this great brand and company from inception to game changer in the industry. I have received so many congratulations from so many friends and associates in and outside the industry. I am very appreciative for the well wishes and thought I’d share a bit of the back story on the brand and why we believe it is a true game changer. What do we mean when we talk about “Celebrating Life”?

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Back Story:

Sugar Skull Rum Company was founded by a group of serial entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers who dared to ask the question: “If not us, then who?” and “If not now, when?” in a business dominated by international conglomerates and multi-generational family businesses. The liquor giants, both the manufacturers and distributors have all the advantages that come with scale and entrenched interests; money, power, regulations and people drive this advantage (you know you who are friends). So what makes the Sugar Skull team think we can play in the big leagues without any of these advantages?

As a co-Founder and CEO, my view is, “Ideas matter. When the time is right, if one can put the right people together, they can accomplish anything with the right idea.   Sugar Skull Rum is that right idea at the right time.”

A while back, a bunch of my friends were sitting around sipping various cocktails, enjoying fine cigars and most of all each other’s company. The conversation spanned technology, politics, exotic travel, past loves lost, and family. As the evening went on, memories were created among friends from different worlds while discussing those people who came before us and meant a lot to who each of us are today, but are no longer with us. One of the group pointed out that those lost people, who we celebrate, are really with us always.

“You know, that is really what “El Día de los Meurtos” “The Day of the Dead” is all about. You see, for thousands of years many people have celebrated their loved ones in different ways. With the “Day of the Dead” you have convergence of European Catholic traditions with the ancient Aztec traditions. It really is all about celebrating those who have left this world but mean so much to the people they touched.”

As the night wore on, the discussion led to how each of us celebrated the lives of our loved ones lost. The idea of a “celebration” among the living, in honor of those that came before and have left us, resonated throughout the group. In thinking about the beautiful tributes put together all over, we all agreed the iconic Sugar Skulls really bring to life the feelings of honoring those gone.

One of us pointed out, “you know, what sugar is made from don’t you?… sugar cane.   That is exactly what is in this drink”… he held up his sipping rum to the firelight… “a toast… to our loved ones lost, let us celebrate what they mean to us and let us live each day fully” Our group toasted…. here here… here here…   It was a magical night and I know it touched me deeply.

From that night on, the idea would not leave any of us. We soon decided, a beverage that brought together the ideas of that evening, celebrating life today and those who have past, would bring a piece of the magic feeling everyone had that night. These friends had experience in consumer products, the beverage industry, motor racing and hospitality. Some were very successfully in the ice cream business and had made their names in creative flavors. After almost two years of scouring the world for the best rums and many many nights and days of hard work (J) in judging these amazingly diverse products, a new brand was born. Sugar Skull Rum.

Founded on the principle that life should be celebrated and it is at its best when we celebrate those who where impactful in our lives. Sugar Skull Rum is a meticulously crafted super premium rum brand that looks at the world a little bit differently.   The Company takes the approach of a lean start-up by working smart and playing hard we are bringing a new brand into a tough competitive market by thinking differently. Sugar Skull Rum while a young company is deploying breakthrough marketing to reach consumers in memorable ways. The team is highly motivated to bring our message and brand to thirsty consumers everyone who like us, want the best in life and are willing to take the road less traveled.

Join us in making the Rum Revolution a reality.

Join The Rum Revolution

About Sugar Skull Rum Company:

Sugar Skull is a celebration of life. It is the life we live, the lives we touch and those that have touched us. We celebrate them all. Live. Love. Celebrate. How do you celebrate?

Created by leaders in the ice cream, beverage, sports, entertainment and hospitality industries, Sugar Skull Rum Company makes a meticulously crafted super premium rum blend that looks at the world a little bit differently. Sugar Skull is made from with the very best sugar cane molasses carefully sourced from growers’ farms throughout the Caribbean and South America. Sugar Skull Rum is carefully handcrafted in the beautiful Caribbean islands at our partner distilleries. We use 4-column stills to produce a clean and crisp base rum before filtering and blending to our proprietary recipe to produce Sugar Skull’s unique taste profile. Welcome to the best tasting Rum in the world.

Sugar Skull Rum is being launched in select markets in 2014. Look for our Tribal Silver, Mystic Vanilla, Native Coconut, Madagascar Wild Berry and Hellfire Cinnamon at select accounts in AZ, CA and NV.

WineTwits to Lead #Wine Tweetup at #WITS2014 the 10th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium

Excited for #WITS2014 and BITS in 18 days… This wine tasting tweetup has become a highlight of the social aspects of WITS… here is winemaker Alison Crowe at one..

 

 

 

I hope to see as many of you at this year’s event as can join.  Reach out to me if you have any questions.

Smoke

WITS cover impage

WineTwits to Lead #Wine Tweetup at #WITS2014 the 10th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium

Tweetup wineries include: Franciscan Estate Winery, Garnet Vineyards, Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, Kendall-Jackson Winery, Wente Vineyards.

(NAPA, Calif.) – The 10th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) has partnered with Taste140 to again host a worldwide virtual wine tasting event June 30 – July 1, 2014 at the WITS event, which this year also includes a new concurrent Beer Industry Technology Symposium (BITS).

While it is anticipated that conference attendees will naturally be active across various Social Media platforms using the #WITS2014 hashtag over the course of the two-day conference, organized and focused online wine tastings have also been scheduled with participating wineries including: Franciscan Estate Winery (Franciscan Estate 2011 Magnificat Napa Valley), Garnet Vineyards (Garnet 2012 Monterey Pinot Noir), Jamieson Ranch Vineyards (Jamieson Ranch 2011 “Double Lariat” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon), Kendall-Jackson Winery (Kendall-Jackson 2011 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon), Renwood Winery (Renwood 2011 Premier Old Vine Zinfandel) and Wente Vineyards (Wente 2012 Morning Fog Chardonnay).

In advance of the #WITS2014 WineTwits Tweetup, Taste140 is shipping wines from each participating winery to online wine influencers and bloggers who have committed to live participation. The wines will also be available for tasting at the event, so that event attendees can contribute to the conversation and post their tasting notes, experience and feedback.

“Having attended WITS since its inception in 2005, I’ve gained valuable insights directly from wine industry thought leaders while forging immeasurable relationships which have continued to grow over the years,” said Stephen Gilberg, Taste140 and WineTwits founder. “Similarly, beverage brands that properly leverage social media are able to build long-lasting relationships with influential consumers. The #WITS2014 Wine Tweetup will likely be one of the most wide-reaching virtual tastings to date.”

“We are pleased to partner with these fantastic wineries and with WineTwits to bring some of the #WITS2014 experience beyond the conference in Napa and to bloggers and consumers around the country. This online event demonstrates the power of a connected wine community and has become a fun highlight of the event each year,” said J. Smoke Wallin, WITS founder and co-chair.

The 2014 Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS), which will run concurrent with the first Beer Industry Technology Symposium, will cover a wide range of wine and craft beer industry topics such as mobile e-commerce, data breach and security, breakthrough marketing, supply chain innovation, leading edge hospitality systems, new on-premise kegs and product tracking. Panels of leading restaurant and grocery operators will also provide valuable insight as they discuss their first-hand experience with wine and beer consumers.

Registration is now open at www.wineindustrytechnologysymposium.com.

 

wits logo

About WITS: The Wine Industry Technology Symposium® (WITS) is the focal point for thought leadership in the strategic and tactical use of technology in the global wine industry. WITS was created in 2005 by a group of wine industry and technology professionals to advance innovation and to address the unique information technology and services needs of the wine industry. The 10th annual WITS is June 30 & July 1 in Napa, CA. This year, the newly formed Beer Industry Technology Symposium (BITS) will be held in conjunction with WITS. To learn more, join WITS on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

About DrinkTwits, LLC (Taste140/WineTwits): Founded in 2008, DrinkTwits is a social media firm comprised of interactive food and beverage-related social media channels. Its flagship entity, @WineTwits is a Twitter-powered community with 100,000 followers dedicated to wine consumers, retailers, vineyards and experts. In 2009, through its network of leading social influencers, the firm pioneered the practice of online virtual tasting via its Taste 140™ social tasting platform, which allows brands to virtually pack their tasting room with hundreds of people and have their recommendations instantly reach thousands worldwide. For more information, visit www.Taste140.com or www.twitter.com/winetwits.

For more information about the Wine Industry Technology Symposium, contact Kathy Archer of the Wine Industry Symposium Group at 707-261-8719 or kathy@winesymposium.com. For sponsorship and registration, contact Waunice Orchid of the Wine Industry Symposium Group at 707-261-8716 or waunice@winesymposium.com.

 

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Craft Beer Sales Boom Continues… Best Is Yet To Come.

This weeks release of the full 2013 numbers on craft beer by the Craft Brewers Association confirms something many of us already knew: this movement is accelerating.  I’d go a step further and say the best is yet to come.  Here is the info-graphic the CBA published this week:

Craft Breweries 2013 Growth-Small_HR

Pretty incredible numbers – going from 4.4% volume share in 2009 to 7.8% in 2013.  On a dollar basis, even more impressive with a 20% increase over 2012 to $14.3 billion, giving craft beer a 14.3% share of the $100 billion US beer market.  The number of breweries grew at a slightly slower pace (15%), giving slightly more sales per brewery.

This is a booming market and with that there are multiple new entrants and there will be inevitably, winners and losers.  That said, a growing market makes up for a lot of mistakes and there are a lot more winners right now than not.  The key is matching investment to real potential in any particular INDIVIDUAL business.   A growing market is good for everyone, but it does an individual aspiring brewery little good if they spend too much on their building, don’t brew great beer that people enjoy, don’t create a brand that resonates with consumers and market place, take too long to get up and running, hire the wrong time, don’t know what their numbers are or what the right things to measure are, run out of money, etc.  I could continue, but there are a ton of ways to be unsuccessful in this space, no matter what the growth is.

That is why I got together with a number of industry thought leaders to create the Beer Industry Technology Symposium (BITS) being held in Napa, CA June 30 & July 1 in conjunction with the Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS)

BITS logo small for web3                  wits logo

Yes, technology is in the name and there will be a bunch of things at the 2 day event that revolve around technology, but that is NOT the main point.  The main point is what I am talking about above.  There are so many challenges with running any new business and craft beer is no different.  With all the new players and the many existing players who are experience growth beyond their wildest expectations, these businesses need sound strategic thinking around what matters.   Technology is not “What Matters”, but it is the great enabler that in 2014, done right, can create the conditions for a successful business venture.  Thinking through the myriad of options and what exactly one is trying to do is critical before you even start your brewery.  If you already have one, and skipped this part of the planning, it is never to early to get on it and address these issues.

I really enjoyed the new Siemens commercial (that seems to be running on TV on every show I watch – which is not very many) profiling the Schlafly Brewery and American manufacturing. Here it is:

 

What a terrific message and a boost to the craft brewing industry at the same time.  I reached out to the Siemens team and they jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the first BITS.  How cool!    This is also true of the California Craft Brewers Association who joined us recently as a GOLD sponsor and are marketing the BITS event to their 200+ members in CA.

CCBA_colorlogo jpeg

 

BITS will be announcing these and many other great contributors in the form of keynote speakers and panels who are lining up to be a part of what we hope will become a must attend event for everyone in the industry who wants to be smart about running their business.  Please reach out to me directly if you’d like to get involved.  Registration will open up in mid April.

The craft brewing industry is in its preteen days… there is much growth in front of us and a lot of learning and growing up.  This is an opportunity for collaboration with fellow breweries and professionals and leading edge thinkers in technology on how to grow up and be successful in your beer business.  The best is yet to come!

Cheers!  jsw at NSB pub

 

New Beer Industry Technology Symposium™ “BITS™” Set For June 30 & July 1 in Napa, California

Excited to announce the first Beer Industry Technology Symposium in collaboration with our 10th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium… it will be a technology extravaganza!

New Beer Industry Technology Symposium™ “BITS™”
Set For June 30 & July 1 in Napa, California

Craft Brewing Industry Leaders to Collaborate on Best Practices and Strategies
BITS to partner with the 10th Annual Wine Industry Technology Symposium® “WITS®” for First Event

For Immediate Release
February 20, 2014

(NAPA, Calif.) – Leaders of the brewing, distribution and technology industries have formed the new Beer Industry Technology Symposium, BITS, to create a dedicated industry forum where technology and strategy intersect. The first BITS will be held in Napa, California in conjunction with the Wine Industry Technology Symposium® – WITS® June 30 & July 1, 2014 at the Napa Valley Marriott.

The purpose of BITS is to address the unique information technology, and service needs, of the beer industry. BITS is dedicated to bringing the world’s leading beer industry professionals together with the world’s leading technology experts, to foster learning and discussion. Panels of experts will discuss specific examples and case studies that will deliver tangible take-home value and create relationships.

SteadyServ Technologies®, has built technology to help bars and restaurants, distributors and craft brewers — even patrons — keep track of the beer remaining in a keg and more effectively manage their beer inventories. SteadyServ’s Founder and CEO Steve Hershberger said, “Given the massive changes occurring in the beer industry, BITS is the right gathering at the right time. Getting the craft beer industry together, to discuss technology solutions and the strategies needed to ensure continued growth and success, is difficult due to both the high number of beer producers and the vast geographic differences in their physical locations. BITS will provide an important venue for the industry’s thought leaders to collaborate for the greater good of the industry. SteadyServ will be there in full force.”

The growth and importance of craft beer is widely documented. According to the Brewers Association, the number of craft breweries in the US has risen from a low of > 100 1977 to > 3,500 in 2013. Over the next 5 years, the growth in craft beer volume is expected to be greater than over the past 25 years combined. Given this explosion in consumer demand, and the number of new operations that have been formed, there is a specific need to understand best practices and strategies within the industry. Many new brewery owners are attempting to reinvent the wheel in terms of processes and systems to run their businesses. BITS aims to be the industry-wide resource to help educate beer industry members and unite them with best-of-class technology providers.

“After owning a rapidly-growing craft brewery from 2010 – 2013, and then working with a number of others to help build their beer businesses, I spent a lot of time networking with other breweries and observed their efforts to manage growth and establish systems that are vital to run an efficient and effective business,” said J. Smoke Wallin, BITS Chairman and Founder. “While there are many beer industry events such as NBWA and GABF, there has never been a forum focused on the technology needs of craft brew operators. BITS will fill that void.”

Expected attendees include craft breweries, distributors, retailers and on-premise and technology providers. There will be content for everyone from the Owner/GM/President to the Information Technology Manager or CFO to the Brewers to the Sales Managers. Building on the successful model of WITS, with cross-functional workshops and keynote speakers, BITS will draw from industry leaders to present tangible take-home value as a result of a focused gathering.

The agenda includes sessions on: Technology Leadership – Best-of-Class Tools, Consumer Direct Sales – Managing the Tap Room and Online Presence, Trade Sales & Marketing – Craft Beer Route To Market – Gaining & Managing Distribution, Brewery Operations – Hops to Kettle to Keg or Can

Interested sponsors and speakers can contact Waunice Orchid (Tradeshow Coordinator) Waunice@swgnapa.com (707) 261-8716 today. Registration will open March 1, 2014. Space is limited and BITS is expected to sell out, so register early.
www.beertechnologysymposium.com

ABOUT BITS:
The Beer Industry Technology Symposium (BITS) was created to address the unique information technology and services needs of the Beer industry. BITS is dedicated to bringing the world’s leading breweries, distributors and retailers together with the leading technology experts to foster learning and discussion. Expert panels and keynotes discuss leading edge case studies involving consumer direct marketing and sales, operations, financial management, trade sales and distribution, brewing and input management

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