Brown-Forman buys Fords Gin

June 12, 2019
By Alana House

Brown-Forman has re-entered the gin category, acquiring New York-based The 86 Company, the owner of Fords Gin.

“Fords Gin is a unique brand with terrific momentum in one of the fastest growing categories in spirits,” said Brown-Forman CEO Lawson Whiting. “We look forward to building Fords Gin into another iconic brand in our portfolio.”

“Brown-Forman is a great partner to bring Fords Gin to more bartenders and consumers in the US and around the world while keeping our commitment to producing a unique, high quality, mixable gin,” said Simon Ford, co-founder, The 86 Company.

“We’re extremely thankful to all our supporters who have been championing the brand since the beginning and look forward to seeing what the future holds with our new collaborators.”

A mix of nine botanicals, Fords Gin starts with a traditional base of juniper and coriander seed balanced by citrus, florals, and spices. Steeped for 15 hours before distillation, the botanicals deliver an aromatic, fresh and floral spirit with elegant notes of jasmine and grapefruit.

Fords Gin was launched in 2012 to specifically target the cocktail sector. It’s a collaboration between Simon Ford and 8th generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers.

Simon Ford and The 86 Company team will remain a key part of the building and crafting of Fords Gin going forward.

The purchase will include the Fords Gin trademark and other assets of The 86 Company. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close within 30 days.

Drinks companies join the gin boom

Brown-Forman’s move into gin follows drinks companies including Treasury Wine Estates and Lion adding the spirit to their portfolios.

The 2018 IWSR Drinks Market Analysis Global Database also shows gin was the leading global growth category in 2018, up 8.3% versus 2017, and is forecast to reach 88million cases by 2023.

Squealing Pig Rose Gin

Treasury Wine Estates announced last week that it was launching Squealing Pig Rosé Gin.

TWE’s Deputy Chief Marketing Officer Angus Lilley said: “We know that many consumers, particularly millennials, are keen to explore new and unique beverages. Gin is so popular at the moment and Squealing Pig Rosé is growing by 67%; we’re proud of what we’ve achieved by combining these two powerful categories.”

Smith's Eden Valley Rock Gin

Meanwhile, the owners of the famed Yalumba winery, the Hill-Smith family, entered the gin business this week with the release of Smith’s Eden Valley Rock Gin.

In March, Lion announced it was investing in Four Pillars Gin, taking a 50% stake in the award-winning distillery.

Lion Managing Director James Brindley said: “The partnership with Four Pillars is really exciting for Lion, as we venture into new categories outside our core beer business.”

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