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Over the last three years, A$AP Rocky, the multi-hyphenate artist known for projects spanning music, art, fashion, has been quietly working on his latest venture: Mercer + Prince, a Canadian whisky developed in partnership with Global Brand Equities and E. & J. Gallo. The spirit, named for Rocky’s favorite cross streets in his native New York City, has a flavor profile with hints of vanilla, caramel, and baked apple.
“I’m so excited and grateful to finally introduce Mercer + Prince to the world,” founder Rocky said in a statement. “I have been learning about whisky from all over the world for the past decade and wanted to defy the rules to create something unique, while honoring and respecting industry traditions.”
Aged over four years in American white oak barrels and blended in Canada, Mercer + Prince is also infused with Japanese Mizunara oak (which adds more nuanced cinnamon and black tea notes), making it a uniquely complex and cross-cultural drinking experience.
“We set out on a mission where we tasted a range of different liquids. We had Rocky taste between 40 and 50 different liquids from all different categories, all within the whiskey category, but from different origins and countries. The primary objective of those blind tastings was to land on his favorite taste profile,” James Morrissey, Founder & CEO of Global Brand Equities, told The Hollywood Reporter. “We put our trust in him as a tastemaker.”
Rocky and Morrissey felt that the whiskey category is crowded with traditional brands, in terms of taste, distillation process, and aesthetic. “We shared very similar visions for how the traditional categories of whiskey could be disrupted today, to speak more to the contemporary consumer,” he said.
The Mercer + Prince bottle design is perhaps the most notable departure from classic whiskey silhouettes; sleek and functional, the alcohol comes in a flat-edged rectangular bottle, able to rest vertically or horizontally, and features two cups as bookends.
In the winter of 2019, Rocky and Morrissey sat in the Roxy Hotel in Soho, as Rocky sketched his vision for the packaging on a napkin. “He was kind of nervous to show me what he had in mind because it was so obscure, so different,” Morrissey said. “The product almost looks like an elevated art piece. It’s designed to elevate your bar cart.” Aesthetic value aside, the bottle is encased in a way that makes it suitable for transit, a nod to Rocky’s innate New York sensibility.
In the past, Global Brand Equities has partnered with other music industry talents to develop beverages; Maison No. 9, their French rose wine project with Post Malone, debuted in 2020. “It’s really important to have an authentic connection, relationship, and ownership of anything we create with talent in a very intentional way,” Morrissey says. “We are not a company that pays entertainers to endorse products that we’ve already created. It has to be a true collaboration in the real sense. And we believe that consumers are smart enough today to realize exactly what they want — they no longer want talent just to be the faces of brands.”
Since its launch last week, Mercer + Prince is exclusively available online for $29.99, and will remain that way for the coming months. According to Morrissey, “that is very common in streetwear and in consumer goods for our new era of consumers, but it is not common in the drinks industry.” The bottle will show up on shelves in retail spaces later this year.
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