Beam Suntory buys RTD cocktail brand On The Rocks

Maker’s Mark owner Beam Suntory has acquired pre-mixed cocktail company On The Rocks for an undisclosed sum.

Beam Suntory had previously partnered with On The Rocks (OTR) in March 2018 on the creation of ready-to-drink (RTD) serves using the firm’s spirits portfolio. The drinks group, producer of brands such as Jim Beam Bourbon and Courvoisier Cognac, owned a minority stake in OTR.

“On The Rocks is the pioneer in the premium pre-mixed cocktails category, and joining forces couldn’t come at a better time,” said Albert Baladi, president and CEO of Beam Suntory.

“On The Rocks is perfectly positioned to address evolving consumer preferences, including convenience, quality, the emerging home-premise, and cocktails-to-go.

“We have an ambition to become number one in the spirits-based ready-to-drink market, and On The Rocks will be a key growth platform that we’ll build along with our fast-growing pre-mixed highball products. We see tremendous opportunity to expand the OTR brand to new occasions, formats, cocktail recipes, and the low-ABV space.”

Beam Suntory said the spirits-based RTD category is one of the fastest-growing segments of the RTD market in the US. On The Rocks’ sales doubled in the first six months of 2020. The bottled cocktail brand is available in the US and Canada.

Founded in 2015, OTR is the brainchild of entrepreneur and restauranteur Patrick Halbert and bartender Rocco Milano. After experimenting with spirits in a garage, Halbert and Milano began to develop and bottle premium cocktails with all-natural ingredients. The founders will remain in leading roles following the purchase.

“On The Rocks is extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished and the leadership position we’ve built in this rapidly growing sector over the last five years,” said Halbert.

“We are thrilled to join the Beam Suntory family, its world-class portfolio of premium brands, and its tremendous people. With our combined expertise in delivering quality and premium products, we’re confident that this is just the beginning as we pursue market leadership and delight consumers with high-quality premium cocktails in convenient formats.”

The OTR collection of bottled cocktails includes an Old Fashioned with Knob Creek Bourbon, a Margarita with Hornitos Tequila, a Cosmopolitan with Effen Vodka, a Jalapeño Pineapple Margarita with Tres Generaciones Tequila, an Aviation with Larios gin and a Mai Tai with Cruzan Rum.

RTDs are forecast to remain the fastest-growing category over the next five years, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

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Author: Nicola Carruthers

Timothy Kelly

Tim is the Founder & Master Distiller at Felene. He developed his passion for the spirits and hospitality business while growing-up and working in his family's restaurant and liquor store business. Tim’s passion for the epicurean lifestyle has found it’s latest manifestation in the Felene Distillery. Tim is a 5-time Gold Medal Award winning Distiller. He has won a Platinum medal at the Prestigious Los Angeles Spirits Awards and his signature vodka was named Best-in-Category by the American Distilling Institute. Mr. Kelly is also a prolific author and writer and his blog is filled with ideas, discoveries, observations and recommendations to help his readers enjoy life’s simple epicurean pleasures.

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