Constellation Brands makes minority investment in craft distiller Black Button

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Constellation has made several investments in craft beer and craft spirits. Stock picture: getty/larisablinova
Constellation has made several investments in craft beer and craft spirits. Stock picture: getty/larisablinova

Related tags: Constellation brands, spirits, craft spirits

Beer, wine and spirits giant Constellation Brands has acquired a minority stake in US craft spirits company Black Button Distilling.

Black Button was founded in 2012 in Rochester, NY, by Jason Barrett, a fourth generation entrepreneur. It produces 115,000 bottles of spirits every year, with distribution across 11 states in the US and Japan.  

Its sales have more than tripled since 2014, winning awards such as USA Today’s ’10 best craft distilleries’ and NASDAQ Stock Market’s 2016 list of ‘Next great consumer brands’.

Constellation Brands made the investment though its venture capital group: a division that identifies and invests in premium, emerging brands. Constellation has made several craft acquisitions in the US recent years: including whiskey brand High West Distillery​ and brewers Ballast Point​, Funky Buddha Brewery​ ​and Four Corners Brewing.​  

Local partnership

Black Button’s spirits are distilled from New York State grains, and then aged, bottled and labeled in Rochester. It prides itself on using natural ingredients from local farms (over 90% of ingredients are grown or produced in New York State).

The company was the first grain-to-glass craft distillery in Rochester since Prohibition, and now has a tasting room and retail store offering spirits tastings, distillery tours and craft cocktails.

Black Button – which is behind spirits such as Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Citrus Forward Gin, seasonal Lilac Gin and Bespoke Bourbon Cream - will continue to manage, produce, market and sell its spirits. At the moment these are distributed throughout New York State, in select markets in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic (most notably New York, New Jersey, Maryland and DC).

Jason Barrett, founder, said the company needed to find an equity partner in order to grow at the rate it believes it is capable of.

“We found a 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.”

Constellation Brands is based in Victor, NY, with a portfolio of more than 100 brands. These include beer brands Corona and Modelo Especial; wine brands Meiomi and Mark West; and premium spirits Svedka Vodka and Casa Noble Tequila. 

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