Exclusive: Gallo Enters The Bourbon Category, Investing In Horse Soldier BrandJuly 26, 2022
Spirit of Gallo, the spirits arm of E.&J. Gallo, has invested in Horse Soldier Bourbon, bringing the wine and spirits giant into the burgeoning American whiskey market. Financial terms weren’t disclosed but the company said it was making a “strategic investment” in Horse Soldier and that it would begin distributing the brand immediately.
Horse Soldier, named for the horseback Green Berets who began U.S. military operations in Afghanistan following 9/11, has been around since 2016, and was created by a team that included horse soldiers from the 5th Special Forces Group. Currently, Horse Soldier’s portfolio is available in 17 U.S. markets. The range includes a Straight Bourbon (retailing around $50), Small Batch Bourbon ($70), and Barrel Strength Bourbon ($80).
In an interview with SND, Spirit of Gallo vice president and general manager Britt West said Horse Soldier is the fastest-growing brand in its competitive set. “In the last 16 weeks, they have 97% growth in IRI. And if we can continue to fuel and help them with supply, we believe that we can quickly scale this into a very significant player in the Bourbon category,” he said.
John Koko, CEO and chairman of Horse Soldier, said in a statement that aligning with Gallo “positions us for unprecedented growth and preserves our legacy through the best-in-class capabilities and commitment that the entire Spirit of Gallo organization brings to consumers across the country.”
Horse Soldier’s pricing places it firmly in the upscale segment of the market, which outperformed the wider American whiskey category last year; in 2021, American whiskies priced at $25 and above neared 10 million cases in the U.S., roughly doubling in size since 2015, according to Impact Databank.
“Horse Soldier has a clearly identifiable target consumer,” West adds. “That’s one of the challenges in the ultra-premium space—a lot of the ultra-premium Bourbons are all going after the same consumer, whereas Horse Soldier has a different consumer. I always look for brands that have a real emotional resonance, and Horse Soldier, when they do a bottle signing, it’s not uncommon for them to show up and find a two-hour line of people standing around the block.”
While the brand will initially face supply constraints, it broke ground last fall on a new 225-acre distillery and consumer experience in Somerset, Kentucky, called Horse Soldier Farms. That site, whose development will also be accelerated via the tie-up with Gallo, is slated to become a new southern anchor on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, with capacity to host 1.2 million visitors annually.—Shane English & Daniel MarstellerSubscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.