As spirits sales soar, beer giants are looking to bolster their beverage portfolios.
On Tuesday, Molson Coors announced it had reached an agreement to acquire Georgetown, Ky. based whiskey producer Blue Run Spirits, according to a press release. The announcement marks Molson Coors’ first spirits acquisition and strengthens the brewer’s move towards becoming a total beverage company.
Launched in 2020 by co-founders Mike Montgomery, Tim Sparapani, Jesse McKnight, and Andy Brown, Blue Run offers a collection of bourbon and rye whiskeys that retail for between $100 and $250 per bottle. The brand garnered attention for its allocated release strategy, similar to that of limited-edition sneaker drops. The idea was proposed by bottle designer Devon McKinney — famous for designing Nike’s Air Force One sneaker — and was intended to revolutionize the way whiskey is brought to consumers, according to Montgomery.
“Since launching Blue Run, we have always strived to do things a little differently to truly embrace today’s younger, more diverse generation of whiskey drinkers,” he says. “We are humbled by how the whiskey community has embraced our vision and that Molson Coors wants to join us and support us in this journey.”
In addition to announcing the acquisition, Molson Coors shared news of its new spirits business, Coors Spirits Co., which will house the conglomerate’s growing portfolio of spirits brands. Blue Run’s bourbons and ryes will join Coors’ existing whiskey brands Five Trail Blended American Whiskey, which was launched in 2021, and Barmen 1873 Bourbon, which hit markets the following year.
While the financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed, the press release did share that Blue Run’s founders will all remain with the brand, with Montgomery taking on an expanded role as Molson Coors’ vice president of Coors Spirits Co. Jim Rutledge, the Bourbon Hall of Famer serving as Blue Run’s distillery consultant and liquid advisor, will also stay with the brand, and Shaylyn Gammon, Blue Run’s current whiskey director, will take on the role of whiskey curator for Coors Spirits Co. Additionally, the $50 million distillery plans Blue Run announced in March 2023 and the brand’s three upcoming releases will be carried out by Molson Coors.
“Molson Coors has been on a journey to broaden beyond our beer roots and build powerful brands in growing categories, and Blue Run is joining us in an exciting new step as we establish Coors Spirits Co.,” said Michelle St. Jacques, Molson Coors’ chief commercial officer. “Blue Run has accomplished in three years what many brands hope to do in a generation and has done it at the luxury end of the whiskey category. Importantly, we are committed to maintaining Blue Run’s well-known quality, design and innovation as we continue to grow our spirits portfolio.”