Molson Coors Beverage Co. Makes 1st Spirits Acquisition

Widens portfolio with purchase of Blue Run Spirts, establishes Coors Spirits Co.
Molson Coors Beverage Co. has made its first spirits acquisition: Blue Run Spirits
Photograph courtesy of Molson Coors Beverage Co.

Broadening its reach beyond beer, Molson Coors Beverage Co. has made its first spirits acquisition: Blue Run Spirits, an award-winning producer of bourbon and rye whiskies.

Chicago-based Molson Coors said the deal represents another step in its evolution “as a total beverage company while providing Blue Run with resources to continue its growth.”

Since its launch in October 2020, Georgetown, Kentucky-based Blue Run has won numerous awards, most recently Best High Rye Bourbon at the 2023 New Orleans Spirits Competition. It also won 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.

It has also gained international acclaim among whiskey experts and branding aficionados who praise 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, Molson Coors said.

Adding Blue Run boosts Molson Coors’ footprint in spirits as it continues to evolve from its history as a beer company and premiumize its portfolio, Molson Coors said.

In tandem with the acquisition, Molson Coors has established Coors Spirits Co., an expansion of its existing spirits business, which will house Blue Run, Five Trail Blended American Whiskey, Barmen 1873 Bourbon and future innovation, the company said. This acquisition will more than double the size of Molson Coors’ spirits team, further supporting the company’s premiumization strategy.

Molson Coors entered the whiskey space with the 2021 launch of Five Trail Blended American Whiskey, which won double gold at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 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.,” said Molson Coors’ Chief Commercial Officer Michelle St. Jacques. “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, Molson Coors said. 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, all will remain with the brand. Montgomery will take on an expanded role with Molson Coors as its vice president of Coors Spirits Co. Jim Rutledge will continue to serve as Blue Run’s distillery consultant and liquid advisor. Shaylyn Gammon will serve as whiskey curator for Coors Spirits Co. David Coors will continue to lead Molson Coors’ 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.”

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