Arby’s Now Has The Bourbon To Go With Its Meats – Forbes

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Arby’s Smoked Bourbon launch comes nearly a year after the chain introduced vodka inspired by its … [+] curly and crinkle fries. The vodka sold out in minutes.
A year ago, Arby’s launched a French fry-flavored vodka that sold out in literal minutes. Now, Arby’s is attempting to duplicate that success with bourbon.
The company today announced the launch of its Arby’s Smoked Bourbon, in partnership with Ohio-based craft distillery Brain Brew and inspired by the chain’s smoked brisket sandwich and limited-edition real country-style rib sandwich. It will be available exclusively at ArbysSmokedBourbon.com beginning at noon Oct. 19 for $60, plus tax.
This launch seems like a logical iteration of Arby’s nascent libations business, as bourbon tends to pair well with smoky or grilled meats and, in fact, its bourbon is smoked with the same woods used for its meat. The process includes American oak smoked in a patented process with hickory, mesquite and pecan smoke from Sadler’s Smokehouse in Texas. The smoked wood is then placed inside the bourbon where it is heated and cooled. This, the company notes, replicates seasonal temperature variations.
“After our successful vodka launch last year, we knew we wanted to release another unexpected liquor that our fans of legal drinking age can responsibly pair with our menu items,” Arby’s President Jim Taylor said in a statement. “Arby’s smoked meats are the cornerstone of our brand, so why not use our expertise to create a delicious smoked bourbon that complements the flavors and enhances the experience of enjoying our Smokehouse Sandwiches?”
Brain Brew was founded in 2016 and has since received double gold medal awards at the North American Bourbon & Whiskey competition. The company, located just east of Cincinnati, now produces and bottles over 1 million cases a year.
“We were thrilled to partner with Arby’s to craft Arby’s Smoked Bourbon,” Brain Brew CEO and co-founder Doug Hall said in a statement. “We take pride in the hours of research, detail and innovation that goes into creating custom bottles of bourbon for our collaboration partners as well as consumers and enjoyed recreating one of Arby’s signature flavor profiles using the same smoked woods that they use at Sadler’s Smokehouse.”
Arby’s has attributed its 10 years of same-store sales growth in large part to its menu innovation and relevant marketing. In addition to its Curly Fry and Crinkle Fry Vodkas, recent launches include its country-style rib sandwich, Diablo Dare sandwiches and its first-ever burger, made with American Wagyu beef.
Notably, Arby’s isn’t the only quick-service restaurant chain experimenting with alcohol sales. Hardee’s recently launched a Strawberry Biscuit Ale with fellow Nashville company Southern Grist Brewing Co., for example, while Dunkin’, Auntie Anne’s and White Castle have also introduced beers inspired by their signature menu items.
As evidenced by Arby’s (and Sonic, which last year launched a hard seltzer line), these quick-service/libations partnerships extend beyond beer. And, as evidenced by swift sellouts, the partnerships are resonating. Sonic’s Hard Seltzer, has expanded to 39 states, for instance, and has been named the “Official Hard Seltzer of the Big 12.” Sales have increased every month.
Such partnerships allow brands to create new (buzzy) news, extend beyond their brick-and-mortar restaurants and generate some urgency. To achieve that urgency in this instance, Arby’s forecasts its bourbon is “likely to sell out quickly” and said there will be a second drop.
Arby’s is leveraging its loyalty program for that second drop, offering consumers who sign up to become a member before Oct. 19, 11:59 p.m. early insight into when there will be a second chance to purchase the bourbon. It is also offering a cocktail smoker with woodchips shaped like Arby’s signature brown hat for $50 plus tax. The smoker adds even more smokiness to the bourbon.
Arby’s Smoked Bourbon is available in California, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New York and Washington, DC.

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