A popular indie spirits company is no longer indie. On Monday (6.10), the behemoth Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE:BFA, BFB) announced an agreement to acquire The 86 Company and add their marquis, Fords Gin, to the BF range.
“Fords Gin is a unique brand with terrific momentum in one of the fastest growing categories in spirits,” said Lawson Whiting, President and CEO, Brown-Forman in a statement. “We look forward to building Fords Gin into another iconic brand in our portfolio.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, BF stressed that founder Simon Ford will not be, er, 86’d. Both Ford and his team will stay onboard according to a statement to investors.
“Brown-Forman is a great partner to bring Fords Gin to more bartenders and consumers in the U.S. 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.”
Founded in 2012, 86 Co was hailed as a bartender-facing brand. The concept was hatched over drinks by Ford and former Absolut US marketing director Malte Barnekow at Employees Only. The pair then added EO co-founders Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas to the crew along with sales pro Kris Roth.
The house’s range (packaged in very cool, industry focused bottles) included Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Cana Brava Rum, Tequila Cabeza, and the gin at its peak. However, last year, Ford unveiled his plan to focus on the gin and phase out the other spirits.
Brown-Forman is an industry giant best known as the parent company of Jack Daniels. The almost 150-year-old corporation also owns a host of whiskeys including Woodford Reserve and Old Forester as well as spirits including Herradura, el Jimador, and Finlandia. Yet, their portfolio lacked a serious gin offering—until now.