Monday, June 17, 2013

The Power of a Salacious Name and Well-Timed Heist

The internet is a content pig and, like the animal itself, not particular about what it eats. Its taste for news runs more to the now-defunct News of the World than CNN. To be blunt, most of what passes for news on the internet is garbage.

This past weekend, especially if you favor talk about whiskey, you heard about Chicken Cock Whiskey, probably for the first time. This is not Fighting Cock Bourbon, a fine Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey made by Heaven Hill. Chicken Cock is a brand new flavored whiskey product from serial distilled spirits entrepreneur Matti Antilla (Cabana Cachaca), whose business (Abb Partners, LLC) appears to be based in Florida although Chicken Cock has a Charleston, South Carolina address, perhaps because the University of South Carolina's sports mascot is the gamecock.

Chicken Cock comes in an aluminum bottle, in three flavors: Cinnamon, Southern Spiced, and Root Beer.

For readers who prefer whiskey-flavored whiskey, you might want to know that 'flavored whiskey' was a moribund classification until recently. Because whiskey is hot right now every trendy, new youth-oriented spirits product wants to be called 'whiskey.' According to the regs, 'flavored whiskey' is whiskey to which natural flavors have been added. Invariably, the whiskey part just barely meets the minimum requirements for use of that term.

Flavored whiskey can be bottled as low as 30% ABV (60° proof) but Chicken Cock is 43% ABV (86° proof).

On Friday, it was reported that on June 10, a truck carrying 10,000 bottles of Chicken Cock on their way to a Texas distributor was stolen from a truck stop in Florence. No reports of this robbery appeared in the media until after Antilla dropped his press release, publicizing the theft and offering a $10,000 reward for the return of his whiskey.

Most outlets just re-printed the press release or paraphrased it, questioning nothing. No one, for instance, seems to have looked at a map. Charleston to Florence is a funny way to get to Texas.

Some of our friends did good work. Davin de Kergommeaux explored the brand's legitimate history, which Antilla has been clever enough to appropriate. He researched the term 'chicken cock,' a regional synonym for 'rooster,' and also found a Canadian connection. Fred Minnick talked to Antilla and determined that, although Antilla's press release says the truck was coming from his Charleston "distillery," Chicken Cock is a non-distiller producer. Minnick also called the Florence County sheriff, but they haven't returned his calls.

Stories like this often disappear. What catches the content-hungry eye is the vaguely salacious name, the sensational crime, and the plea to the public for help. The resolution, when it comes, probably will only be reported if Antilla publicizes it. That is what the news business has become.

Realistically, the loss to Antilla is about $60,000, less whatever he can recover from insurance; or $10,000 if he gets the shipment back and pays the reward, but he got a million dollars worth of publicity. That, boys and girls, is how it's done.


Joe said...

I heard a news report this morning that briefly mentioned Terressentia Corp. as the origin of the spirits. I'd love to read your thoughts on them. Their scientific jargon makes Cleveland Whiskey's processing seem much less impressive (if that's possible). Nowhere can I find a published link between Chicken Cock and Terressentia, but that would destroy the narrative now wouldn't it.

Alex said...

It's ridiculous that the media has been reporting this as valued at over 1 million dollars based on the retail price of what drinkers are charged for a small shot at a restaurant or bar. That profit that goes to the restaurant or bar is irrelevant to the "value" of the whiskey stolen, but is just mark-up. The bar will get more Chicken Cock or sell something else to drinkers instead, and continue to make that profit.

I guess $100,000 of whiskey doesn't make as good of a story.

By the way, I heard this on the radio. Non-internet "news" isn't much better than internet "news".

Unknown said...

This HAS to be a supreme prank by the Delta Tau Chi frat at Uni of South Carolina.
Looks like double secret probation for them, and a PR coup for Terressentia Corp.

Anonymous said...

Richnimrod said,
PITIFUL! Not worth any ink to print... or even the electrons to do a radio broadcast, or publish this 'news' story on the truly questionable carrier of news of much verifiable value; the internet. It certainly isn't worth my time to read; or discuss it any further; so: here's hoping this story dies a mercifully quick death, and fades from sight soon.

Anonymous said...

This "story" only lives as long as you nit-wits continue to discuss it.

Unknown said...

The lines between PR and Marketing have been blurring so much in the new age. It's blurred in the schoolhouse too when I was studying each individually. Great read.

EllenJ said...

The "anonymous" responders have it right: "reality show"-style scavenger-hunt "breaking news" PR announcements aren't worth the bandwidth or newsprint they consume. But then, I never heard about this; I never heard of Chicken Cock Whiskey; I was blissfully unaware of the existance of Antilla or Terressentia. That is, until I read about it here on Chuck's blog. Thank you, Chuck, for helping to advertise this product; I will be looking for it in my local liquor store -- assuming enough demand has been created for them to actually bottle and ship some.

Chuck Cowdery said...

Using the same argument, then, publicizing secret government programs that trash privacy rights just encourages the government to be more secretive. Better we should just keep our mouths shut.

Anonymous said...

$10,000.00 reward seems small for whiskey claiming HUGE retail value.


Uncle Samuel collect FET when it left "distillery" ?

EllenJ said...

I think it's just a tad presumptuous to equate the two. Anyway, I don't think of this blog as an appropriate venue for national security and freedom of the press discussions (lord, we have enough of those just about everywhere else), even if you bring it up yourself. I certainly don't have any more to say on this.

Alex said...

This actually is the funniest story I've heard in a while. Thanks for posting the story, Chuck!

We in the south have a long history of having insurance fires to cap off the end of a failing business. This smells of the same, but of course i have no idea.

Wonder if the thieves will taste it and offer a reward to just come and pick it up?

Bas said...

Is this the same Company?

And what is it nowadays? do they still produce flavoured whiskey?
Found some article that it is canadian whisky.

Chuck Cowdery said...

It is the same brand. I have no idea if it is the same ownership.