Hard Liquor’s A Gonna Fall

The announcement last week that Bob Dylan was getting into the spirits game with a collection of premium whiskeys is just the latest in a raft of deals pairing musicians with wine, beer, and liquor marketers. More than a half dozen agreements announced this year so far illustrate the wide variety of music genres, business models, and alcoholic beverage categories involved in this trend:

  • Dylan paired with Spirits Investment Partnership for an assortment of high-end American craft whiskeys under the Heaven’s Door Spirits label, with the initial three offerings being straight Tennessee bourbon, double-barrel whiskey, and straight rye whiskey finished in a cigar barrel. The agreement is billed as Dylan’s first-ever brand partnership.
  • Def Leppard announced it would create a limited-edition pale ale with Elysian Brewing Company, available during the group’s 2018 tour with the band Journey.
  • Lenny Kravitz alerted his fans via social media that he was joining Moët Hennessy’s Dom Pérignon, serving as creative director, photographer, and designer for the champagne brand.
  • Country singer John Rich launched Redneck Riviera Whiskey with Eastside Distilling, starting with an American blended whiskey.
  • Mötorhead entered the U.S. market with its Röad Crew beer through a manufacturing and distribution agreement with Arcadia Brewing Company. The product has been available since 2015 in the U.K. market with master licensee Camerons, which has expanded the brew’s reach into 22 countries to date.
  • Zac Brown teamed with winemaker John Killebrew, first for a chardonnay in January and then for a sauvignon blanc in March, both under the Z. Alexander Brown label and both promoting the singer’s Uncaged album.
  • Iron Maiden paired with Robinsons for a golden English ale available in the U.K. called Light Brigade, for which proceeds go to the Help for Heroes charity.

These recent examples closely mirror the broader landscape of musician-inspired alcoholic beverages, a market that has become crowded over the past five years with acts covering all genres of music and products crossing all segments of the beverage industry.

Some of the other musicians that have lent their names to alcohol varieties include country singers such as Florida Georgia Line (whiskey), Blake Shelton (vodka), Kenny Chesney (rum), Toby Keith (mezcal), Darius Rucker (whiskey), Willie Nelson (bourbon), and George Strait (tequila); rappers and hip-hop artists such as Drake (whiskey), Jay-Z (cognac), Xzibit (tequila), Ludacris (cognac), and Fergie (wine); rockers such as Adam Levine and Sammy Hagar (a tequila and mezcal blend), Hagar alone (rum and tequila), Billy Gibbons (tequila), Maynard James Keenan (wine), Vince Neil (vodka and tequila), and Marilyn Manson (absinthe); and R&B and pop acts such as Hanson (pale ale), Justin Timberlake (tequila), and Ginuwine (vodka-spiked chocolate milk).

Despite the long list of existing deals—this array represents just a taste of the products that have reached store shelves to date—the pace of deal-making does not seem to be slowing down.

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