In a move that pushes Fort Worth, Texas-based Ben E. Keith Beverages fully into the spirits market, the company has acquired Dallas-based Artisanal Beverage Distributor's assets, adding 20 suppliers to its growing lineup of spirits and expanding its spirits distribution footprint statewide.

Founded by Jeff Daniels and Mark Monfrey in 2014, Artisanal Beverage Distributor's portfolio includes bourbons, whiskeys, scotch, gin, tequila, mezcal, rum and vodka, as well as other specialty liqueurs and mixers. Ben E. Keith Beverages recently announced an agreement with Fort Worth's Blackland Distillery to distribute its gin, vodka, bourbon and whiskey throughout Texas. Prior to that, Ben E. Keith Beverages' first spirits deal was in 2017 with Deep Ellum Vodka, followed by Deep Bay Spirits, and Austin's Frankly Organic Vodka in 2019.

With this expansion, T.J. Samuelson will lead a new spirits-focused department as its Texas Spirits Manager. Both Daniels and Monfrey will be joining the company.

"This full-scale move into the spirits market solidifies Ben E. Keith's standing as a top wholesaler of premier beverages and provides a dedicated and focused department to growing our spirits business throughout Texas," said Kevin Bartholomew, president of Ben E. Keith Beverages, in a statement. "This strengthens our foothold in the space and complements our largest supplier partner Anheuser-Busch's growth into spirits."

In February, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev made its foray into the spirits category with the purchase of San Diego-based Cutwater Spirits.

"Teaming up with Ben E. Keith Beverages allows us to build on the popularity we've seen over the past decade in the spirits industry, particularly among millennials, and gives our brands more exposure and availability than ever," Daniels said.

According to reports from The Distilled Spirits Council, spirits sales and volumes grew for a record ninth straight year in 2018, reflecting continued market share gains for the segment. Supplier sales were up more than five percent, rising $1.3 billion to a total of $27.5 billion, while volumes rose 2.2 percent to 231 million cases, up 5 million cases from the prior year.

Terms of the sale are undisclosed.