Top 10 Black-owned spirits brandsBy Alice Brooker
We’ve uncovered a snapshot of the vast range of high-quality, standout Black-owned spirits available on the market, from those that have partnered with celebrities, to the smaller, independent brands.
Spreading awareness of Black-owned spirits brands is critical to their success, and contributes to increasing equity amongst them. With conscious consumerism on the rise according to Bev Alc Insights by e-commerce platform Drizly, growth for both new and existing Black-owned brands is a welcome development.
We’ve rounded up the Black-owned brands that are performing exceptionally well, have stolen the headlines, or are simply ones to keep an eye on, be it for their ambitious plans or their commitment to pushing positive change in the industry.
Scroll below to reveal the 10 Black-owned spirits that made our list.
1. Anteel Tequila
Nayana Ferguson is considered to be the world’s first Black woman to co-own a Tequila company, having founded Anteel with her husband, Don Ferguson, in Metro Detroit, Michigan.
Nayana created Anteel after she looked for ‘healthier spirit options’, but did not find any.
She kicked off the brand’s launches with a coconut lime blanco Tequila.
Anteel Tequila is now available at select stores in California, Florida, Texas, Michigan, New York, Georgia, and Colorado.
“Tequila has become very personal to me,” said Nayana on the brand’s website. “As a pancreatic cancer and breast cancer survivor, I need to watch what I am putting into my body. For me, Tequila is a spirit that I can drink without too many after-effects, as long as I don’t add anything else. I want to educate people on the benefits of Tequila and change the stereotypical thought of what Tequila is.”
Anteel’s Raspberry Picante Paloma was featured on our round-up of top cocktail recipes using Black-owned spirits brands.
Destiladora Del Valle de Tequila distillery produces Anteel, alongside 21 Seeds, Sabor and Nosotros.
2. Duke & Dame
The salted caramel whiskey was founded by Amani Macaulay and Chima Burey, two friends who worked in corporate finance but decided to pursue their passion for spirits instead.
The independent brand is distilled and bottled in South Florida, and is now available at select liquor stores, bars and restaurants across US states Florida, Michigan and New York. It has also secured multiple awards in its journey so far.
The whiskey has one gram of sugar per serving – said to be the least amount ‘among its competitors’.
3. Cincoro Tequila
Cincoro was launched in 2019, and is part-owned by former basketball star Michael Jordan.
Jordan partnered with fellow sport entrepreneurs to set up Cincoro Tequila, namely Jeanie Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers, Wes Edens of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Emilia Fazzalari and Wyc Grousbeck of the Boston Celtics.
During its initial launch, the team commissioned Mark Smith, vice-president of innovation special projects at Nike, to design the first bottle and packaging.
The Tequila is distilled from 100% Blue Weber agave, and now boasts blanco, reposado, añejo, Gold and extra añejo expressions in its portfolio. The Gold bottling was released in September last year.
4. Ten to One
Caribbean rum brand Ten to One has been co-owned by American singer Ciara since 2021, when she teamed up with the brand’s Trinidad-born founder and CEO Marc Farrell. Former Starbucks senior vice-president Farrell founded the brand in 2019.
In 2022, the brand received investment from Diageo-backed incubator Pronghorn.
“Pronghorn’s team are spirits industry game-changers,” Ciara noted at the time of Pronghorn’s investment. “It’s rewarding to see these creative minds rally around a brand and a mission that I am so passionate about and enable a path to excellence that uplifts and supports Black entrepreneurs.”
5. Indoggo Gin
In 2020, Young, Wild and Free rapper Snoop Dogg released his strawberry-infused gin brand in the US, aptly named Indoggo Gin.
The liquid is said to have been made with a “laid-back California style”, and seven botanicals, including orange, coriander and cassia.
Snoop Dogg partnered with his friend Keenan Towns, co-founder of Trusted Spirits, a drinks supplier that develops celebrity wine and spirits brands, and importer Prestige Beverage Group, on the development of the gin.
In 2021, Indoggo stepped up its marketing game with a branded tour bus that travelled the US offering tastings.
6. Lobos 1707
Founded by Diego Osorio (pictured, left), chief creative officer, and CEO Dia Simms, who has worked with brands such as Deleón Tequila and Cîroc Vodka, Lobos 1707 hit headlines when it announced it was getting American basketball player Lebron James (picture, right) onboard.
James invested in the company with his business partner and friend Maverick Carter due to the quality of the product, its core values and the chance to build a ‘strong consumer brand with diverse leadership’.
The brand’s name translates to ‘wolves’ in Spanish. Lobos 1707 offers four expressions: Joven Tequila, Reposado Tequila and Extra Añejo Tequila, which are produced in Jalisco, Mexico; and Mezcal Artesanal, made in Oaxaca. The aged expressions are finished in Pedro Ximénez barrels.
7. Equiano Rum
This brand describes itself as the world’s first African and Caribbean rum, and was created by rum authorities Ian Burrell and Richard Seale in October 2019.
The brand’s bottlings boast a blend of rums derived from two distilleries: Barbados-based Foursquare Rum Distillery, where Seale is master distiller, and Mauritius-based Gray’s Distillery. The brand is named after African-born writer and freedom fighter Olaudah Equiano, and often donates proceeds from bottlings to its partner, an international human rights charity called Anti-Slavery International.
Equiano has also worked closely with the charity to facilitate content creation, marketing and advertising to underpin the campaign and raise awareness of the charity’s vital work.
In a pledge to continue the support, education and training for people born into and forced into slavery today, Equiano Rum has helped to strengthen Anti-Slavery International’s core work while ‘going beyond the pour’ to celebrate the historic legacy of Olaudah Equiano.
8. Fresh Bourbon
Based in Kentucky, US, Fresh Bourbon Distilling Co was founded by Lexington native Sean Edwards, and was registered in 2017 with the aim of creating a “premier, African-American-owned Bourbon brand”.
In 2020, the company invested US$5.4 million to build its new whiskey distillery, with husband and wife Sean and Tia Edwards revealing plans to build the 35,000-square-foot site near the Distillery District in Lexington.
The company was sued by Brough Brothers for claiming to be the first African-American-owned Bourbon distillery.
Spearhead is certainly a spirits brand to keep an eye on, having secured US$3 million investment for global growth last year from Pendulum, an investment and advisory platform.
Spearhead was founded in the UK in March 2021 by Chris Frederick and Damola Timeyin, and the investment it received one year after its launch marked its entry into the US market.
The company’s portfolio of brands with African provenance include Bayab Gin and Vusa Vodka, and its products are made with botanicals from across the African continent.
Frederick, who also holds the position of CEO, noted at the time of receiving the investment that there is “a lack of Black-owned African spirits brands exported globally”, and Spearhead aims to “connect the world to Africa through [its] spirits”.
10. Hella Cocktail Co
Another brand to have received Pronghorn’s financial backing, Hella Cocktail Co was introduced in 2012 by Jomaree Pinkard, Tobin Ludwig and Eddie Simeon. The company creates botanical-inspired mixers, cocktail bitters and its canned non-alcoholic Bitters & Soda range.
Pronghorn’s investment, which was only revealed earlier this year, also included access to its ‘supercharging’ programme for Hella Cocktail Co, which aims to help scale businesses.
Pinkard was also revealed to have transitioned from his position as chairman of Hella Cocktail Co to become Pronghorn’s new CEO and managing director.
The company is said to be the first BIPOC-founded, owned and led American beverage brand to be available in all 50 states.