Thursday, February 4, 2016

Alcohol Industry Regulators will want to take note...

In an unceremonious fashion, on an unparticular and ordinary day, the Alcohol Regulatory Industry may experience an operational shift unlike that which has been seen in many years, and it all starts with a day in court.

This is the story of a man that was once ingratiated by the press for creating the fastest growing alcohol distribution company in the country; a man whom in less than a decade built his company from a few cases of liquor sold out of a home garage to an empire operating in 33 US States and 12 foreign countries, a man who created good paying jobs for hundreds of employees and who accomplished many tens of millions in revenues while creating a publicly traded company to grow into all 50 states, a man who was suddenly and almost instantly stopped in his tracks.

C. J. Eiras, the former CEO of the now defunct Liquor Group was unexpectedly arrested in 2012 for 70 Felony counts including criminal tax evasion and bootlegging, and was burdened with a bond to get out of jail set at $2.25 Million Dollars, a bond that is many times more than that set for accused rapists, child molesters or even murderers.  To add insult to injury, the press gobbled up the story, as it was spoon fed to them by the powers that be.  The national press wrote newspapers, magazine articles and even produced whimsical "American Greed" stylized stories about a modern day Gangster Bootlegger, one whom was nefariously operating a criminal enterprise network with evil lair facilities spread across the country that would make even Al Capone green with envy.

Elliot Ness turns into Hellova Mess.

Well after the dust settled, a completely different picture emerged.

The Special Prosecutor selected to handle the case spent 16 months deliberating over the "evidence" of wrongdoing by Eiras, and in the end publicly stated that there was no evidence to substantiate any of the claims made by the State of Florida Alcohol Beverage & Tobacco Division (ABT).  Well that in itself is disastrous for the State, however when you dig deeper you find that the actual agent in charge of the investigation, one Eugene Baker, has his own history with multiple government agencies of wrongdoings and miss deeds. Baker was actually concurrently being investigated by the Inspector General for the State of Florida while Eiras' case was being deliberated.

It gets worse...

When you dig even deeper to find the agent whom initiated the investigation was actually a former ABT Agent, Leonard Lee, who during his stint at the ABT arrested a Liquor Group manager in Florida for Selling Alcohol without a License, when in fact not only did the manager have his own personal LQS license with Florida, but he was delivering alcohol under the Liquor Group license in Florida, and was actually dropping off a donation of rum and vodka to a charity.  The record after this is unclear, but it looks like Lee lost his ABT job after that case was thrown out by the court at the initial hearing, but I digress.

So now Eiras holds another record to add to his illustrious resume of achievements; the record for being arrested with the highest count of Felony Charges under the highest bond request to ever be dropped without any plea bargaining, by any prosecutor, in any state, at any time in the history of the alcohol industry.  All of this activity, accusations, arrest, press, presumptions and vindications without a single court hearing ever scheduled on the docket, so ho
w then does Eiras get his day in court?  

On February 4, 2016 Eiras filled suit against the State of Florida ABT and Eugene Baker individually, and the ripple effects of this litigation will have State Alcohol Agencies all over the country watching keenly to see just what happens next. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Bootlegger" charges dropped: Will the $2.25 Million Bond to be returned?

Jacksonville, FL - May 15, 2014   

According to court documents the State of Florida has officially declined prosecution of Liquor Group and Happy Vodka founder C.J. Eiras, following his arrest in August 2012.  Eiras was initially charged with 69 felony counts related to bootlegging alcohol and avoiding the taxes on the alcohol by the Alcohol Beverage & Tobacco (ABT) Division of the State of Florida.  Eiras was set with a $2.25Million Dollar bond and faced more than 100 years jail time for those charges.  Just hours after the arrest, Eiras was bonded out of jail and the State records show that there was never any court hearings held in the case after this bonded release. 

The Division Chief of the State Attorney Office Special Prosecution Division Mr. Dan Skinner handled the case from inception due to the largess of the charges and the magnitude of the bond requested by the State.  The final Statement filed by Skinner with the Court notes: "After reviewing the evidence in the above styled case, the undersigned Assistant State Attorney declines to prosecute this defendant (Eiras) for these charges, and any civil charges..."  This seems to put to rest the claims that Eiras was a "bootlegger" and operating a business avoiding taxes on alcohol.

Eiras, a successful philanthropist and well know figure in the alcohol industry made a company statement that he is "pleased that the State Attorney office took the time to carefully review the evidence and facts to determine that there was no wrong doing on my part."   Eiras has been in the news over the years as a speaker for the World Trade Association and the NASDAQ VICEX Fund, and it will be of interest to see if this development will signal a new era of communication with Regulators and the alcohol industry as a whole.  

Attorney Mitch Stone whom represented Eiras in this case held a press conference to exonerate Eiras and to clear the air on the charges that are now dismissed. 

This sort of case begs the question of proper regulation of the beverage industry. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

World's Largest Beverage Competition: Entry Period Ending

For Immediate Release: November 04, 2013 - (BevNews1) -- The World Beverage Competition (WBC) and related competitions World Wine Competition, World Spirits Competition, World Beer Competition, known as “The World’s Largest Beverage Competition”™ is wrapping up their entry period. Entrants must submit their brands by November 15th to be considered for the prestigious Platinum Award.

The WBC is known for their unbiased judging panel, their extremely large and diverse participant base, and the prestige of their awards. It's a unique arena where small and mid-sized beverage brands compete in a fair and honorable double-blind taste test alongside major beverage conglomerates such as Dannon®, Bacardi®, Pepsico®, Liquor Group®, China Mist Teas®, E&J Gallo® and Diageo®.

Another unique aspect of the World Beverage Competition is the fact that they include non-alcohol categories in addition to the Beer, Wine, and Spirits competitions. The full spectrum of categories includes, but is not limited to: Dairy, Energy Drinks, Water, Soda, Sports Drinks, Dietary Beverages, Powdered Drink Mixes, Juices, Coffee, Tea, Wine, Spirits, Liqueurs, Cider and Beer.

All products submitted to the World Beverage Competition are taste tested by a panel of Judges who…

…are industry professionals from 6 different continents; not celebrities, beverage retailers or public figures whom may show partiality towards a particular brand.

…are not divulged to the public, to avoid undue influence from brand owners and the media, which results in issues of credibility for the competition.

…do not see the packaging or know the brand-name prior to documenting and submitting their tasting scorecards.

For beverage brands who have not yet entered, there's little time left. For consumers looking for the highest quality beverages on the market, keep your eyes peeled in 2014 for those Platinum Awards adorning the necks of bottles on shelves all over the world!

For more information on the WBC, email or visit:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

C.J. Eiras Keynote Speaker for World Trade Conference

Jacksonville, FL – Tuesday January 15, 2013 – C.J. Eiras, CEO of Liquor Group Wholesale, Inc. (LIQR) was “tapped” as keynote speaker for conference on the future of the Alcohol Beverage industry with dignitaries and observers of the World Trade Organization.

Eiras, an industry veteran whom has been a resource for such global endeavors as the industry gauge study conducted by Allianz Global Investors entitled “Hard Liquor and Spirits Sales in the U.S.” and selected by Eric Lansky, CEO of USA Mutuals to speak at the "Invest Your Knowledge" conference for shareholders of its Vice Fund (VICEX). 

The crux of the speech was focused on globalized branding and shrinking distribution channels in world markets. 

Key components of the speech included:

·         Potential for Global Harmonization of Alcohol Laws
·         Increasing Pressures of Brand Compliance 
·         Brand Marketing to Create a Global Presence
·         Social Media’s Effect on the Alcohol Industry

C.J. Eiras, best known for creating the Happy Vodka brand and his Innovative Distribution System utilized by Liquor Group was honored to be a part of the conference and has had very positive follow up responses from the attendees.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Liquor Group Wins Litigation: Alcohol Brands Forced Adhere To Contract or Face Legal Liquidation

July 14, 2011 Jacksonville, FL – Public records show that Liquor Group Wholesale, Inc. (Publicly Traded: LIQR) and Liquor Group Florida, LLC., their State Level Distribution Customer have completed another Alcohol Brand litigation in their favor, this is the most recent in a series of litigation victories for the company.
Court records show that the initial claim was filed in against a brand supplier of LIQR, Liquor Group Holding, LLC. (LGH), but was revised to include many other Liquor Group companies in an attempted litigation “drag net”.
The Judge in Duval County Civil Court determined that a brand that contracted with LGH for distribution cannot simply add any/all Liquor Group companies as Defendants in the case just because they provided services on behalf of LGH, regardless of the binding Arbitration status or any outstanding claims of the contract. This process would either force a default or require each of the various Liquor Group named entities to defend the litigation, which was found to be procedurally improper and unfair by the courts. The opposing brand in this instance not only lost against LGH, but may now have to defend against Counterclaims and Sanctions levied against them by Liquor Group Florida, LLC. and Liquor Group Wholesale, Inc. for attorneys fees and costs.
So what’s the problem?
The basic principle is simple: Brands contracted for distribution must abide by the term length and conditions of their contracts, and they must pay for the marketing and expenses that they contract for; or they face treble damages or liquidation of inventory to cover the uncollected fees and costs. The records show that Liquor Group only uses this process as a last resort, giving brands six full months to bring their contract into compliance, and then implements under strict State and Federal guidelines. Other distributors are not so patient, many have a 30 or 60 day clause to quicken the process.
LIQR not the only ones…
Though the premise seems straightforward, during the 2009-2010 economic down-turn, many alcohol beverage brands within the US found themselves unable or unwilling to support the sale of their products by providing their distributor/brokerage partners with the contracted adequate marketing monetary support; and many others simply failed to repay their bill-backs for services such as brokerage fees and delivery fees due in Control States. Court records in Florida, Texas, California and New York show that most every major alcohol distributor in the US litigated heavily with brand suppliers during this timeline, mostly to enforce contracts or collect on bill-backs.
The Results are in:
This lack of follow through by brands had a massive cumulative negative effect on all major alcohol industry distributors/brokers throughout the US, leaving many distributors and brokerages out of business by 2011, (public records show that more than 35% of state level distribution/brokerage licenses terminated during this time period). Many of the remaining distribution/brokerage companies have been unable to recover or recoup these losses from their brand suppliers due to inadequate or unenforceable contracts.
Although according to their 2009-2010 public disclosures, LIQR suffered many hundreds of thousands in “uncollectable” invoices from various brand suppliers due to this unsettling situation, the contracts they utilized specifically address these very issues, which resulted in a much smaller number of brands defaulting on agreements without recourse than average distributors or brokerages; and the vast majority of brands who did default in their agreements yielded profits to the companies through public auction style liquidations of inventory held to defray or cover costs incurred by these brand suppliers.
Is it getting any better?
At the height of the economic downturn, LIQR was involved in 15 cases related to brand defaults, brand issues or brands attempting termination without cause, which considering the 3,000+ brands represented in 33 US States, that number does not seem so dramatic. Currently the number of outstanding cases has decreased dramatically, a spokesperson for LIQR states that they are now only involved in two brand related litigations, both tied to contracts with LGH, and the company contemplates that both will be resolved favorably.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Liquor Group Expanding Diageo $2BN Portfolio across US

June 6, 2011 – London, England – The World's Largest Spirits Company, London-based Diageo (DEO), is known as the maker of leading alcohol brands including: Johnnie Walker Whisky, Jose Cuervo Tequila, Crown Royal Canadian Whisky, Captain Morgan Rum and Smirnoff Vodka. However, they now have a new $2.3 Billion feather in their cap: Mey Icki Distillery, Turkey's largest spirits company, that holds an 80 percent share of the country's top-selling spirit categories, lead by Binboa Vodka.

April 2011, Liquor Group Wholesale (LIQR) began implementing their domestic distribution strategy commencing in Florida; marking the first time Binboa Vodka had ever been sold in the US. Due to overwhelming success, the Binboa Vodka product line is now expanding with Liquor Group into Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Binboa Vodka has award winning flavors including: Red Apple, Satsuma, Red Orange and Strawberry, suiting the palates of Young, Hip and Daring Taste Aware Consumers. Binboa Vodka uses a marketing approach based on Cerebral Mid-Twenties Survey Advertising Campaigns; slogans include: “On a Night Out, 95% of Party Goers Meet New People, 5% Remember Their Names Afterwards…” and “On a Friday Afternoon, 4% of People Work, 96% Pretend To Work.” Uniquely packaged high quality spirits coupled with catchy marketing earned Binboa Vodka the largest market share in segments of Europe and Asia, and now the target is the US.

“Liquor Group understands the multi-billion dollar potential identified by Diageo Executives that purchased this brand, notably long before ever selling a single bottle into the US, the largest market in overall sales in the world.” says C. J. Eiras, CEO of Liquor Group Wholesale “Binboa Vodka enjoyed immediate results from our Patent-Pending Bailment Distribution Model, and we feel strongly that this expansion is only the beginning of a larger move forward.”

About Diageo

Diageo is the world's leading premium drinks business with an outstanding collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, beer and wine. These brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, J&B, Windsor, Buchanan's and Bushmills whiskies, Smirnoff, Ciroc and Ketel One vodkas, Baileys, Captain Morgan, Jose Cuervo, Tanqueray and Guinness.

Diageo is a global company, with its products sold in more than 180 countries around the world. The company is listed on both the New York Stock Exchange (DEO) and the London Stock Exchange (DGE). For more information about Diageo, its people, brands, and performance, visit us at For our global resource that promotes responsible drinking through the sharing of best practice tools, information and initiatives, visit

Celebrating life, every day, everywhere.

About Liquor Group Wholesale

Liquor Group Wholesale, Inc. (LIQR) is an emerging alcohol distribution/brokerage organization representing thousands of brands with operations in 33 US States. Our Manufacturer to State level conveyance utilizes a Patent-Pending business model focused on providing unique trade channels for many of the world’s leading & emerging alcohol beverage brands. Current/historical financial information at: and

Monday, April 4, 2011

$2.1 BN Brand Launched in the US by Liquor Group

The news hit the NASDAQ Building all day long:

In late February 2011, Diageo (NYSE:DEO) the world's largest spirits maker, announced that it had agreed to buy Mey Icki Distillery, Turkey's biggest spirits company, that holds an 80 percent share of the country's top-selling spirit categories. London-based Diageo, is the maker of leading alcohol brands including Johnnie Walker whisky, Captain Morgan Rum, Jose Cuervo Tequila and Smirnoff vodka to name a few, acquired Mey Icki and their entire portfolio of products for $2.1 billion in cash from the private equity firms TPG Capital whom manages$48BN in assets with operations worldwide, and Actera, a Turkish Based fund operating in excess of $500 million.

Liquor Group Wholesale (Publicly Traded: LIQR) and it’s privately held state level distribution network was chosen to implement the initial 2 year US distribution strategy for the Mey Icki Portfolio, which is lead by Binboa Vodka; and the first containers of the vodka the have already landed on US shores at Liquor Group distribution hubs. Binboa comes in award winning bold flavors including: Red Apple, Satsuma, Red Orange and Strawberry, to suit the palates of the new “Daring Taste Aware Consumer”. These products are already funneling through the State Level Customer Distribution Channels of Liquor Group, are being registered for sale in various states and are moving towards end consumers.

“Liquor Group is very pleased to be selected among all of the larger distributors commonly used by major portfolios like Diageo to launch and develop these important brands throughout the US.” says C. J. Eiras, CEO of Liquor Group Wholesale “Our unique abilities and flexibility-to-market allows Liquor Group to achieve distribution success for smaller and larger brands; Binboa will see immediate results at the cash registers due to our Patent-Pending Bailment Distribution Model.”

Binboa’s successful marketing approach has been based on a 'Cerebral' Mid-Twenties Survey Style Advertising Campaign; including such slogans as: “On a Night Out, 95% of Party Goers Meet New People, 5% Remember Their Names Afterwards…” and “On a Friday Afternoon, 4% of People Work, 96% Pretend To Work.” High quality spirits coupled with this catchy marketing approach has earned Binboa Vodka the largest market share in segments of Europe and Asia, and will appeal to hip, market savvy US consumers as well. Eiras summarized: “Since Diageo has spent more on this acquisition than Bacardi spent on the purchase of Grey Goose Vodka, we at Liquor Group are confident that this Portfolio is well positioned for success.”