Constellation takes minority stake in NY distiller

Constellation Brands has acquired a minority stake in craft spirits producer Black Button Distilling, based in Rochester, New York.

Black Button was founded in 2012 by Jason Barrett. Every batch of Black Button’s spirits are distilled from New York State grains, and then aged, bottled and labeled in Rochester, with sales more than tripling since 2014.

Its facility in Rochester now also includes a tasting room and retail store open to the public, offering spirits tastings, distillery tours and craft cocktails.

“For us to continue the growth rate we believe we are capable of, it was time to find an equity partner. But we didn’t want just any equity partner. We wanted someone who understood our business, our culture and our goals,” said Barrett.

“We found that partner right in our back yard. Constellation shares our love of Western NY and they are also committed to the agricultural roots that are so important to Black Button.”

The minority investment by Constellation was made through Constellation’s venture capital group, which identifies and invests in premium, emerging brands. Black Button will continue to manage, produce, market and sell its range of spirits, which include its Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Citrus Forward Gin, seasonal Lilac Gin and Bespoke Bourbon Cream.

“Black Button has a proven track record of producing premium craft spirits that resonate with consumers and they have a variety of products that are aligned to consumer trends and fill white space within Constellation’s spirits portfolio,” said Constellation’s president and chief operating officer, and incoming chief executive officer Bill Newlands.

“With our shared knowledge, experience and guidance, we will work together to help Black Button grow and expand the brands that craft spirits enthusiasts have come to know and love.”

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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