Lee Spirits Co. began selling its gin locally in 2015, adding the cool speakeasy Brooklyn's on Boulder Street the following year. Literally just ahead of the pandemic shutdown in 2020, the company also opened a manufacturing facility and second taproom in Monument.
Now, ushering in a new era for the brand, Lee Spirits Co. has been acquired by Sonder Libations Company, a new spirits portfolio that's launching with Lee plus a promise to acquire two more spirits brands in fall, 2021.
Behind Sonder is CEO Kevin Selvy, a brand strategist who founded Denver's Crazy Mountain Brewery and has also consulted for San Francisco's historic Anchor Steam Brewing. The big goal, in a nutshell, is to take this new portfolio global within a couple years.
Lee Spirits Co. founders and cousins Nick and Ian Lee have become Sonder advisory board members as part of the acquisition. Ian says Sonder "wants us to influence the rest of their portfolio in the coming years... what allowed Lee to grow successful we can help apply to other brands to help them become successful."
The team is not disclosing any financial aspects of the deal, in part to honor the privacy of many early investors local to the Springs, says Ian. But what he was able to tell me during a brief phone chat was that Lee Spirits Co. had been approached a handful of times in the past two years for acquisition and that "Sonder was the first partner that gave us those warm fuzzy feelings."
Ian says he and Nick brought three requirements to the table: 1) All employees had to be well taken care of. None lost jobs and the company actually plans to hire for future distribution expansion. 2) All tasting rooms function as they have been "or to a greater degree of awesome." 3) Position the company to grow the brand "aggressively and become a global player" in the next three years.
Ian says Sonder will utilize the Monument facility as its headquarters and primary manufacturing location for future spirits in the portfolio as well, which will create more jobs.
"This was the vision: to start a brand regionally, then in-state, then get national and global influence and put C Springs on the map. Become a major employer and bring capital into this region. This acquisition is doing all of those things."
When asked if Lee Spirit Co. loyalists and tasting-room regulars will notice any differences, Ian insists their experiences should stay the same. However, one tease of the expansion to come: "other spirits from the portfolio will likely eventually make their way into the local taprooms; it's not concrete yet, but if they have spirits that match the pedigree we've known, they'll be there."
Here's the full press release for more info:
Sonder Libations Company, a New Spirits Portfolio, Launches Operations
Firm Immediately Expands Product Catalog by Acquiring Colorado’s Lee Spirits Company while Confirming Plans to Purchase Two Additional Spirit Brands this Fall
Colorado Springs, Colo. – July 7, 2021 – Sonder Libations Company, a newly formed spirits portfolio founded to manufacture and distribute the most unique collection of bespoke spirits in North America, is pleased to announce operations are underway.
In its first definitive agreement, Sonder Libations Company has acquired Lee Spirits Company (details undisclosed). Lee Spirits Company is a nationally award-winning and noted spirit(s) manufacturer who specializes in ready to drink (RTD) canned cocktails and flavored gins. Along with purchasing Lee Spirits Company’s extensive product portfolio, Sonder Libations Company will now control and operate Lee Spirits Company’s assets including its manufacturing facility in Monument, Colorado along with the brand’s tasting rooms in Colorado Springs and Monument.
Kevin Selvy, founder of Crazy Mountain Brewery, has been named CEO of Sonder Libations Company. Selvy brings a wealth of expertise to his role, having served in a number of senior leadership and consulting positions over the past 15 years including with Crazy Mountain Brewery and Anchor Steam Brewing. His capabilities include extensive beverage and alcohol industry experience, strong financial orientation, and proven know-how operating large scale manufacturing endeavors in highly regulated markets across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Asia, and Europe. Kevin is an experienced strategist with a deep understanding of how to build beloved consumer brands while leveraging operational scale across a vast sales, distribution, production, and manufacturing footprint.
“Kevin Selvy and the Sonder Libations Company team are industry veterans with a proven track record of developing high performing alcohol brands that have grown into sales, distribution and manufacturing giants across the United States and internationally,” said Ian and Nick Lee, co-founders of Lee Spirits Company and now Sonder Libations Company Board Members. “Lee Spirits has spent eight years building an elite product portfolio that is trend-setting and never trend-chasing, and we are confident that with Kevin’s keen understanding of the marketplace, distributors and consumers across the United States and the globe will soon enjoy our meticulously formulated spirits.”
Sonder Libations Company will immediately begin distributing Lee Spirits’ portfolio in several new marketplaces including the Midwest and Southwestern United States with plans to introduce the brand’s lineup of spirits to all 50 states and the global market by the end of 2023.
“We are thrilled to welcome Lee Spirits Company as the first member of our portfolio of offerings under Sonder Libations’ company brand.” said Kevin Selvy, CEO. “The popularity of Lee Spirits clearly means its one-of-a-kind products are ready for increased distribution across the entire United States. Our sales and manufacturing infrastructure are primed to make Lee Spirits RTD cocktails and flavored gins into category captains with an unprecedented number of new distributors, consumers, liquor stores, bars and restaurants very rapidly.”
This fall, Sonder Libations Company will announce the acquisition of additional spirit brands.
“Our team is in final negotiations to acquire two more spirit brands. Much like Lee Spirits Company, these next acquisitions offer first-to-market spirit formulations and will be immediately distributed nationally and internationally. As we take possession of these two companies, distributors, spirits-business operators, and the consumer will absolutely adore these new properties which offer original spirit recipes and exceptional price points,” added Selvy. “We look forward to sharing Sonder Libations Company’s expeditious growth and successes regularly.”
Sonder Libations Company is a spirit portfolio, founded to manufacture and distribute the most unique collection of bespoke spirits in North America designed to immediately increase distributors’ catalogs of new offerings. For more information, please visit https://sonderlibations.com/.
Lee Spirits Company, a leading distiller of ready-to-drink (RTD) canned cocktails and flavored gins is a nationally award-winning Colorado-based distillery whose mission is to create the finest products to empower spirit lovers to enjoy authentic cocktails. To connect with Lee Spirits, visit their website or social media page.