Cash for Craft

Spirit giant Diageo — its brands include Ketel One, Johnnie Walker and Captain Morgan — recently purchased Mr Black, an Australian cold brew coffee liqueur, anxious to establish a presence in a sector that has become highly competitive with the re-emergence of cocktails like the espresso martini and revolver. Claudia Schubert, president of Diageo North America, relates, “We believe Mr Black is just getting started in the dynamic coffee liqueur segment,” while co-founder Tom Baker states, “Coffee is more than just a drink — it’s a culture, ritual, obsession, aesthetic, experience, tradition, and community.”

Constellation Brands has been particularly aggressive about investing in or purchasing innovative distilleries. In 2020, the Fortune 500 corporation’s venture capital arm acquired Louisville’s Copper & Kings, maker of award-winning craft brandy aged in bourbon barrels. Copper & Kings, which has also produced gin, absinthe and a line of liqueurs, is famous for its unique technique of piping music through the cellar to enhance aging.

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