Constellation Brands is on an investment tear. For the second time this week they’ve announced an investment in a craft spirits brand. Their latest investment is a minority stake in Barbados based rum maker The Real McCoy.
The Real McCoy’s Founder and CEO Bailey Pryor, came up with the idea to make rum while producing a PBS documentary film about Bill McCoy, a Prohibition era rum runner known as The Real McCoy. During his research for the film, Pryor traveled to the Caribbean island of Barbados, where he met Richard Seale, a 4th generation Master Distiller at his family-owned Foursquare Distillery. In 2013, the two collaborated and developed a classic Barbados style rum, adhering to McCoy’s 1920s strict regimen of never adulterating the rum with added sugars, flavors or perfumes and The Real McCoy brand was born.
Under the new relationship, Constellation will handle distribution for the brand throughout the United States, and provide assistance with marketing and operations. The Real McCoy will continue to be managed by CEO, Bailey Pryor, and all distribution partners outside the United States will remain the same.
“We are excited about working with Constellation Brands because they clearly understand the marketplace and know how to build brands from the ground up, while maintaining product integrity,” said Pryor.
All senior executive positions in the company remain the same with CMO, Jennifer Pryor, COO, John Esposito and CFO, Walter Brunner remaining in their roles. Vice Presidents Mac Jones, Abbi Miller and Linda Lofstrom also remain in place with greater focus on key account management and expansion into new states.
“With Constellation’s investment and strategic counsel, we look forward to fully achieving our vision of expanding The Real McCoy’s reach throughout the United States,” said Master Distiller, Richard Seale.
Copper pot still at the Foursquare Distillery.
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“This doesn’t change who we are or how we go to market. The collaboration with Constellation allows us to reach new consumers, expand distribution and grow brand awareness, all while maintaining the integrity of what The Real McCoy is all about,” said COO, John Esposito.
“We look forward to working with Bailey, Jennifer, Richard, John and The Real McCoy team,” said Constellation Brands’ Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Newlands. “The spirits category represents a significant growth opportunity for Constellation, and continued investments in artisan brands like The Real McCoy are part of our overall Total Beverage Alcohol (TBA) strategy.”
A Side Note About Aging Spirits in the Caribbean
The Real McCoy is a small batch single blended rum, artisan crafted in copper stills and authentically aged 3, 5 or 12 years in used American oak bourbon barrels. It’s worth noting that a 3 to 12 year old barrel of spirits maturing in Barbados is completely different than the same number of years maturing in Kentucky, Tennessee or Scotland. Barbados sits about 900 miles from the equator and has a completely different climate than the original source of the used bourbon barrels from Kentucky. We often times talk about the Angel’s Share and as The Real McCoy’s founder explains, the Angels in Barbados are much, much thirstier in this part of the world.
Pryor says that “In Scotland for example you might lose 1% or 2% of the content of a barrel to evaporation (per year.) It’s called the Angel’s Share. And in Kentucky or Tennessee making bourbon, they might lose 2% to 4%. You get to Barbados where our rum is made and you lose between 6% and 8% every year and that’s a tremendous amount. When you get to the point where you have for example 100 barrels, you set 100 barrels down and you let them sit for 12 years in the case of our 12 year rum so much evaporation has occurred that about roughly a third of the barrel is left. Everything else has evaporated. That’s a lot of loss. If you had the same 12 years in Scotland you would only lose a little bit and in Kentucky a little more but in Barbados it’s a lot. So that’s what they mean by saying things like Caribbean aging, where they say a five year rum is the same as a 15 year Scotch.”
The Real McCoy Documentary Film
Constellation Brands, founded in 1945 and a Fortune 500 Company, has grown to become a significant player in the beverage alcohol industry with more than 100 brands in its portfolio; about 40 wineries, breweries and distilleries; and approximately 10,000 employees. The company’s premium spirits brands include SVEDKA Vodka, Casa Noble Tequila and High West Whiskey.
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