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Will it ever be hip to be square?

Mike Pomranz
April 30, 2018

Though boxed wine has seen its image improve over time, buying wine in boxes hasn’t taken America by storm. According to Nielsen data, in 2016, boxed wine represented about 20 percent of table wine volume or just over 8 percent of table wine retail dollar sales. Those numbers aren’t terribly low, but the discrepancy between the two also shows that sales of upmarket boxed wine are even weaker. So is America is ready for the next step in boxed booze: boxed liquor? Black Box, one of the original high-quality boxed wined brands, thinks so.

Black Box Wines likes to boast that in 2003, it became “the first U.S. brand to offer premium, appellation-specific, vintage-dated boxed wines.” Now, the label is hoping to parlay those past 15 years of consumer trust into a new product line, Black Box Premium Spirits. The recently launched booze—which is currently available in six states: Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania—comes in three varieties: vodka, whiskey, and tequila.

Aligning these spirits with the brand’s “premium” image, each product (all of which are 80 proof) suggests that being sold in a 1.75-liter box isn’t holding its quality back. The vodka is labeled as “triple distilled five times filtered.” The whiskey is “aged six years” in American Oak. Finally, the silver tequila is “made with fine blue agave” and is “small-batch distilled.”

“Black Box has been a pioneer in modernizing premium boxed wines,” Jaymie Schoenberg, vice president of Black Box Wines & Spirits, said in a press release. “We were inspired to take the success we have had with our award-winning premium boxed wines and translate this into the spirits category—delivering affordable, convenient, high-quality spirits.”

If drinkers believe the quality is there, the price certainly is right: Just $22.99 for the vodka or $24.99 each for the tequila and whiskey. Keep in mind, these “on tap” boxes provide a full “handle” of booze, more than twice what a standard 750-milliliter bottle offers, so you might as well cut those prices in half to get an accurate comparison to the cost of your normal tipple. Black Box itself suggests that, compared to the average price of the top five spirits brands, their boxes will cost you 20 percent less.

Now you just have to ask yourself, would you feel comfortable serving whiskey out of a box? Eh, a little boxed tequila should make you feel less self-conscious about that.

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