06.29.18 | Brands

Constellation Grows Spirits Business with Minority Investment in Old Line Spirits

Constellation Brands took an exciting step in reaching its goal to grow its spirits business with a minority investment in Baltimore-based Old Line Spirits, a craft distillery producing American single malt whiskeys and a line-up of aged Caribbean rums.

Old Line was founded by friends and Navy veterans Mark McLaughlin and Arch Watkins. Their shared love of whiskey and, at the time, a dearth of craft distilleries in Maryland led them to their true calling: starting their own distillery. You can read their full story here.

In February 2017, Old Line Spirits opened its distillery doors to the public in the Highlandtown neighborhood in Baltimore. Since then, it has grown bigger by adding more barrels, installing a brand new still system, and, most recently, opening The Ready Room – Baltimore’s first full beer, wine and spirits cocktail bar in a distillery.

Mark and Arch believe they make some of the best single malt whiskey in America and wanted to be able to grow their business and share it beyond the Baltimore area. After careful consideration – which included initial meetings and spending time to get to know the Constellation Ventures team – they partnered with Constellation Brands to expand the reach of their brand.

“The spirits market is rapidly changing and extremely competitive,” said McLaughlin. “It is no longer enough to simply have great product in the bottle and a strong brand identity. You have to have a deep understanding of the spirits industry, from craft spirits all the way up to major brands. We’ve gotten to know the Constellation team very well over the past year and we’ve been impressed with how well they know the market at all levels. We’re confident that with their help we can accelerate our growth while maintaining our commitments to quality and to growing our business here in Baltimore.”

For Constellation, the investment in Old Line Spirits is in line with its ventures strategy of investing in emerging, unique and distinctive brands.

“We have a goal to broaden our portfolio of premium spirits, and as we continue to invest in the high-end craft whiskey segment, we are excited to collaborate with dedicated distillers like Mark and Arch,” said Constellation Brands’ President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Newlands. “Their flagship American Single Malt Whiskey represents white space for our portfolio and provides us with deeper knowledge of this emerging category.”

Old Line Spirits’ American Single Malt Whiskey is made entirely of barley that is grown and malted in the Pacific Northwest, distilled in copper stills and then aged in new, charred American white oak casks, resulting in a whiskey with old world roots but a distinctly American character. Old Line’s portfolio also includes a proprietary blend of Aged Caribbean Rum – a “whiskey drinker’s rum” that is rich in flavor but slightly less sweet than many other rums. It is well-rounded and complex, having been aged for at least seven years in used bourbon casks in the Dominican Republic.