/ 29 December 2022

Big-name boosts for booze brands


Sean “Diddy” Combs and George Clooney were among the first celebrities to invest in, or start their own, alcoholic beverage companies. 

Back in the early noughties, when all our favourite celebs were signing perfume deals, these two gentlemen saw the huge market potential in the drinks industry. 

South African celebrities have also jumped on this highly lucrative bandwagon.  

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Teremana Blanco tequila

The celebrity tequila trend in America isn’t showing any sign of slowing down. Kendall Jenner, Kevin Hart and Rita Ora are among the A-listers hoping to follow the success of Clooney’s Casamigos. 

The Rock’s Teremana tequila launched at the beginning of lockdown in March 2020. 

Despite the pandemic, the tequila was well received in the US and distribution was extended to Canada and Mexico. 

There have been reports that it is poised for major global expansion, thanks to a new deal with German liquor giant Mast-Jägermeister. 

Teremana, produced at the Destileria Teremana de Agave in Jalisco, Mexico, offers blanco, reposado and añejo variations. 

Jay-Z D’USSE Cognac 

Armadale Vodka was Jay-Z’s first venture into the liquor game in 2002.  The project was a joint venture with his former friend and business partner at Roc-A-Fella Records, Damon Dash. Although the pair parted ways, Jay-Z continues making waves in the alcohol world. 

The rapper mogul owns D’USSE cognac and champagne brand Armand de Brignac (Ace of Spades). A joint venture with Bacardi,  D’USSE is estimated to be worth $100 million. 

Smooth and refined, Jay-Z’s cognac is luxury in a bottle. It is unique in that it’s made to be used as a cocktail ingredient but, of course, it can also be sipped neat. 

Intoxicating: Jay-Z with his D’USSE Cognac

Conor McGregor Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey

The 31-year-old MMA champion and entrepreneur released his Irish whiskey brand in September 2018. Incredibly, Proper Twelve made revenue of around $1 billion in its first year on the market. 

After vigorously promoting the whiskey, McGregor stunned fans by selling a majority stake to Proximo Spirits. Proximo, a company that owns Jose Cuervo and other alcohol brands, already had a 49% share in Proper No. Twelve. The deal is worth up to $600 million, adding to the fighter’s increasing wealth. 

The whiskey features a blend of Ireland’s finest golden grain and single-malt whiskey. Try it for yourself — it’s available at liquor stores around South Africa. 

Mariah Carey Black Irish Cream Liqueur 

The All I Want for Christmas singer launched her cream liqueur late last year. Black Irish, crafted in Ireland, is a unique blend made with aged whiskey. The liqueur is available in three varieties: original, white chocolate and salted caramel. 

The music icon is said to have chosen the name Black Irish as “a playful nod to her black and Irish lineage”. Her father was of black and Venezuelan  descent and her mother has an Irish background. 

Carey didn’t have much time to celebrate her new venture before getting embroiled in a trademark dispute with Darker Still Spirits. The UK company claims to have begun work on its Black Irish whiskey and stout-spirit drink in 2018, purchasing the United Kingdom and European Union trademark in January 2020. 

Meanwhile, the American singer-songwriter registered the US trademark of her own product of the same name in July 2019. Until the dispute is settled, Carey can’t sell her cream liqueur in the European Union.

Mariah Carey with her Black Irish Cream Liqueur

50 Cent Le Chemin du Roi Champagne 

Leave it to Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson to create one of the most luxurious bottles of bubbly on the market — inside and out. Le Chemin du Roi, which translates to “the king’s path”, is a line of brut, rosé and blanc de blancs retailing from R4 000 to over R17 000. 

The luxury champagne is bottled by Champagne Castelnau, a cooperative of growers across 900 hectares in Reims, France. After being aged for four years, each bottle of the bubbly is affixed by hand with a 14-carat gold-plated emblem modelled on a king chess piece. 

This might be the only time it’s acceptable to keep an alcohol bottle after consuming the contents.  

Local stars pouring it up 

Thapelo Mokoena Nero Wine

Thapelo Mokoena, respected actor and filmmaker, launched Nero Wine in partnership with Bosman Family Vineyards, which has been in the business for eight generations. 

Bosman Nero, a red wine, is the first in South Africa to be made from the Sicilian grape Nero d’Avola. It grows in the volcanic soil of Sicily and was the perfect choice for Bosman as he was looking for a grape that would thrive in the drought in the Western Cape at the time. 

Mokoena has also launched YouTube channel Nero TV, where he delves into wine culture and his experience of becoming a winemaker. 

Cassper Nyovest Tequila Billiato

Cassper “Mufasa” Nyovest held a media launch for Billiato on his 31st birthday on 16 December last year. 

The Billiato, which the Tito Mboweni hit-maker describes as a flavoured spirit with “a taste of wealth”, had fans confused when it was first launched — Cassper didn’t want to specify what type of alcoholic beverage it was. Is it gin, tequila or vodka? I guess the taste is the deciding factor.  

Cassper Nyovest shows off his Billiato liquor

​​Bonang Matheba Sparkling wine and MCC House of BNG

In 2019, Bonang Matheba launched her luxury beverage brand with the House of BNG. It was initially launched exclusively with Woolworths but has expanded to Game, Makro, Takealot and other retailers. 

The brand quickly became the country’s favoured celebration partner — from the presidential inauguration to Miss SA — and “Queen B” was the first black woman to become a member of the Cap Classique Producers Association. 

Matheba continued her ascent in the South Africa luxury beverage industry with the launch of BNG Nectar and BNG Nectar Blanc, sparkling wine in a can. Matheba promises The House of BNG Nectar will turn “every location, into a vibrant, stylish occasion, the Bonang way”.

Boity Thulo BT Signature peach frizzante

Boitumelo “Boity” Thulo joined forces with renowned winemaker Matthew Krone to bring this premium range to market. According to Boity, the partnership with Krone came to fruition in 2019 when the two were introduced. 

After two years of strategising, Thulo finally launched the range in April last year. He cleverly included a non-alcoholic option, something often overlooked. 

Pearl Thusi Black Rose gin

Distilled in the mountains of the Cape, Back Rose gin is made in copper pots for an extra-smooth taste experience. The premium gin brand was founded in February 2018 by Luxury Brand Company and it was Thusi’s involvement that catapulted it into the spotlight. 

The Queen Sono star took to Instagram in October last year to announce that she was not only endorsing the beverage but had she acquired equity in the company. 

Black Rose can be enjoyed in three varieties: satin orange, ruby blood orange and pink pomegranate. If you love fresh, fruit-flavoured gin, Black Rose is for you.Sean “Diddy” Combs and George Clooney were among the first celebrities to invest or start their own alcoholic beverage company. Back in the early naughties when all our favourite celebs were signing perfume deals, these two gentlemen saw the huge market potential in the beverage industry. South African celebrities have also jumped on this highly lucrative trend, endorsing and owning a share in beverage companies.  

Cassper Nyovest shows off his Billiato liquor