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Jack Daniel’s parent is buying a new spirit and it isn’t a whiskey

Brown-Forman announced it is purchasing Fords Gin and the other assets of The 86 Company. Fords Gin is made in England and is a classic London Dry Gin with a botanical twist.
Brown-Forman announced it is purchasing Fords Gin and the other assets of The 86 Company. Fords Gin is made in England and is a classic London Dry Gin with a botanical twist.

Brown-Forman announced Monday that the Louisville-based company is buying The 86 Company, which makes Fords Gin.

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

Gin is huge in Great Britain, where there are many gin festivals, and sales are picking up in the U.S. as well, particularly for better gins. Sales of highest priced super premium gins were up 15.6 percent last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. In 2018, there almost 10 million cases of U.S. gin were sold for almost $900 million.

But until now, Brown-Forman had no gin in its whiskey-heavy portfolio.

“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 of The 86 Company, which also markets Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Tequila Cabeza and Cana Brava Rum.

According to The 86 Company, Fords Gin is distilled in London at Thames Distillers, and is a collaboration between master distiller Charles Maxwell and Ford, using a mix of nine botanicals. It has a base of juniper and coriander seed, steeped for 15 hours with citrus, florals and spices to create a fresh, floral spirits ‘with elegant notes of orange blossom.” The brand has been marketed almost exclusively to bartenders.

Ford and The 86 Company team will remain part of the brand, according to the release; no purchase price was disclosed. The purchase is expected to close within 30 days.

Woodford Reserve master distiller Chris Morris and assistant master distiller Elizabeth McCall "rested" Kentucky honey in a barrel in the Twin Spires for 145 days. Now it is ready for the $1,000 Woodford Reserve Mint Juleps served at Kentucky Derby.

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