Brown-Forman Acquires The 86 Co. and Fords Gin – The Cocktail Gin

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Brown-Forman Corporation announced an agreement to purchase The 86 Company. Upon completion, Brown-Forman will add Fords Gin, a premium gin to its growing portfolio.

The 86 Co. - Logo“Fords Gin is a unique brand with terrific momentum in one of the fastest growing categories in spirits,” said Lawson Whiting, President and Chief Executive Officer, Brown-Forman. “We look forward to building Fords Gin into another iconic brand in our portfolio.” A portfolio that includes iconic brands like Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

Fords Gin was created in unison with professional bartenders as a versatile spirit that could be used in any gin-based cocktail, no matter the recipe ingredients. Fords Gin is a collaboration between Simon Ford and 8th generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers.

“Brown-Forman is a great partner to bring Fords Gin to more bartenders and consumers in the U.S. and around the world while keeping our commitment to producing a unique, high quality, mixable gin,” said Simon Ford, co-founder, The 86 Company. “We’re extremely thankful to all our supporters who have been championing the brand since the beginning and look forward to seeing what the future holds with our new collaborators.”

The 86 Co. which launched in 2012 also owns Cana Brava Rum, Aylesbury Duck Vodka and Tequila Cabeza. The company had previously announced that they were phasing out those brands to focus solely on their gin.

What Makes Fords Gin Unique? Nine Botanicals

Unlike Colonel Sanders and most gin makers who don’t share their secret recipe Fords Gin does share their secret blend that makes up their gin. It’s a mix of nine botanicals that starts with a traditional base of juniper and coriander seed balanced by citrus, florals, and spices. The nine botanicals found in Fords Gin are sourced from Joseph Flach & Sons Ltd. who have been importing medicinal and culinary botanicals from around the world for London gin houses & tea companies since the days of the British Empire.

Spice Percent Notes Origin
Juniper 49.5% Savory, refreshing, pine, lavender Italy
Coriander 30.5% Spice, Citrus, orange, structure Romania
Lemon 3.2% Sharp, bright, also adds dryness Spain
Bitter Orange 3.2% Brightness, sweet & bitter citrus Haiti & Morocco
Grapefruit 3.2% Sharp, tangy, citrus, pith Turkey
Cassia 2.0% Warm, sweet, aromatic spice Indonesia
Angelica 3.2% Pungent sweetness & dryness Poland
Jasmine 3.2% Elegant & floral, adds dry finish China
Orris 2.0% Earthy & floral, binds flavors Italy & Morocco

How Fords Gin is Distilled Using the Nine Botanicals

Steeping – The nine botanicals that make up Fords Gin are steeped in stills for 15 hours to soften them and bring out more flavor before distillation. Because of this 15-hour process, the botanicals release most of their oils, giving Fords Gin weight & viscosity, and most importantly, one of its defining characteristics.

Distillation – Fords Gin is distilled for five hours in stills crafted by the legendary John Dore still-making company for the Thames Distillery. Appropriately named Tom Thumb and Thumbelina, these 500-liter stills each produce a 200-liter batch of Fords Gin.

Final Step After the distillation process, Fords Gin is shipped in bulk to Mendocino County, California, where the gin is cut with local well water, giving it its final layer of quality before bottling at 90 proof.

And a note about the bottle. The Bartenders Gin is not just a slogan. Take a look at the custom made bottle design below and you’ll see that over 100 bartenders contributed to the design of the bottle.

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Simon Ford and The 86 Company team will remain a key part of the building and crafting of Fords Gin going forward. The purchase will include the Fords Gin trademark and other assets of The 86 Company. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close within 30 days.

The terms of the deal between Brown-Forman and The 86 Co. were not disclosed.

The 86 Co. - Fords Gin Custom Bottle, The Bartenders Gin BottlePlease help to support Distillery Trail. Sign up for our Newsletter, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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