Pabst Moves Into Spirits with Launch of Not Your Father’s Bourbon

In a move toward diversifying its portfolio and reaching spirits consumers, Pabst Brewing Company today announced a foray into the crafts spirits space with the launch of Not Your Father’s Bourbon.

The 86 proof (43 percent ABV), small-batch bourbon is the first product to be launched in a new line of spirits under the Not Your Father’s label, which includes the popular Not Your Father’s Root Beer flavored malt beverage as well as hard vanilla cream and ginger ale offerings, among others.

A spokeswoman working on behalf of Pabst’s Small Town division told Brewbound that the company has signed a licensing agreement with Chicago’s Innovative Wine & Spirits to market, sell and distribute the bourbon. Brewbound has also learned that the whiskey is being produced in Monroe, Wisconsin, at the Minhas Distillery, which provides private and custom label distilling.

“As a brand that has been embraced by many consumers outside of the beer category, this is an exciting partnership that will help us push the envelope, continue to reach our consumers on their turf, and create added awareness for all Not Your Father’s family of products,” Gleb Lifshits, vice president of marketing for Pabst’s Small Town Brewery division, said in an email to Brewbound.

Tim Kovac, who founded Small Town Brewery in 2010, was not involved in the creation of the bourbon, the spokeswoman told Brewbound. In an email, she wrote that the company worked with craft distillers from across the country to create the “authentic and traditional bourbon with a twist.”

That twist? “A touch of Madagascar vanilla,” according to a press release.

Not Your Father’s Bourbon is currently available in 750 ml bottles in Wisconsin and Illinois for the suggested retail price of $29.99. Pabst, via the Innovative Wine & Spirits licensing arrangement, plans to launch the product, which is being marketed to seasoned bourbon drinkers as well as novices, nationwide during the first quarter of 2018.

Nevertheless, Pabst continues to maintain a conspicuous distance from its Small Town offering. Although the Small Town Craft Spirits website includes no mention of Pabst Brewing Co.’s involvement in the product, a California privacy policy directs consumers to the address of Pabst’s Los Angeles headquarters.

So why is Pabst entering the craft spirits space? A Pabst spokesperson told Brewbound that the company is hoping to continue capitalizing on Small Town’s ability to cross alcohol categories and bring new drinkers into the beer category, through its sweeter and non-traditional beer flavors. By launching a bourbon made with “a touch of Madagascar vanilla,” the company can reach spirits drinkers with a unique but more familiar product offering, the spokesperson said.

The move into spirits comes at a time when the beer industry has ceded 35 million barrels — or 11 billion servings of beer — to wine and spirits over the last 20 years, according to Heineken USA CEO Ronald den Elzen, who spoke at last month’s National Beer Wholesalers Association Convention in Las Vegas. In fact, beer’s so-called “share of throat,” compared to wine and spirits, has eroded from 62 percent to “a mere 50 percent” during that same period.

It also comes as other brewery competitors are paying closer attention to the spirits category as a possible profit center. In July, Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns 10 craft U.S. craft beer companies, applied for an Oregon distillery license via its 10 Barrel Brewing brand. Virginia’s Devils Backbone, also owned by A-B InBev, has expressed a similar desire to build a distillery. Other craft breweries, including Delaware’s Dogfish Head, Texas’ Deep Ellum and Oregon’s Rogue Ales & Spirits, among others, already make and market spirits lines.

In a press release, Pabst, citing data from market research firm IRI Worldwide, said it “saw an opportunity to break ground” in the 85+ proof bourbon segment, which the company said has grown 12 percent during the 13 weeks ending October 1 compared to the same period last year.

“As an industry pioneer, Not Your Father’s has always been at the forefront of creating, not following, trends — and with Not Your Father’s Bourbon, we look forward to continued category success,” Lifshits wrote to Brewbound.

This isn’t the first time Pabst has flirted with the spirits category, however. Last October, Small Town formed a fall promotional partnership with Jägermeister, an herbal liqueur made with 56 natural herbs, blossoms, roots, and fruits.

Over the last year, Pabst has launched several Not Your Father’s line extensions. In March, the company released a Not Your Mom’s line extension that included Apple Pie, Strawberry Rhubarb and Ice Tea flavored alcoholic beverages. In July, the company added Not Your Father’s Mountain Ale, a 5 percent ABV citrus-flavored brew. And in October, the company filed a label approval for Not Your Father’s Fruit Punch with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Many of those products have been produced on a contract basis a City Brewing Company’s facilities in Wisconsin, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. And in 2016, Pabst partnered with Wisconsin Brewing Company to produce a higher-strength version of Not Your Father’s Root Beer (10.7 percent ABV).

A press release with more details is included below.

The Makers of ‘‘Not Your Father’s Root Beer” Debut New Bourbon from Small Town Craft Spirits

Small Batch Bourbon with A Hint of Vanilla Now Available

(November 14, 2017 – Los Angeles, CA) – Small Town Craft Spirits announced today the launch of Not Your Father’s Bourbon, the first in a new line of spirits for the spirits company. The innovative company is putting an exciting spin on the centuries-old spirit for a new generation of whiskey drinkers and cocktail connoisseurs. Crafted for veteran and novice bourbon drinkers alike, Not Your Father’s Bourbon is an 86 proof (43% ABV), small batch bourbon with a hint of vanilla for a subtly sweet taste. Small Town Craft Spirits is from the makers of Small Town Brewery, pioneer of the flavored craft category with fan-favorite, Not Your Father’s Root Beer.

With more than 12% percent1 growth in the 85+ proof bourbon sector, Small Town Craft Spirits saw an opportunity to break ground in this category with a unique and accessible flavor profile that stands out from competitive brands. The distinctive blend of ingredients combined with the brand’s smooth finish creates a spirit that is far from ordinary. Small Town Craft Spirits is excited to offer a bourbon at an affordable price point with top-shelf taste that can be enjoyed during any occasion – from relaxing at home to celebrating a night out with friends.

The folks at Small Town Craft Spirits celebrate the rich history and heritage behind bourbon, but are excited to launch an option with a unique flavor twist and finish, different from what is expected. While most flavored whiskeys taste more like the flavor than the whiskey, Not Your Father’s believes that the whiskey is the most important part. A touch of Madagascar vanilla is added to enhance the flavor, not mask it.

Created to be approachable for all spirits drinkers, Not Your Father’s Bourbon appeals to those who want to savor the traditional taste of bourbon, on the rocks, as well as to those who prefer to enjoy their bourbon in a mixed drink. Try mixing it with Not Your Father’s Root Beer for an indulgent cocktail that’s hard to refuse.

Not Your Father’s Bourbon comes in 750 ml bottles and is available in Illinois and Wisconsin with plans to launch nationwide by the first quarter of 2018.

About Small Town Craft Spirits

Small Town Craft Spirits internalizes small town American values – passion, pride, and ingenuity – and incorporates them into every aspect of its distillation. From the makers of Small Town Brewery, pioneer of the flavored craft category with fan-favorite, Not Your Father’s Root Beer, Small Town Craft Spirits prides itself on distilling with a special blend of ingredients that have laid the foundation for Not Your Father’s uniquely flavored products. For more information about Not Your Father’s Bourbon, check out www.smalltowncraftspirits.com.

IRI Total US, latest 13 weeks ending October 1, 2017 vs. same period last year

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