- Molson Coors Beverage’s subsidiary Coors Whiskey Co. is launching Barmen 1873 Bourbon, the alcohol maker’s first true bourbon offering, the company said in a statement.
- Named for the Coors family’s German hometown and the year Coors Brewing launched, Barmen 1873 will be co-displayed with its Coors Banquet beer in some locations. The two brands will be touted as a “Banquet and Barmen” pairing in bars.
- The new bourbon further blurs the line between beer and spirit makers. It also builds on Molson Coors’ broader goal to overhaul its portfolio to include other beverages beyond its namesake brews amid a rapid shift in consumer tastes and preferences.
Since taking over the top job at Molson Coors in September 2019, Gavin Hattersley has become an expert in energy drinks, beverages with THC, hard seltzers and plant-based diet sodas, ready-to-drink cocktails and now bourbon.
To be sure, the Chicago-based company still gets the majority of its sales from beers such as Miller Lite, Coors Light and Molson, but as the recent launches show, Molson Coors is intent on expanding its reach into new categories — many of them with a focus on premium-based offerings that are growing rapidly in the alcohol segment.
The market size of the whiskey and bourbon distilleries industry is $5.7 billion in revenue, according to data from IBISWorld. It noted the category has grown 4.4% per year on average between 2018 and 2023.
A move into other beverages beyond beer not only enables Molson Coors to lay the foundation for future growth, but it places the company in a better position to respond to changing consumer tastes since it’s more likely to have a brand in that space should shopper tastes shift.
Molson Coors also appears to be targeting Barmen 1873, at least in part, to beer drinkers. This could increase the likelihood that someone looking to grab a spirit might turn to a Molson Coors product if they’re not in the mood for a beer or looking to add some variety to their alcohol consumption on a particular drinking occasion.
“Barmen plays in the space of sweet on the front and a long, lingering spice finish on the end, and it’s available at an approachable price point for bourbon fans,” David Coors, vice president of next generation beverages, said in a statement. “Our entry into whiskey started in 2021, but Barmen 1873 gives new meaning to our 150-year legacy in the beverage business.”
Molson Coors has ventured into whiskey before, but the spirit didn’t qualify as bourbon. A spirit needs to meet several specifications to be classified as a bourbon.
In 2021, Molson Coors launched its first spirit: a blended American whiskey called Five Trail. The 95-proof ultra-premium beverage is made in partnership with Kentucky’s Bardstown Bourbon Co., and is a blend of Colorado single-malt whiskey made with Coors malts and three bourbons, cut to proof with Rocky Mountain water.
The company’s work with Five Trail undoubtedly gave it the kind of expertise needed to create and launch Barmen 1873. Barmen, a blend of straight bourbon whiskies bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky, is 92 proof and 46% alcohol by volume. The company says it has notes of caramel, vanilla and toffee, amplified by grilled peach, dark chocolate and coffee, with a lingering finish of cinnamon, ginger and baking spice.