Happy Trails to High West

The latest local, artisan product to bend to greed and go corporate is High West Distillery in Park City.


Remember how proud we were of the first local distiller since 1870?

Well, pard, HW, has been gobbled up by a faceless corporation, like Utah Brewers Cooperative ( bought by Boston-based private-equity firm Fireman Capital Partners).

[CORRECTION, see comments] Epic Brewing has opened a brewery in Denver but has kept its headquarters in SLC.

High West will continue to operate in Park City as it always has under its new overlords.

Dave Perkins has sold out (the sale will close the end of October) to Constellation Brands, Inc., “a leading beverage alcohol company.” According to the press release, Constellation is expanding its “portfolio into booming craft spirits category with high-end whiskey.” 

Of course, “corporate-owned craft spirit” is one of those oxymorons that corporate marketing departments specialize in. Like “Trump” and “gentleman.” Constellation acquired craft beer brewer Ballast Point last year to add to its national non-craft brands that include Corona and SVEDKA Vodka.

Constellation’s release didn’t waste time discussing what High West tastes like or that it has yet to produce its own whiskey—but instead blends out-of-state spirits. The announcement went straight to the important stuff: “With High West, which has experienced double-digit volume growth year over year for the past three years, Constellation Brands enters the dynamic and profitable high-end craft whiskey segment.”

Here’s the “narrative” (every brand needs a compelling backstory) that Constellation will continue: Perkins had a vision to make “delicious whiskey that celebrates the history and heritage of America’s Old West.”


And the Constellation pitch sounds like it’s right out of a Mad Men-created Marlboro ad (we’re not making this up):

With a taste of the Old West and labels to match, consumers experience stories of cowboys, campfires, prairies and Utah history in every bottle.”

What can we say but, Round ’em up, head ’em out! Rawhide!


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