USA – Constellation Brands has announced that it has acquired majority stake in Tennessee whisky producer Nelson’s Green Brier™ Distillery through its venture capital group.

The investment, whose price has not been disclosed marks the company’s first ventures investment to be fully integrated into the business.

As part of the agreement, Nelson’s Green Brier will continue to operate with its existing management team led by Andy and Charlie Nelson, and its employees running the day-to-day operations.

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery produces Tennessee whiskey and other spirits under the Belle Meade™ Bourbon brand.

Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the craft distillery was co-founded by brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson and began operating a distillery in 2014.

“Our family distillery was one of the largest producers of whiskey and spirits in the country prior to Prohibition,” said Charlie Nelson.

“Ever since we revived the company, our dream has been to return the Nelson’s Green Brier profile to the national, and even international, marketplace.

“The relationship we’ve enjoyed over the past several years with Constellation has made it clear they’re the ideal partners to help us achieve the kind of growth we’ve been moving toward all along, while honoring the principles our customers have come to appreciate.”

Constellation Brands made an initial minority investment in Nelson’s Green Brier in 2016 through its venture capital group.

The company said an additional investment in the distillery further solidifies its higher-end spirits portfolio, with a focus on two of the top trends in the spirits category – craft and whiskey.

“Our ventures group was created to identify up-and-coming brands, and we’re excited about one of our first ventures investments being folded into our portfolio,” said Constellation’s President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Newlands.

“Whiskey is a red-hot category, and Tennessee whiskey fills a white space for us.

“Once integrated into our wine and spirits division and benefitting from our market reach, distributor partnerships and consumer insights, we see Nelson’s Green Brier scaling even further in the next few years.”

The investment was second for the Constellation Ventures, the company’s corporate venture capital function, focused on identifying smaller-scale investment opportunities related to innovative concepts and emerging categories within beverage alcohol.

Constellation Ventures made its inaugural minority stake investment in August 2015 with Crafthouse Cocktails, a producer of authentic, ready-to-drink, super-premium spirit-based cocktails created by the well-known Chicago mixologist, Charles Joly.

Earlier this year, Constellation Brands acquired minority stake in US-based Black Button Distilling, expanding its premium spirits range.