Jay Harman runs a successful brewery, but what he really wants to talk about these days is whiskey.
The chief executive of Cisco Brewers on Nantucket and his partners have a side project, Triple Eight Distillery. And for the first time, Triple Eight is rolling out a significant volume of its Notch whiskey.
Before 2023, Notch was sold in small batches to those in the know, mainly to island visitors and online. But this year, Triple Eight is releasing several thousand bottles of its eight-year, 12-year and 15-year versions of Notch. Triple Eight is working with Martignetti Cos. to distribute the whiskey; they held a launch party last month at Abe & Louie’s in the Back Bay.
A 750 milliliter bottle does not come cheap. The price for the 8-year is $250, the 12-year is $350, and the 15-year sells for $500. Even at those prices, Harman says Triple Eight has not yet turned a profit on Notch. (Triple Eight is owned by the same partners behind Cisco: Harman, Dean Long, Melissa Long, Randy Hudson, and Wendy Hudson.) Triple Eight started making its whiskey nearly 25 years ago, but it takes time to age the liquid in wooden barrels. The first batch was not available for sale until 2008, and the 400 bottles released at the time sold out almost immediately.
“The art of making whiskey is all about patience,” Harman said. “This is definitely a passion project.”
Along the way, Notch racked up enough industry awards to fill a liquor cabinet. Some in the industry even joke with the Triple Eight principals that they’re hoarding the good stuff to drink themselves, because the volumes have been so minimal.
Harman hopes the time, patience, and money Triple Eight has invested in the whiskey will lead to profits eventually. “For now,” Harman added, “the payoff is the positive reaction we see when people taste it.”
Remembering Bob Popeo
Bob Popeo was known for his tenacity, legal acumen, and philanthropy.
But other sides of Popeo, who died in July at age 85, came out during an event honoring the former Mintz chairman at the Boston federal courthouse last week.
Patriots fans probably don’t know the role the lawyer played in ensuring the team remained in Foxborough. Owner Robert Kraft was considering moving to Hartford in the late 1990s. But Popeo convinced Kraft to stay, as Kraft recounted in a video of testimonials shared at the event.
“Bob also gave me a piece of advice that was instrumental to keeping the New England Patriots in Foxborough, and that will go with me to the grave,” said Kraft, one of many power brokers who spoke in the video and attended the event. “If it weren’t for him, our team could be playing somewhere very different today.”
Suffolk Construction owner John Fish talked about how Popeo always seemed to know what people around the table were thinking. Putnam Investments boss Bob Reynolds said Popeo’s ability to “relate to people at all levels” was unique. Governor Maura Healey called Popeo the “consummate connector,” bringing together business and political leaders to solve problems. Kimberly Budd, now chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, remembers when she first encountered Popeo in court and “he got the case dismissed before it even got started.”
Then there was Mintz managing partner Bob Bodian, the event’s emcee. Bodian said he broached the issue of succession with Popeo.
“I’m not going to do this managing partner role forever,” Bodian said in the video. “Bob looked at me with a completely straight face and said, ‘Well, you don’t have to do it forever, . . . just ‘til you die.’ And to me that embodied everything Popeo.”
Goodbye, and hello, to GE
General Electric — as most of us know it — is going away. But a new company, GE Vernova, is starting to take shape.
By mid-2024, the dissolution of the GE conglomerate will be complete. The remaining business lines will be split between GE Aerospace, led by current GE chief executive Larry Culp, and GE Vernova, a group of GE’s energy businesses led by chief executive Scott Strazik. As a result, GE’s corporate office in Boston will close. So it’s a good thing for the region that GE Vernova is here to stay. Strazik hosted Governor Maura Healey at the opening of the company’s new Cambridge headquarters earlier this month. Then, last week, GE Vernova announced it would become one of the top sponsors of Greentown Labs, the Somerville clean-tech startup incubator. And this week, GE Vernova is set to announce a partnership with The Engine, a VC firm and accelerator in Cambridge for manufacturing startups.
On LinkedIn, Strazik called the headquarters opening a major milestone for GE Vernova’s 80,000-plus employees around the world. Cambridge, he said, is a great match for the company, and he’s excited to help continue GE’s presence in the region.
“The city offers a dynamic environment, steeped in education and talent, with cutting edge universities, startups and climatetech incubators,” Strazik wrote. “Cambridge offers a growing community focused on the energy transition spanning our own customers, scientific research, policy thought leaders, and investment capital.”
What’s in a name for Point32Health?
Three years after Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan came together under one corporate umbrella, many consumers still aren’t familiar with the name of their new parent company, Point32Health.
Stephen Cassell, Point32Health’s chief marketing officer, talked about the challenges and opportunities ahead of him and his employer at an Ad Club meeting held at the Digitas offices in downtown Boston last week. (Boston Globe Media sponsored the event.) The name Point32Health refers to the 32 points of a compass, and implies that the Canton not-for-profit organization helps people navigate the health care system. Yet the Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts brands live on as well; Harvard Pilgrim takes the lead on employer plans, while Tufts is more focused on Medicaid and Medicare plans.
“How we’re approaching that is we’re leveraging the brands that are already there,” Cassell added. “You’re probably not going to see high frequency Point32Health ads on TV. What you see is Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts.”
That’s one possible reason why the two original brand names have staying power. But bringing them together under one roof as Point32Health, Cassell said, can point to an even better future for them.
From Boston to Belfast, and Derry too
No trip to Northern Ireland these days would be complete without a visit to the Derry Girls Mural. But first, for Joe Kennedy III and the trade delegation he led, there was business to be done.
Kennedy, the Biden administration’s special envoy for Northern Ireland, just got back from leading several dozen business leaders to Northern Ireland. Among the locals on board were Liberty Mutual chief executive Tim Sweeney, former HubSpot cofounder Brian Halligan, Susan Livingston of Brown Brothers Harriman, and Frank O’Sullivan of S2G Ventures. Many delegation members stopped first in Dublin to meet with the US ambassador to Ireland (and former Massachusetts state rep), Claire Cronin. Then came visits in Northern Ireland with political leaders such as Mayor Ryan Murphy of Belfast and retired politicians including Peter Robinson, Gerry Adams, and Eileen Bell.
New York State comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced a $50 million investment by his state’s pension fund into Northern Ireland businesses, Kennedy said, while Coca-Cola president John Murphy unveiled a bottling plant expansion there. Participants commented about how a tour like this wouldn’t have been possible before the Good Friday accord of 1998 brought an uneasy peace, ending decades of sectarian violence known as The Troubles.
Eventually, many delegates ended up taking selfies at the Derry Girls Mural, a painting of cast members from the hit Netflix show, in the city of Derry. Kennedy said local kids couldn’t resist teasing the tourists.
“Four eight-year-olds from off the street started throwing zingers at Tim Sweeney and John Murphy,” Kennedy said.
It was yet another reminder to the entourage of how far Northern Ireland has come.