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Proper No. Twelve Off To A Fast Start In Thriving Irish Whiskey Category

August 11, 2020

Proper No. Twelve, owned by Conor McGregor’s Eire Born Spirits and Proximo, launched less than two years ago, but the brand has already carved out a following in the fast-rising Irish whiskey category.

Proper No. Twelve ($25 a 750-ml.) reached 124,000 cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank, and its expansion has continued in 2020, according to co-founder Ken Austin.

With Proper No. Twelve in expansion mode, Proximo parent company Grupo Cuervo upped its stake in the brand from 20% to 49% in April, in a deal worth about $69 million. Alongside Bushmills and The Sexton, Proper No. Twelve has provided another source of momentum for Proximo in one of the fastest-growing areas of the spirits market.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Proper No. Twelve has looked to emphasize at-home consumption in its marketing. “It’s been continuing to build, our reorder rates are off the charts, and the brand has really become a consumer favorite in a very short period of time,” Austin tells SND. “We’ve seen a huge surge in our 1.75-liter size, which we brought out not too long ago. We do a lot on social media, and our pivot has been much more about staying at home, making cocktails.”

Austin expects the at-home mixology trend to continue and says the brand is focused on increasing distribution for its 1.75-liter variant in key markets. “We have work to do, but the upside on that size is great,” he notes, and McGregor is contributing to the effort with mixology tips of his own, including a recent creation featuring Proper No. Twelve and orange soda. The mixed martial arts star has also played an active role in helping the brand build relationships with retailers and distributors, Austin says.

Prior to Proper No. Twelve, Austin co-founded Avión Tequila, which eventually was sold to Pernod Ricard for an undisclosed sum. As he continues to stoke growth for Eire Born Spirits, he also has another Tequila play hitting the market—the Teremana brand, which recently launched in partnership with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.—Shane English

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