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Brown–Forman Corporation
IndustryDrink industry
Founded1870; 153 years ago (1870)
FounderGeorge Garvin Brown
HeadquartersLouisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Area served
Key people
RevenueIncrease US$5.081 billion (2022)[1]
Increase US$1.166 billion (2021)[1]
Increase US$0.903 billion (2021)[1]
Total assetsIncrease US$6.522 billion (2021)[1]
Total equityIncrease US$3.963 billion (2021)[1]
Number of employees
5,200[2] (2022)

The Brown–Forman Corporation is an American-based company, one of the largest in the spirits and wine business. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, it manufactures several very well known brands throughout the globe, including Jack Daniel's, Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, GlenDronach, BenRiach, Glenglassaugh, Herradura, Korbel, and Chambord. Brown–Forman formerly owned Southern Comfort and Tuaca before selling them off in 2016.

As of fiscal 2016 the company had sales of $3.08 billion.[3] The roughly 40 members of the Brown family, cousins that are descendants of founder George Garvin Brown, control more than 70% of the voting shares[4] and in 2016 had a net worth of $12.3 billion.[5]

The company is a sponsor of the Brown–Forman Retailer of the Year awards given by the American Beverage Licensees.[6]


According to one source, the company was founded in 1870 by George Garvin Brown, a young pharmaceuticals salesman in Louisville, and his partner John Forman.[7]

Brown had the then-novel idea of selling top-grade whiskey in sealed glass bottles.[8]

A different source says the company was founded by Brown alone and he brought in his accountant as a partner in 1890.[9]

In 1890, the company's name was changed to Brown–Forman and Company in order to reflect the partnership. Despite the temperance movement in America, the company prospered.[7]

Forman was not sure the idea of selling whiskey in glass bottles would be a good business strategy in the long term, and he sold his interest to Brown and Brown's family in 1902.[7]

According to some sources, Brown's partner's given name was George (rather than John) and he died in 1901, and Brown purchased his stock, and shortly after this, Brown–Forman was incorporated.[9][10]

Yet another slightly different story is told in a source published in 1905, saying Brown began in J. T. S. Brown & Bro., which reorganized as Brown, Chambers & Co. in 1873, then Chambers & Brown a year later, then Brown, Thompson & Co. six years later, and then, upon the withdrawal of Thompson, became Brown, Forman & Co. in 1889, and then after Forman's death in 1901, became the Brown–Forman Company.[11]

In 1904, Owsley Brown, George Garvin Brown's son, came into the business. When George Garvin Brown died at the age of 70 in 1917, his son, Owsley, took over as president of Brown–Forman.[12]

With the onset of Prohibition in the United States, Brown–Forman was granted one of six national licenses to produce medicinal whiskey.[13]

In 2005, the company sold its Lenox division (one of the oldest and most famous manufacturers of fine china in the United States), which had been acquired in 1983, to Department 56 for $160 million. The income generated by the sale was distributed to the shareholders in the form of a one time special dividend.[14]

Part of the company's Louisville complex

In 2006, the company acquired the Chambord liqueur brand (a super-premium black raspberry liqueur produced in France) for $255 million.[15][16]

In 2007, the company acquired Tequila Herradura, a Mexican company that produces the Casa Herradura tequila brand (a super-premium tequila produced in Mexico) for $776 million,[17] while it also sold its Hartman Luggage division (one of the leaders in the travel goods industry and originally a subdivision of Lenox), to Clarion Capitol Partners. One year later in 2008, it sold the Bolla and Fontana Candida Italian wine brands to Gruppo Italiano Vini (GIV). The terms of neither sale were disclosed.[18]

In 2011, the company sold Fetzer Vineyards and associated brands to Chilean wine producer Viña Concha y Toro S.A. for $238 million.[19]

In 2016, the Southern Comfort and Tuaca brands were sold to Sazerac Company for $543 Million.[20]

In 2016, Brown–Forman also reached an agreement to purchase the BenRiach Distillery Company Limited for approximately £285 million. The purchase brought BenRiach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh to Brown–Forman's portfolio.[21]

In 2020, the company sold the Early Times and Canadian Mist brands to Sazerac Company.[22]

In January 2021, Chairman George Garvin Brown IV retired. His brother, Campbell P. Brown, was selected to replace him.[23]

In November 2023, Brown-Forman announced the sale of Finlandia vodka to The Coca-Cola Company for $220 million.[24]


Brown–Forman has two classes of common stock, both of which are traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange. The Class A shares carry voting privileges and are thinly traded due to control by the Brown family while the Class B shares are non-voting stock.


Brown–Forman beverage brands include:[25]

American whiskey:

Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey: Old Forester, Woodford Reserve

Tennessee whiskey: Jack Daniel's

Canadian whisky: Collingwood

Irish whiskey: Slane

Scotch whisky:

Single malt Scotch whisky: BenRiach, GlenDronach, Glenglassaugh

Gin: Fords

Liqueur: Chambord

Ready-to-drink coolers: Little Black Dress

Tequila: Don Eduardo, El Jimador, Herradura, Pepe Lopez

Wine: Korbel (distributed), Sonoma-Cutrer Wines

Environmental impact[edit]

In 2009, Newsweek magazine ranked Brown–Forman in their "Green Rankings"[26] which examines 500 of the largest corporations on their environmental track record. Brown–Forman was ranked 63rd out of 500 overall, and was ranked third in the food and beverage industry sector.[27]


Illegal subsidization in China[edit]

In 2011, Brown–Forman was accused of illegally subsidizing its distributors in China, and subsequently delaying payment to them as agreed under contract.[28] The Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce fined Brown–Forman 2 million renminbi (US$320,000) for illegal subsidization.[29]

Boycott Over Trans & Drag Activism[edit]

In 2021, Jack Daniels teamed up with three drag queens from the hit TV show to produce a series of videos called Drag Queen Summer Glamp, which was released during pride month. It features the participants completing challenges around the company's Lynchburg, Tennessee, distillery. Calls for a boycott of Jack Daniel's follow a similar social media outrage as Bud Light after the beer firm partnered with transgender influencer and activist Dylan Mulvaney.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Brown–Forman Corporation 2021 Annual Report" (PDF). April 30, 2021. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  2. ^ "Brown-Forman". Fortune. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  3. ^ "Brown–Forman Corp, BF.B:NYQ financials". Financial Times. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  4. ^ "George Garvin Brown IV: A family man rides the bourbon boom". May 1, 2005. Retrieved November 8, 2016.
  5. ^ Forbes. "America's Richest Families List 2016 Ranking". Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  6. ^ "Brown–Forman Retailers of the Year – American Beverage Licensees". Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "Brown-forman Corp". Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  8. ^ Scott C. Martin (December 16, 2014). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Alcohol: Social, Cultural, and Historical Perspectives. SAGE Publications. pp. 408–. ISBN 978-1-4833-7438-3. Retrieved December 31, 2017. [I]n 1870, whiskey drinks were drawn and sold right out of the barrel. In an innovative marketing move...
  9. ^ a b "Brown family". Forbes. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  10. ^ "Brown Forman Cocktail Ingredient Maker". Cocktails. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  11. ^ Memoirs of the Lower Ohio Valley: Personal and Genealogical. Federal Publishing Company. 1905.
  12. ^ Craig, Susanne (September 29, 2011). "Owsley Brown II, Liquor Company Chief, Dies at 69 (Published 2011)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  13. ^ Mitenbuler, Reid (May 12, 2015). Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America's Whiskey. p. 185. ISBN 9780670016839.
  14. ^ "ChartEXE: Market Data Aggregation Service". ChartEXE: Market Data Aggregation Service. Retrieved November 3, 2020.
  15. ^ Brown–Forman Adds Chambord to Liquor Cabinet, New York Times Dealbook, March 16, 2006.
  16. ^ Brown–Forman Completes Chambord Acquisition, press release, June 1, 2006.
  17. ^ Chris Mercer (November 29, 2007). "US: Casa Herradura helps offset costs for Brown–Forman Q2: Beverage News & Comment". Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  18. ^ "Brown-Forman to Sell Bolla and Fontana Candida Italian Wine brands To Gruppo Italiano Vini". RTTNews. Retrieved November 5, 2020.
  19. ^ "Concha y Toro Buying Fetzer for $238 Million". Wine Spectator. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  20. ^ "Southern Comfort brand sold for $543m". The Telegraph. January 14, 2016. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  21. ^ "Brown–Forman to Acquire the Glendronach, Benriach, AND Glenglassaugh Single Malt Scotch Whiskies". April 27, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  22. ^ "Brown-Forman sells Early Times and Canadian Mist". Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  23. ^ "Change in board of directors chair for Brown-Foreman".
  24. ^ Bowes, Lauren (November 2, 2023). "Brown-Forman completes $220m Finlandia sale". The Spirits Business. Retrieved November 2, 2023.
  25. ^ "Brown-Forman Portfolio of Brands". Retrieved November 4, 2023.
  26. ^ "Newsweek, Greenest Big Companies in America – The 2009 List". Newsweek. September 21, 2009. Retrieved July 21, 2010.
  27. ^ "Newsweek – Green Ranking – Brown–Forman". Archived from the original on September 25, 2009. Retrieved July 21, 2010.
  28. ^ "Brown–Forman accused of illegal subsidies in China again". Want China Times. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  29. ^ "Brown–Forman Involved in Bribery Again in Shanghai". SinoCast. Archived from the original on November 18, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  30. ^ Phillips, Aleks (April 6, 2023). "Jack Daniels Faces Boycott Calls Over LGBT Campaign: 'Lost a Loyal Drinker'". Newsweek. Retrieved April 14, 2023.

External links[edit]

  • Official website
  • Business data for Brown–Forman (Class A):
  • Business data for Brown–Forman (Class B):