Constellation Brands makes minority investment in Black Button Distilling

Feb 5, 2019
Originally published on February 5, 2019 3:02 pm

A local craft spirits business is getting an infusion of cash from a very large alcohol beverage company, which also has roots in the Rochester area.

Black Button Distilling, which was founded in 2012 by Jason Barrett, will be getting an investment from Victor-based Constellation Brands.

Constellation says part of its growth strategy is making investments in emerging areas, and it’s pleased to be making an investment in a local business.

Barrett says Black Button, which is located near the Public Market in Rochester, will continue to manage and run the business, but this minority stake taken by Constellation Brands will help them do a number of things, including purchase more equipment.

“We’ve already got some of that on order, that should increase our capacity by about 30 percent right now, and we’ll continue to increase that capacity as we go along. It’s going to mean more sales reps, we’re going to double the size of our sales team and double the size of our marketing team; it’s going to mean more opportunities for our current employees, some of the tools that they need to do their jobs,” Barrett told WXXI News.

Barrett says that Black Button Distilling now employs 88 people and he’s hoping to double that number within 18 months.

He says his company did talk to some other potential venture capital partners, but discovered that Constellation Brands was the best fit.

“They’re fellow Western New Yorkers, they get what we’re about and why we’re so proud of Western New York and how we like to go to market and that resonates a lot with how they like to go to market, so I couldn’t be more excited that it’s somebody that’s not just far flung, but right here around the corner."

Barrett and his team will continue to run Black Button distilling, and he emphasizes that it is a partnership and not a buyout; he says all decisions will continue to come from him and his managers. Barrett says that Constellation will provide expertise that will be useful as the local distiller continues to grow.