Constellation Brands has been on an investment tear of late. Their recent widely publicized investment wasn’t on the distilled spirits side but on the cannabis side with a whopping $4 Billion (yes, with a B) investment in Canadian based Canopy Growth Corporation. Distilled spirits makers that may have been thinking the Constellation Brands line of credit in spirits is over can breathe a bit easier with their latest announcement.
Constellation has announced taking a minority stake in craft spirits maker Black Button Distilling. Constellation and Black Button both call Rochester, New York home. The investment was made through Constellation’s venture capital group that identifies and invests in premium, emerging brands in categories that provide strong scalability, consumer appeal, and a unique niche or point of differentiation in the market. Black Button will continue to manage, produce, market and sell its high-performing, award-winning spirits.
Black Button Distilling was founded by owner and head distiller Jason Barrett in June 2012 at only 24 years old. The distillery includes a retail store, tours, tastings, craft cocktails and a unique venue for hosting events. Every batch of world-class spirits is distilled from local NY grains, bottled, labeled, hand numbered and aged in Rochester, Constellation’s backyard.
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“For us to continue the growth rate we believe we are capable of, it was time to find an equity partner. But we didn’t want just any equity partner. We wanted someone who understood our business, our culture and our goals,” said Barrett. “We found that partner right in our back yard. Constellation shares our love of Western NY and they are also committed to the agricultural roots that are so important to Black Button. This partnership is great for our employees, our ownership, our farmers and our consumers because we will be able to bring more great Black Button products to our community.”
Why Black Button?
Upstate New York is known for its many turn of the century mills. In the case of the Barrett family they’ve been making buttons since 1922. The family has provided some of the finest men’s suit buttons available. For four generations these buttons have closed suits worn by Presidents, Popes, Kings, and Businessmen the world over. There’s a family lineage of being a maker.
Black Button Distilling’s sales have more than tripled since 2014, and in 2017 Black Button expanded and opened a tasting room and bottle shop in Buffalo, N.Y. The distillery has won multiple awards including USA TODAY’s “10 Best Craft Distilleries,” the TheFiftyBest.com’s 2018 Silver Medal for its Straight Bourbon Whiskey in the Best Bourbon Category, and NASDAQ Stock Market’s 2016 list of “Next Great Consumer Brands.”
Black Button Distilling Offered These Insights into the Deal
Here’s a brief summary of the partnership provided by Jason Barrett.
“There is a reason why we have become the 2nd fastest growing distillery in the nation – loyal customers and partners like you. Without the outpouring of support from those who knew and saw our potential, we could not have achieved these amazing accomplishments year after year.”
- This is a partnership, NOT a buyout, all decisions will continue to come from myself and our managers.
- Constellation Brands will serve as a resource as we take on our next chapter of growth.
- Our partnership will allow for equipment/infrastructure investments and further investment in marketing that will allow us to increase our sales together.
- Our goal is to make a significant impact in New York State with more jobs here at our distillery, more work for our farmers, more product being made, and more Black Button Distilling bottles flying off shelves.
Constellation Welcomes Black Button to the Family
“As a company headquartered in the Greater Rochester region, we’re especially proud to make this investment in this local favorite,” said Constellation’s President and Chief Operating Officer, and incoming Chief Executive Officer Bill Newlands.
“Black Button has a proven track record of producing premium craft spirits that resonate with consumers and they have a variety of products that are aligned to consumer trends and fill white space within Constellation’s spirits portfolio. With our shared knowledge, experience and guidance, we will work together to help Black Button grow and expand the brands that craft spirits enthusiasts have come to know and love.”
Black Button Distilling makes Small-batch Straight Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey, Small-batch Straight Rye Whiskey, Barrel Strength Port Finished Bourbon, Bourbon Crème Bespoke Liqueur, Collaboration Whiskey, Apple Pie Moonshine, Citrus Forward Gin, Barrel Reserve Citrus Forward Gin, Lilac Gin, and Vodka. Its spirits are currently distributed throughout New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington DC and Japan.
Constellation Brands is a leading international producer of and marketer of beer, wine and spirits with operations in the U.S., Mexico, New Zealand, Italy and Canada. The company’s Constellation Ventures include investments in Catoctin Creek Distilling, Bardstown Bourbon Company, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, Real McCoy Spirits Corp. and Copper & Kings American Brandy.
Unlike Constellation’s $4 billion cannabis investment, terms of the Black Button Distillery transaction were not disclosed.