Coors Is Officially in the Bourbon Business

The beer brand's distilling wing follows up its blended whiskey with Barmen 1873 Kentucky-made bourbon.

Barmen 1873 bourbon by Coors Whiskey Co.

Courtesy of Coors Whiskey Co.

David Coors, a fifth-generation member of the Colorado family whose name has been printed on beer labels for 150 years, suggested that the company expand into spirits several decades ago. "When I first brought this up [to my father, Pete Coors], he shot me down and told me that 'we're good at making one thing, and that’s beer' and that was the end of the conversation," he said. "But times change."

Times have changed. Coors Whiskey Co., a subsidiary of Molson Coors, released its first-ever whiskey in 2021, and it has just announced the arrival of its first bourbon. Barmen 1873 hit shelves on April 3, and will be available in 13 states: Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and, of course, Colorado.

Barmen 1873 is a blend of straight bourbon whiskies that were proofed with "Kentucky water" and also bottled in the Bluegrass State. According to the company, the bourbon tastes of "caramel, vanilla, grilled peach, raisin, apple, traces of coffee and dark chocolate" and finishes with a hint of ginger, cinnamon, and "baking spice." Each bottle will retail for between $39.99 and $42.99.

"We’re meticulous about quality, and Barmen 1873 reflects the care we put into each one of our blends," David Coors, now the Vice President of Next Generation Beverages at Molson Coors, said. "Barmen plays in the space of sweet on the front and a long, lingering spice finish on the end, and it’s available at an approachable price point for bourbon fans."

According to Food Dive the majority of MolsonCoors’ sales come from its portfolio of beer brands — including Blue Moon, Coors, and Miller Lite — but it has also been making a dedicated push into other categories, including distilled spirits. In 2021, Coors Whiskey Co. released Five Trail Blended American Whiskey, a blend of Colorado single-malt whiskey; a 13-year Kentucky bourbon; and three four-year whiskeys from Colorado, Kentucky, and Indiana. Coors partnered with Kentucky’s Bardstown Bourbon Company to distill, blend, and bottle the whiskey.

"As soon as we established the Next Generation Beverages Division in 2019, I knew one of our first products had to be a whiskey," David Coors said at the time of its launch. "Malted grain is essential to whiskey’s production and there were a number of distillers that were already using our malts in their expressions. We’re extremely proud of the blend we created, marrying Colorado provenance with the craft and skill of some of Kentucky’s and Indiana’s most renowned distillers."

Five Trail went on to win a Double Gold award at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and there are undoubtedly high hopes for Barmen 1873, too. We won’t say that Pete Coors was wrong, but it sounds like the company might be pretty good at making more than just one thing.

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