Joe Heron with his products | Photo by Steve Coomes

International beer, wine and spirits company Constellation Brands must have a special place in its heart for Louisville, Ky.

The company, which owns brands like Corona, Robert Mondavi and Svedka Imported Vodka, offered to purchase Louisville-based Brown-Forman last year, but the local liquor giant gave Constellation Brands the Heisman.

However, Constellation Brands found another Louisville spirits company to invest in — Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. The distillery, founded by Joe and Lesley Heron, has sold a minority equity stake to Constellation Brands, it announced in a news release on Friday.

“In all honesty there could not be a better fit between a small craft distiller and a leader in the beverage alcohol industry like Constellation Brands,” Joe Heron said in the release. “There are not only significant synergies in supply chain but also a shared culture of entrepreneurship and most importantly an overlapping culture of innovation and social responsibility. There’s great personal chemistry, excellent complementary product portfolios. And a mutual love of rock & roll.”

Copper & Kings American Brandy Co. is now partly owned by Constellation Brands. | Courtesy of Copper & Kings

Copper & Kings declined to say how much of a stake Constellation Brands purchased and how much it will invest in Copper & Kings, but it’s safe to say that the local company will be able to grow exponentially.

“Copper & Kings has a fiercely independent streak,” Constellation Brands’ executive vice president and COO Bill Newlands said in the release. “Their entrepreneurship and focus on premium high-end craft spirits aligns closely with our strategy of delivering what the consumer wants. Copper & Kings is scalable not only in equity but also the inventory of aged and aging spirits on hand. We see our role as adding fuel to their fire. And we think it’s going to burn very bright.”

Since opening in 2014, the spirits distilled by Copper & Kings has continued to expand into new markets, and the company has expanded its offerings. Its products currently are available in 31 markets in the United States and include a variety of gins, brandies and absinthes.

“We are going to need additional gas in the tank to keep up with the growth we are now encountering as a brand, and for the brandy category in general. Brown spirits have a very long-term planning horizon; 10 years or more out. Constellation’s investment will help us move forward with appropriate capital,” Heron said in the release.

Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]


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