- Molson Coors Beverage is buying whiskey producer Blue Run Spirits for an undisclosed amount.
- The Georgetown, Kentucky-based distiller, which debuted in 2020, specializes in luxury craft bourbon and rye whiskey. The alcohol is sold in 31 states.
- The acquisition marks Molson Coors’ first purchase of a spirits producer. It joins Barmen 1873 Bourbon — its first bourbon offering that debuted in 2022 — in its Coors Spirits Co. division.
During a period of shifting market dynamics and consumer preferences, alcohol producers are moving aggressively to diversify their portfolios. The Blue Run purchase furthers Molson Coors’ goal to “evolve from its storied history as a beer company and premiumize its portfolio.”
Michelle St. Jacques, Molson Coors’ chief commercial officer, said in a statement that the company is aiming to develop a strong lineup of spirits. The Chicago-based company viewed Blue Run as a worthy candidate based on its early success.
Molson Coors noted the brand’s acclaim among whiskey aficionados, as it won awards at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the 2023 New Orleans Spirits Competition.
“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,” St. Jacques said. “We are committed to maintaining Blue Run’s well-known quality, design and innovation as we continue to grow our spirits portfolio.”
Blue Run’s co-founder and CEO Mike Montgomery will remain with the brand while also serving as Coors Spirits Co.’s vice president, the company said.
Under the leadership of CEO Gavin Hattersley, Molson Coors — primarily known for its beer products like Coors Light, Miller Light and Blue Moon — has broadened its lineup, even moving beyond alcohol.
Earlier this year, it debuted a line of canned nonalcoholic ready-to-drink cocktails called Roxie, citing growing interest in zero-proof drinks among Gen Z and millennial drinkers. And in 2021, Molson Coors signed a distribution deal for energy drink Zoa, joining the crowded category with a product touting better-for-you benefits such as vitamins, added electrolytes and amino acids.
The spirits expansion gives Molson Coors the opportunity to sell to consumers who do not purchase their beer products. The whiskey and bourbon industry is posting about $5.7 billion in annual revenue, data from IBISWorld showed, after posting 4.4% per year growth on average between 2018 and 2023.
Molson Coors’ spirits expansion could involve more ready-to-drink offerings, following its Topo Chico collaboration with Coca-Cola. Sales of ready-to-drink spirits have been on the rise in recent years, topping $1.6 billion in 2021 with industry analysts projecting further growth.