Diageo has acquired the Australian premium cold brew coffee liqueur brand, Mr Black, which was launched in 2013 by designer Tom Baker and award-winning distiller Philip Moore.

Since its launch Mr Black has gone on to become the leading premium-priced coffee liqueur in the United States, helping to drive consumer desire for coffee cocktails such as the Espresso Martini and Coffee Old Fashioned.

Mr Black is now the fourth brand to exit Distill Ventures and join the Diageo portfolio and the first Australian brand, a move which Diageo Australia Managing Director Angus McPherson said was “hugely exciting”.

McPherson added: “In another example of the Australian spirits industry showing its potential for exponential growth and as a leading export category for the Australian economy, Mr Black, from its NSW Central Coast home, has grown to become not only an Australian bar staple, but also the United States’ leading premium-priced coffee liqueur.

“The Australian spirits industry is so dynamic right now. Not only have we seen Australian distilleries grow from just 28 to more than 400 since 2014, but we’re also seeing Australian spirits brands receive widespread international acclaim and expansion of Australian spirits in overseas markets.”

In 2015, Diageo acquired a minority stake in Mr Black through Distill Ventures, the Diageo-backed accelerator program. Distill Ventures receives funding from Diageo and works with the company to support entrepreneurs as they launch and grow innovative drinks brands.

Frank Lampen, CEO and Co-founder, Distill Ventures said: “It was love at first taste with Mr Black, and Tom Baker is one of the most intuitive brand builders we’ve had the pleasure of working with. We’re proud to have helped him and his team turn those solid foundations into a commercial success globally and especially in the US.”

Claudia Schubert, President, U.S. Spirits and Canada, Diageo added: “With its award-winning liquid, eye-catching design and packaging, and ability to thrive in culture, we believe Mr Black is just getting started in the dynamic coffee liqueur segment. This acquisition is in line with our strategy to acquire high growth brands in exciting categories, and we are delighted to welcome Mr Black into our portfolio.”

Baker, will remain actively involved with Mr Black and said he was looking forward to working with the Diageo team to build on Mr Black’s success.

“Coffee is more than just a drink – it’s a culture, ritual, obsession, aesthetic, experience, tradition and a community,” Baker said.

“We created Mr Black to embody that culture and inspire people to take their love of coffee into their evening drinks. Diageo understood our vision early on and now, after several years with them as a supporter, we are thrilled to be joining the Diageo family.”

Mr Black is currently available in 22 countries and Diageo said the acquisition has been funded through existing cash resources.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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