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Pronghorn backs rye whiskey brands

Diageo-backed incubator Pronghorn has invested in four Black-owned spirits brands, including American rye whiskey Greenwood.

Pronghorn previously invested in Anteel Tequila

The latest companies to gain investment from Pronghorn are: Greenwood Whiskey, Red Hazel Whiskey, TCapri Tequila, IslandJon Vodka.

The brands will gain access to Pronghorn’s ‘supercharging’ programme, which includes consulting services and mentorship from industry experts.

Rye whiskey brand Greenwood was founded by a collective of four men who were inspired by the legacy of ‘Black Wall Street’. The brand is named after the Greenwood neighbourhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was home to 600 African-American-owned businesses – the largest concentration in the US in 1921.

Red Hazel is a rye whiskey brand founded in 2020 by entrepreneur TK Burtin-Johnson and her brother, Ty Burtin. The brand is said to offers layers of spice and is available for delivery in 20-plus states.

Meanwhile, TCapri was founded by Tiffany Capri Hainesworth, described as the first Black woman to solely own a Tequila company. The range includes blanco and reposado bottlings made with 100% Blue Weber agave at a family-owned distillery in the highlands of Jalisco.

Founded by father and son Levi and Kevin John, IslandJon Vodka was inspired by the duo’s Caribbean roots.

“Pronghorn continues to disrupt the fundamental relationship between venture capital and Black entrepreneurs,” said Pronghorn’s CEO and managing director, Jomaree Pinkard.

“This cohort of innovative and award-winning founders is an exciting next chapter in our mission, and all share the type of dynamic brand and product narrative essential to succeed in today’s crowded marketplace.

“We are thrilled to welcome these brilliant founders to the Pronghorn family and can’t wait for them to be able to tap into the full weight and force of our support infrastructure as they scale their businesses.”

Pronghorn has provided financial backing to 13 companies in less than one year, including Ten To One Rum (co-owned by singer Ciara), Ego Tequila (the first Black woman-owned Tequila in Texas), Den of Thieves, Hella Cocktail Co, Tequila With Friends, Common Ground Spirits, Delta Dirt Distillery, Anteel Tequila, and Old Hillside Bourbon Company.

Pronghorn aims to invest in 57 Black-owned and led spirits brands over the next 10 years, generating US$2.4 billion in economic value for the Black community.

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