Molson Coors Acquisition Of Blue Run Spirits Solidifies Its New Approach To Market

Food & Drink

Molson Coors
TAP
further shook up the evolving alcohol beverage landscape by announcing the purchase of boutique whiskey brand Blue Run Spirts today. Their announcement comes just one day after industry behemoth Anheuser-Busch InBev announced the sale of eight beer and beverage brands to Canadian cannabis company Tilray Brands.

Launched just three years ago, Blue Run Spirits has quickly catapulted itself to the top of the heap in the limited-release high-end bourbon market. Part of the buzz was that all of their releases were overseen by Bourbon Hall of Famer Jim Rutledge, the man behind Four Roses.

Their first release was named the world’s best bourbon at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. From that point on, the demand for their limited releases, each one packaged in a unique bottle that featured a different version of their butterfly logo. Their CEO and Co-Founder, Mike Montgomery, said that the company was inspired by the tennis shoe industry and the buzz surrounding new releases. He called it “sneakerizing the bourbon industry.”

The acquisition of Blue Run Spirits by Molson Coors, their first spirits purchase, only adds to the beer company’s evolution from being solely a beer brewer to a total beverage company. They make ZOA Energy drinks in conjunction with Dwayne Johnson, Topo-Chico Spirited with vodka and tequila, Mad Vine Colas, and their recently launched Roxie, a zero-proof cocktail.

“Molson Coors has been on a journey to broaden beyond our beer roots and build powerful brands in growing categories, and Blue Run joining us is an exciting next step as we establish Coors Spirits Co.,” Molson Coors’ Chief Commercial Officer Michelle St. Jacques said. “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.”

They made their first foray into hard spirits in 2021 with the launch of Five Trail Blended American Whiskey, launched under the Coors Whiskey Company umbrella. At the time of its launch David Coors, the head of Molson Coors full strength strategy and business development told Forbes that he had brought the idea up in the past to his father, then CEO Pete Coors, but was told the idea wasn’t a good fit. That changed when new CEO Gavin Hattersley took over and set the company on a path to restructure and expand its portfolio outside of beer.

It seems to be working since Molson Coors just announced its best quarterly brand volume trend since 2008. Doubtless, part of those numbers was fueled by the hit to their sales Anheuser-Busch InBev has seen to their brands across the United States in backlash to an advertising campaign that went awry. But they have reported positive trends for several quarters leading up to their latest one.

Currently available in 31 states and online, Blue Run Spirits has been steadily expanding its distribution and production capabilities over the last few years. They had been working on creating a $51 million state-of-the-art distillery in Kentucky, something that will continue under Molson Coors. Three new whiskeys slated for late summer/fall release will still happen as planned.

Blue Run’s four founders will remain with the brand, with Montgomery stepping into the role of VP of the Coors Spirits Co. Rutledge will continue to serve as Blue Run’s distillery consultant and liquid advisor, and recognized whiskey community rising star Shaylyn Gammon will serve as whiskey curator for Coors Spirits Co. The terms of the deal have yet to be released.

“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,” Montgomery said. “We are humbled by how the whiskey community has embraced our vision and that Molson Coors wants to join and support us in this journey.”

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