Molson Coors Beverage Company started dabbling outside of its beer world in 2021 with the launch of Five Trail Whiskey. That was a collaboration of spirits made at Bardstown Bourbon Company located in Bardstown, Kentucky. Molson Coors has announced a further investment in distilled spirits with the acquisition of startup company Blue Run Spirits. Blue Run Spirits was founded in October 2020.
Introducing ‘Coors Spirits Co.’
Molson Coors says the deal represents another step in Molson Coors’ evolution as a total beverage company while providing Blue Run with resources to continue its growth. As a part of the acquisition Molson Coors has announced the creation of Coors Spirits Co. The newly formed Coors Spirits Co. will house Molson Coors’ growing spirits division as part of the company’s shift from a beer company to a total beverage company. In addition to Blue Run Spirits the new company includes Five Trail Blended American Whiskey, and Barmen 1873 Bourbon. This acquisition will more than double the size of Molson Coors’ spirits team, further supporting the company’s premiumization strategy.
Blue Run Spirits is based in Georgetown, Kentucky. The company has won numerous awards, including Best Small Batch Bourbon – 11 Years Old & Older and Best Single Barrel Bourbon – 11 Years Old & Older at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and most recently was awarded Best High Rye Bourbon at the 2023 New Orleans Spirits Competition. It has also gained international acclaim among whiskey experts and branding aficionados who laud Blue Run’s divergence from traditional industry norms, which Forbes has called “sneakerizing the bourbon industry,” with premium whiskies that generate intense interest with each release.
Stay Informed: Sign up here for the Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.
The sneaker reference has to do with the companies founders who include a Nike designer, the first director-level employee at Facebook, a hospitality executive, a political advisor, and a philanthropist – all huge whiskey fans and individuals who acutely understand how to build demand and buzz for a contemporary consumer product. They are backed by a team of advisors including Nike marketing experts; the Campari communications veteran behind Wild Turkey and the Aperol Spritz; a former spirits distributor; and others with deep industry experience. The Blue Run name is a nod to one of our founder’s upbringing in Georgetown, Kentucky.
As Molson Coors’ first spirits acquisition, the addition of Blue Run boosts the company’s footprint in spirits as it continues to evolve from its storied history as a beer company and premiumize its portfolio. Molson Coors entered the whiskey space with the 2021 launch of Five Trail Blended American Whiskey and the 2022 introduction of Barmen 1873 Bourbon.
“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.”
Currently available in 31 states, Blue Run, with its trademark butterfly medallion on the bottle, can be found at retail and on-premise accounts in every region of the U.S and online. In March 2023, Blue Run announced plans to build a distillery in Kentucky. Those plans will continue as part of the Molson Coors family. In addition, Blue Run has three new whiskies slated for late summer/fall release.
Blue Run’s founders – Mike Montgomery, Tim Sparapani, Jesse McKnight and Andy Brown – will all remain with the brand. Montgomery will take on an expanded role with Molson Coors as its vice president of Coors Spirits Co. Bourbon Hall of Famer Jim 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. David Coors will continue to lead Molson Coors’ full-strength spirits strategy and business development as executive chair of Coors Spirits Co.
“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.”
Blue Run was represented by Samos Capital of Southlake, Texas in the transaction and is legally represented by Foley and Lardner LLP of Milwaukee and Kaplan, Johnson, Abate and Bird LLP of Louisville, in addition to being supported by Joseph Goode and Cody Matthews of Truist Bank of Charlotte, North Carolina. Molson Coors was legally represented by Quarles and Brady LLP of Milwaukee.
Blue Run Spirits Announces Plans to Build $51 Million Distillery & Rickhouse in Georgetown, Kentucky
Blue Run Spirits New $51 Million Distillery will ‘Meander’ for a Half-Mile Under a Photovoltaic Roof [Renderings]