Constellation Brands, Inc. Buys High West Distillery

The news came out last night – High West Distillery was picked up by Constellation Brands, Inc.  It was rumored for several days that the Utah distillery was up for sale, with other companies placing bids.  The Wall Street Journal reported the winning bid came from Constellation Brands for a staggering $160 million.  Constellation Brands says it plans to keep all High West employees on as they continue business as usual.

Constellation Brands previously owned the Barton Distillery, but sold that off to Sazerac in 2009.

Here’s the full press release:

VICTOR, N.Y., Oct. 5, 2016 — Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE: STZ and STZ.B), a leading beverage alcohol company, today announced an agreement to purchase Utah-based High West Distillery. The acquisition includes all of High West’s operations and its portfolio of distinctive, award-winning and high-end American straight whiskeys. With High West, which has experienced double-digit volume growth year over year for the past three years, Constellation Brands enters the dynamic and profitable high-end craft whiskey segment. The transaction is expected to close by the end of October.

David Perkins and his wife, Jane, founded High West Distillery in 2004 with a vision to make delicious whiskey that celebrates the history and heritage of America’s Old West. High West’s proprietary blend of old and young whiskeys has received positive reviews from both industry experts and consumers. With a taste of the Old West and labels to match, consumers experience stories of cowboys, campfires, prairies and Utah history in every bottle. High West is the first legal distillery in the state of Utah since 1870. As part of the agreement, High West’s employees will join the Constellation Brands family to ensure continuity in the distinctive styles of the whiskeys.

“High West’s whiskeys are high-end, distinctive and delicious – perfect for today’s knowledgeable consumer who enjoys artfully crafted whiskeys,” said Bill Newlands, president, wine and spirits division, Constellation Brands. “With the addition of High West, Constellation Brands bolsters its position in the dynamic and growing craft spirits category. We look forward to welcoming this creative and talented team to Constellation Brands as we work together to drive growth for High West and build our premium spirits portfolio with brands that consumers love.”

“Our award-winning whiskeys are artfully blended to create unique and complex flavors inspired by the Old West,” said John Esposito, chief executive officer, High West. “We craft innovative whiskey blends that reflect our sense of adventure and pioneering spirit. When it came to the next step for High West, we wanted to work with the right partner that will help us grow further while maintaining our culture and core values. With the strength of the Constellation Brands team, we will be able to reach more consumers and continue our track record of innovation.”

The High West portfolio sells approximately 70,000 cases annually. The portfolio includes four core High West Whiskey products: American Prairie Bourbon, Double Rye!, Rendezvous Rye and Campfire, the only blend of Scotch, bourbon and rye whiskeys on the market. In addition, High West Distillery produces several limited edition whiskeys.



A Bit of Whiskey News 10/04/16

Here are some recent whiskey tidbits that hit my inbox:

ZOMBIE WHISKY? – The Lost Distillery Company launched three new Scotch whiskies in the U.S. market – Benachie, Towiemore, and Lossit.  These blended malts are the company’s attempt to resurrect flavors of how whiskies tasted about 100 years ago.  After months of historical research and analysis of old distilleries, they blended single malts to recreate what they conclude whiskies tasted like a century ago.  I’ll have tasting notes and more information for each of these in the coming days.

JOHNNIE WALKER MENTORSHIP PROGRAM – Johnnie Walker’s collaborated with Amazon to help educate customers about the history of Johnnie Walker, as well as personalized tastings, and cocktail ideas.  Customers can use the Amazon’s Alexa to ask about the brand.  Not an Amazon customer?  No worries.  You can use Facebook Messenger.  Johnnie Walker has created a bot for the messenger app, allowing the same brand education and information mentioned above.

A SHOT OF SAZERAC AND AN ABITA AMBER – Sazerac has launched a new campaign with Louisiana’s Abita Brewery and New Orleans male dance troupe the 610 Stompers.  The fun filled campaign promotes a shot/beer program around area bars that gives customers a shot of Sazerac Rye whiskey and an Abita Amber for a low price.  Friends of mine know Abita Amber is my favorite beer, and I’ve ordered this exact combo a while back.  The two spirits work together nicely.

2016 YELLOWSTONE LE BOURBON – The next iteration of Yellowstone Limited Edition bourbon hits stores this month.  This year’s is a blend of 7-year and 12-year old rye mashed bourbons.  Only 7,000 bottles of the 101 proof bourbon are being produced for a retail price of $99.99.

A. SMITH BOWMAN RELEASES GINGERBREAD COCOA FINISHED BOURBON – By the time you read this, the whiskey will most likely be sold out.  The distillery took a 9-year-old bourbon and finished it in barrels that held two Hardywood Park Brewery beers: Gingerbread Stout and Foolery Imperial Milk Stout.  It is available via the distillery starting October 1st in 375ml bottles for $39.99.

THE LAUNCH OF BOONDOCKS  – Industry veteran (we’re talking 40+ years) and former Woodford Reserve General Manager and Distiller AND Whisky Advocate Lifetime Achievement Award winner Dave Scheurich launched Boondocks, a new American whiskey.  Two expressions of the 11-year-old whiskies are hitting the market: a 95 proof and a cask strength 127 proof.  I hope to have tasting notes for these soon.

Weekly Whiskey News Roundup 8/12/16

Welcome to our inaugural weekly news roundup.  Every week or so, I’ll share any whisky news that hits my inbox in a short post.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about adding to the blog for a while.  With dental surgery curbing my whisky tasting for a few days, I figured now is as good a time as any to start.

  • New expressions of Glen Grant are hitting the U.S. market.  Glen Grant released a 12-year-old expression this past June, and an 18-year-old single malt is expected to hit shelves this October.  SRP for the latter is $119.99.  This announcement comes as their Master Distiller, Dennis Malcolm, was appointed “Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” by Queen Elizabeth.
  • Glenmorangie brings their Legends Collection to the U.S (sort of).  Starting August 10th and lasting for three months, Glenmo fans can taste and buy Duthac, Tayne and the most recent release Tarlogan at the International Shoppes Duty Free store at JFK Airport in NYC.
  • Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel program get a personal touch.  Dubbed the “Personal Collection,” Jack Daniel’s expansion of their Single Barrel program now allows customers to pick out their own barrel of the Tennessee Whiskey.  The new program is similar to the single barrel selections of other distilleries wherein the customer can come in and pick from a selection of barrels chosen by Master Distiller Jeff Arnett.  Can’t make the trip to Lynchburg, TN?  Jack Daniel’s distillery will ships samples to the customer to choose from.
  • The Cooper’s Croze: a new expression of Jameson soon arrives in the U.S.  The Cooper’s Croze is the first in a series of three whiskies that pay homage to different aspects of whiskey-making.  Created by Midleton Distillery Head Cooper Ger Buckley,  the new Irish whiskey is named after the tool used to make the groove where the head of the barrel is positioned in order to seal the barrel.  The new expression hits shelves this August for an SRP of $69.99.