Matthew McConaughey Jumps Into the Bourbon Business

In the summer of 2016, Wild Turkey made headlines by naming Matthew McConaughey as its creative director. Now the two are taking their relationship to the next level.

McConaughey and master distiller Eddie Russell have collaborated to launch Wild Turkey Longbranch, a new bourbon that’s filtered with Texas mesquite and oak charcoals.

McConaughey has led the charge to bring Wild Turkey back to the spotlight as small craft distillers have won the hearts of spirit drinkers in the past few years. He unveiled Longbranch via a live announcement on Facebook Tuesday, introducing both Russell and his mother at various points.

The idea behind Longbranch, says McConaughey, was to blend the tastes of Kentucky and Texas together.

“Longbranch, in its simplest form, is an extended hand, inviting a friend into your family,” he said in a statement. “So the branch that was extended to me from the Russells was a long one, one that reached from Kentucky to Texas and back again. I offered the Mesquite from my great state to add to their legendary Kentucky whiskey and together we made Longbranch.”

The resulting product, according to the company, contains flavors of caramel, pear, and hints of citrus. It’s said to have a smooth, smoky finish, with notes of pepper and toasted oak.

The bourbon will be available domestically starting in May with a suggested retail price of $40. Wild Turkey is planning an international rollout later this year.

Large liquor companies still control the industry, but the number of small batch competitors is growing exponentially as consumers show more of a preference for boutique spirits.

Twelve years ago, there were roughly 50 craft distilleries in the United States. Today, says the American Craft Spirits Association, there are 1,589—a number that has doubled in the past two-and-a-half years. In 2016 (the most recent figures available), the craft distilling industry sold nearly 6 million cases, an 18.5% increase in volume over the prior year, with $3 billion in sales.

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