Spirited Celebrities: Tracing the Impact of Celebrity-Owned Liquor Labels on the Market

Rines Angel Fund
4 min readApr 29, 2024

By Nathan Brennan ’25 Associate

In an era where the lines between celebrity influence and entrepreneurial ventures blur, the celebrity alcohol market has been reimagined where cultural icons like Conor McGregor, Ryan Reynolds, Kylie Jenner, Dwane (The Rock) Johnson, and Travis Scott are not merely endorsing products but are at the helm of brands that are redefining the spirits industry. This trend which started in the 60’s with celebrities like Sammy Davis Jr is further enriched by modern day stars such as George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey, Bob Dylan, Drake, and Justin Timberlake, who’ve all ventured into this space, each adding their unique offering to the mix.

Conor McGregor’s Proper No. Twelve Whiskey, which quickly became synonymous with the fighter’s tenacity, is a prime example of this trend. By partnering with the world’s oldest whiskey distillery, Bushmills, McGregor has leveraged the brand’s reputation to produce a Irish whiskey with a high quality reputation. Due to the brand’s success after launching in 2018, McGregor sold the majority of his shares to Proximo Spirits for a cool $600 million. Similarly, Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin sold to Diageo in a deal worth up to $610 million, exemplifying high-profile purchases.

George Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila, which was sold to Diageo for a staggering $1 billion, not only showcased the potential for financial success but also highlighted the consumers appetite for celebrity-backed ventures. In 2022, Casamigos sold 3.2 million 9-liter cases, up from 2.21 million the previous year which is a growth rate of 45%. This move paved the way for other celebrities to follow suit, signaling that the market for celebrity alcohol brands is lucrative and trending.

The Rock’s Teremana Tequila has made waves for its focus on sustainability and quality, traits that are increasingly important to target consumers. Within its first year, Teremana sold approximately 300,000 9-liter cases, illustrating the brand’s rise and the consumer’s appetite for products that reflect the values and ethos of their celebrity founders.

The industry’s growth is not without its challenges. The surge of celebrity brands has raised questions about market saturation and the long-term viability of these ventures. American celebrities alone have created over 40 wine or liquor brands and owners include powerful politicians like Nancy Pelosi. Yet, the continued innovation and strategic partnerships formed by celebrities with long-established industry giants suggest a substantial market. The fusion of celebrities personal brands with larger alcohol conglomerates secures advertising campaigns and promotional materials while having the product produced and distributed by seasoned industry professionals.

Moreover, the emphasis on authenticity, sustainability, and quality by these celebrity-backed brands aligns with shifting consumer preferences. This alignment, coupled with the celebrities’ massive social media followings, creates a compelling value proposition for both the brands and their consumers.

In the future of the celebrity alcohol market, it’s evident that the blend of public influence, business strategy, and key partnerships is making a significant impact on the way liquor is being advertised. The liquor market is booming and is anticipated to reach an estimated value of $2 trillion by 2027. Celebrities have been drawn to this industry by the opportunity of combining a personal passion with a product that has a short production time and high margins. According to an article written by Business Insider, George Clooney and his friend Rande Gerber came up with the idea for Casamigos because of a shared love of tequila and a desire for the perfect product. George and Rande wanted a smooth-drinking, complex-flavor-profile tequila that they could enjoy on the rocks or in a cocktail without experiencing rough mornings after drinking throughout the day. With celebrities continuously entering the market, offering products that reflect their personal brand and values, the spirits industry is undergoing a revolution. One that is driven by powerful public influence paired with industry expertise to offer the ultimate product that offers both quality and novelty.

Nathan is a junior from Arlington, MA, who is pursuing a major in Business Administration with concentrations in Management and Entrepreneurship. Since joining the Fund, Nathan aims to gain invaluable firsthand experience in the world of angel investment and startup practices. Last summer, Nathan interned at Auris-Avalon Group, an MIT-based biofuel startup, where he worked as a project coordinator for bio-refineries on four continents. During his freshman year, Nathan co-founded Grey-t Water through the UNH Entrepreneurship Center and competed in national, state, and school competitions. Nathan is actively involved on campus as a Shaw Explorer alumni, an Entrepreneurship Center Ambassador, and a member of the Paul School honors program.



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