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Black cherry Jim Beam in production

March 9, 2009 at 12:05 PM

DEERFIELD, Ill., March 9 (UPI) -- A Fortune Brands Inc. spokeswoman says the U.S. company behind Jim Beam is set to release a black cherry version of the popular bourbon.

The unidentified spokeswoman said the new Red Stag product from the company in Deerfield, Ill., will be worthy of the Jim Beam name, Crain's Chicago Business said Monday.

"We have built a solid reputation over the years, and whiskey drinkers know that Jim Beam would never treat fine bourbon with anything but respect," she said.

But Euromonitor International PLC analyst Brian Morgan suggests adding black cherry flavor to the 214-year-old bourbon label is a questionable move on Fortune's part.

"It's going to be very tricky for them to walk the fine line needed to appeal to new people while not turning off existing customers who respect the Jim Beam brand," the Chicago analyst said of Red Stag, due for release in June. "It's definitely a gamble."

The Euromonitor market research group also predicted bourbon sales worldwide will likely drop during the next five years, Crain's said.

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