From Crop to Consumption

Constellation Brands makes minority investment in Rochester craft distiller Black Button Distilling

Constellation Brands has announced its acquired a minority stake in craft spirits maker Black Button Distilling.

The investment was made through Constellation’s venture capital group that identifies and invests in premium, emerging brands in categories that provide strong scalability, consumer appeal, and a unique niche or point of differentiation in the market. Black Button will continue to manage, produce, market and sell its high-performing, award-winning spirits such as its Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Citrus Forward Gin, seasonal Lilac Gin and Bespoke Bourbon Cream.

Black Button, the first grain-to-glass craft distillery in Rochester since Prohibition, was founded in 2012 by Jason Barrett, a fourth-generation entrepreneur. Less than two years later, Black Button Distilling opened a tasting room and retail store to the public, offering spirits tastings, distillery tours and craft cocktails. Every batch of Black Button’s world-class spirits is distilled from New York State grains and then aged, bottled and labelled in Rochester.

“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. This partnership is great for our employees, our ownership, our farmers and our consumers because we will be able to bring more great Black Button products to our community.”

Sales have more than tripled since 2014, and in 2017 Black Button expanded and opened a tasting room and bottle shop in Buffalo, N.Y. Black Button Distilling has won multiple awards including USA TODAY’s “10 Best Craft Distilleries,” the’s 2018 Silver Medal for its Straight Bourbon Whiskey in the Best Bourbon Category, and NASDAQ Stock Market’s 2016 list of “Next Great Consumer Brands.”

“As a company headquartered in the Greater Rochester region, we’re especially proud to make this investment in this local favourite,” said Constellation’s President and Chief Operating Officer, and incoming Chief Executive Officer Bill Newlands. “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. 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.”

Black Button Distilling’s spirits are currently distributed throughout New York State, in select markets in the Northeast and MidAtlantic, most notably New York, New Jersey, Maryland and DC and can also be found in regional on and off-premise accounts.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed