It’s certainly not unprecedented for a brewer to dip a toe into the whiskey pool, but the new Coors Five Trail Blended American Whiskey is different than predecessors' because, well, it’s good.
Instead of trying to cheat time or rely on gimmicks, fifth generation Coors family member David Coors, who is VP of the company’s Next Generation Beverage Division, personally worked on the blend of three sourced bourbons and a Colorado single malt that’s cut with Rocky Mountain water.
And rather than trust himself completely, this guy who has been running through his veins tapped the talented blenders at Bardstown Bourbon Company to help create Five Trail.
The result is the first full-strength spirit from Molson Coors Beverage Company and it’s now available in Milwaukee after having launched in some markets last year.
The nose is rich with malt and vanilla and brown sugar, leading to more vanilla, oak and a nice toastiness on the palate.
It’s a pretty impressive step into whiskey for this long-time brewer.
We caught up with David Coors to ask him about Five Trail and other spirits that might be in the works.
OnMilwaukee: Why whiskey?
David Coors: The desire to create a whiskey came to me about 20 years ago, but at that time, our company was known for one thing, and that was beer. However, when Molson Coors launched its Next Generation Beverage Division of which I’m VP, and includes wine and spirits, I knew our first full-strength spirit would be whiskey.
There’s a prominent connection between whiskey and beer, as whiskey is effectively distilled beer and ingredients such as malt is a key ingredient in both beer and whiskey. So we were already on a viable path.
Can you say who distilled the various whiskies in the blend?
We don’t disclose our exact sources for the blend, but I can tell you it's an intentional blend of four whiskies and one water, which for our inaugural blend includes 4-year-old Colorado single malt whiskey (15 percent), 4-year-old 4-grain Kentucky bourbon (35 percent), 4-year-old wheated Indiana bourbon (45 percent), and 13-year-old Kentucky bourbon (5 percent), proofed to 95 percent with Rocky Mountain water.
Was the blending done in collaboration with BBC or does Five Trail have its own in-house blending team?
I started sampling whiskeys over two years ago, then Covid hit, and I was stuck at home. So, I began experimenting with different whiskies, mixing over 100 blends to discover a taste profile I liked.
Once I got into the realm of where I wanted to be in terms of flavor, I reached out to Bardstown Bourbon Company to help us create the final blend.
Has the response been what Coors has hoped for its first whiskey?
Yes, and in some cases has exceeded our expectations. As a long-standing brewer, we knew we’d have doubters, which is why we were adamant about taking a very thoughtful approach and to work with the right partners and whiskey experts to help us bring our vision to life.
We’re pleased with the reception we’ve received thus far from retailers and consumers, as well as media and other whiskey influencers – and of course we were elated to secure a Double Gold award at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition just seven months after the launch of our first blend.
Are there plans for more whiskey expressions?
Yes. We launched Blend 001 in four markets in September 2021 and we are expanding production and markets in 2022 – first with the launch of our Blend 002, which has a flavor profile that resembles Blend 001, but with some slight differences to keep it interesting each year.
We’ll also be introducing new SKUs within our brand portfolio this fall.
What else can you share about other "Next Generation" projects in the works?
Outside of Five Trail, we have additional products including a premium tequila-based ready to drink cocktail called Superbird, with a delicious grapefruit paloma and tequila soda offering, as well as Veryvell, a sparkling water with hemp-derived CBD and adaptogens that is currently available in 22 markets DTC and three markets via retail, and we’re continuing to explore expansion in whiskey and RTD cocktails.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.