6 September 2002
Business Wire

(Copyright (c) 2002, Business Wire)

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 6, 2002--The marketing of Willie Nelson-endorsed Old Whiskey River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey comes full circle this holiday season with gift packs featuring a special edition CD premium from the country music icon. The "Willie Nelson: Old Whiskey River Compilation" from Universal Music Special Markets, a division of Universal Music Enterprises, brings together eight previously released recordings from the superstar, including, of course, "Whiskey River," his 1978 hit after which the brand is named.

The Old Whiskey River Gift Pack debuts in November and contains a fifth of whiskey, cocktail recipes and party-hosting tips, an autographed Willie Nelson guitar pick and the CD premium. Melanie Wicker, Director of Promotions at Alive Spirits, calls the gift pack a "veritable party in a box." Adding, "Willie and Whiskey and some friends -- what more do you need?"

Says Kathy Hale, Sr. VP, Universal Music Special Markets: "The word `synergy' gets overused but this is one case where it really fits. For Willie's fans, and whiskey aficionados, adding a music premium to the product's gift pack is a perfect promotional tie-in, the sort of cross-marketing opportunity that Universal Music Special Markets continues to seek out."

The other tracks on the CD are vintage Nelson classics -- "Three Days" and "Playin' Dominoes And Shootin' Dice" -- plus selections from his most recent major label albums on Island and Universal: "It's A Dream Come True" (1996's "Spirit"), "Sittin' On Top Of The World" (2000's "Milk Cow Blues"), the title tracks from 2001's "Rainbow Connection" and 2002's "The Great Divide," and the latter's "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)."

The Old Whiskey River story began at a regular Monday night poker game at Willie's when friend Shep Gordon suggested the idea of a branded whiskey. Willie was sent various samples while he was touring until he found a bourbon he'd put his name on, one he calls "smooth, sweet and mellow." Old Whiskey River is an 86 proof small batch bourbon whiskey, aged six years in new charred American oak barrels and handcrafted by master distillers at Heaven Hill Distilleries in Bardstown, located (coincidentally) in Nelson County, KY. Released nationally in October 2001, Old Whiskey River garnered a Silver Award for Small Batch Bourbons at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition that same year.

Old Whiskey River is produced for Alive Spirits, a division of Gordon's Alive Enterprises which develops and markets top-tier, celebrity-driven brands. Alive Spirits is renowned for Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Tequila and Y Sake by Roy Yamaguchi, the first Daiginjo sake made in America. Gordon is also known for his film productions (among them, 1986's "Red Headed Stranger" starring Nelson) and for building the careers of chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, including the formation and distribution of the "Essence of Emeril" spiceline.

Please also note that Old Whiskey River is made with select grains purchased from independent family-owned farms. Nelson is President and Co-Founder of Farm Aid, a non-profit organization that supports America's independent farmers through grants and grass roots awareness programs. Old Whiskey River is also the sponsor of Willie's national concert tour.

Universal Music Group is the world's leading music company with wholly-owned record operations or licensees in 63 countries. Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, one of the industry's largest global music publishing operations.

Universal Music Group consists of record labels Decca Record Company, Deutsche Grammophon, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Island Def Jam Music Group, Lost Highway Records, MCA Nashville, MCA Records, Mercury Records, Motown Records, Philips, Polydor, Universal Music Latino, Universal Records, and Verve Music Group as well as a multitude of record labels owned or distributed by its record company subsidiaries around the world. The Universal Music Group owns the most extensive catalog of music in the industry, which is marketed through two distinct divisions, Universal Music Enterprises (in the U.S.) and UM3 (outside the U.S.). Universal Music Group also includes eLabs, a new media and technology division.

Universal Music Group is a unit of Vivendi Universal, a global media and communications company.