Maine’s best-selling liquor, Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy, will soon have increased competition from Mr. Boston Coffee Brandy, which will be touting its Maine ties with coffee beans roasted in Portland and distillery operations in Lewiston.
Sazerac Co., a New Orleans-based liquor distiller, will complete its acquisition of the former Beam Inc. bottling plant in Lewiston in April and begin operations. Its flagship product is Mr. Boston Coffee Brandy. Sazerac has hired back about 60 employees, roughly half of the plant’s former workers.
The former Beam plant will be renamed Boston Brands of Maine. Brands to be transferred from other Sazerac facilities for bottling and sale in Maine include Canadian LTD, Fleischmann’s Vodka and Fleischmann’s Blended Whiskey, Crown Russe Vodka and Barton Vodka. The bottles will be marked with “Maine Made” stickers.
Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy is perennially the state’s top-selling liquor, but is more expensive than its less popular rival, Mr. Boston. Data from 2011, the most recent year reported on Maine’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations website, shows that four sizes of Allen’s ranked among the Top 10 most popular liquors sold in Maine. The 1.75-liter size of Mr. Boston ranked No. 19.
The current price in the state for a 1.75-liter bottle of Allen’s is $19.99, while Mr. Boston sells for $11.99, according to the bureau.
Mr. Boston will be available in a new 60-proof formula using coffee beans roasted in Portland, Sazerac said. It will come in sizes ranging from 50-milliliter bottles to 1.75-liter bottles.
“For the past several years, Mr. Boston Coffee Brandy has been one of the fastest-growing brands in the state of Maine, and as we all know, Mainers love their coffee brandy,” the company said in a written statement.
M.S. Walker, the Massachusetts-based maker of Allen’s, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Sazerac also is considering building a micro-distillery in the Lewiston plant within the next three years to develop “some new and uniquely Maine spirits.” The company said it was too soon to say whether those specialty brands would be distributed only in Maine or in other states as well.
Sazerac, which has operations in five other states and Canada, said in October that it had agreed to buy the Beam bottling plant for an undisclosed price. The sale included the building, land and equipment.
At the time, the plant had 120 workers. Beam had said it expected all the workers to be hired by the new owners. Sazerac said Tuesday that it has brought back about 60 workers, and it expects the number to increase as production ramps up. The company said it could not predict how many workers it ultimately will need.
“We’re pleased that we were able to save this plant from ceasing to exist and offer jobs to so many of the people of Lewiston,” said Mark Brown, the distiller’s president and chief executive officer. “We look forward to having the opportunity to produce these brands in Maine for Mainers, especially Mr. Boston Coffee Brandy, for many years to come.”
Sazerac also will retain the facility’s truck fleet, which will display the “Boston Brands of Maine” logo.
“We’re very pleased that Sazerac has come in and hired some people,” said Ed Barrett, Lewiston’s city administrator. “We hope they can expand and hire more workers in the future.”
The family-owned business received no incentives from the city of Lewiston and made no promises about staffing levels, Barrett said.
Sazerac’s legacy stems from a notable cocktail first created in New Orleans in 1838, combining brandy, absinthe and bitters. In 2008, Louisiana legislators voted to make the drink New Orleans’ official cocktail.
Jessica Hall may be contacted at 791-6316 or at: