The announcement was made on Friday, September 28th via the Diageo website.
Started back in 2013 by designer Tom Baker and acclaimed Australian distiller Philip Moore, Mr. Black was one of the first alcohol makers to offer a high end take on a coffee spirit, seeking to impart more than just general “coffee flavor” into the drink but more of the subtler, nuanced notes akin to those found in a cup of specialty coffee. (I’m more partial to J. Rieger & Co’s Caffé Amaro for my coffee spirit but Mr. Black makes a pretty delightful mixer.)
In the years following, the brand made waves in the specialty coffee world, showing up at multiple London Coffee Festivals as well as releasing a Gesha version of their liqueur—along with a bizarre “test” you had to take in order to have a chance of scoring a bottle. Once a rarity even at boutique spirits stores, Mr. Black is now available at just about every big box liquor store in the US, the UK, Australia, and 19 other countries world wide.
That distribution is set to expand even further now that the Aussie brand has been brought into the Diageo fold. But the relationship between the two companies has been seven years in the works. Back in 2015, Diageo bought a minority stake in Mr. Black via Distill Ventures, its accelerator program designed to “support entrepreneurs as they launch and grow innovative drinks brands,” per Diageo. In a press release, Mr. Black’s Tom Baker states:
Coffee is more than just a drink—it’s a culture, ritual, obsession, aesthetic, experience, tradition, and a community. We created Mr. Black to embody that culture and inspire people to take their love of coffee into their evening drinks. Diageo understood our vision early on and now, after several years with them as a supporter, we are thrilled to be joining the Diageo family.
Mr. Black joins the likes of Guinness, Johnny Walker, Bailey’s, Captain Morgan, and Smirnoff—which sounds like the ingredients to a drink I would make at a party in college and regret within the hour—under the Diageo umbrella. For more information, visit Diageo’s official website.
Top image from Mr. Black Could Well Be The World’s Finest Coffee Liqueur by Victor Frankowski