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Constellation Takes Minority Stakes In Copper & Kings, Real McCoy

January 5, 2018

Constellation Brands has taken minority stakes in up and coming craft brandy producer Copper & Kings and rum producer Real McCoy for an undisclosed sum.

With American brandy experiencing a renaissance, Louisville, Kentucky-based Copper & Kings has been among the craft players stoking growth in the category, with distribution to 31 states. The portfolio includes a variety of brandies, apple brandies, absinthe and gin retailing from around $30-$60 a bottle.

“We are going to need additional gas in the tank to keep up with the growth we are now encountering as a brand, and for the brandy category in general,” said Copper & Kings founder Joe Heron. “Brown spirits have a very long-term planning horizon; 10 years or more out. Constellation’s investment will help us move forward with appropriate capital.”

Constellation executive vice president and COO Bill Newlands added, “Copper & Kings’ entrepreneurship and focus on premium high-end craft spirits aligns closely with our strategy of delivering what the consumer wants. Copper & Kings is scalable not only in equity, but also the inventory of aged and aging spirits on hand. We see our role as adding fuel to their fire. And we think it’s going to burn very bright.”

Constellation isn’t alone in seeing ample potential in American brandy. E.&J. Gallo is also on the move with its new Argonaut brand, which has launched a variety of upscale offerings on a limited basis over the past year. Gallo also recently acquired luxury California brandy producer Germain-Robin.

Meanwhile, Constellation’s stake in The Real McCoy gives it presence in the upscale rum segment. Under the deal, Constellation will take on distribution for The Real McCoy, whose founder and CEO Bailey Pryor, CMO Jennifer Pryor, COO John Esposito and master distiller Richard Seale will all stay in their roles. The Real McCoy is distilled in Barbados and includes 3-, 5- and 12-year rums aged in Bourbon barrels and retailing from about $20-$50 a bottle.

“This doesn’t change who we are or how we go to market,” said Esposito. “The collaboration with Constellation allows us to reach new consumers, expand distribution and grow brand awareness, all while maintaining the integrity of what The Real McCoy is all about.”

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