Auckland-founded Stolen Spirits has sold a $21 million majority stake to Chicago-based Liquid Asset Brands.

Stolen was started in 2010 in a one-bedroom Mt Eden flat by Jamie Duff and Roger Holmes, after Duff quit his career as a lawyer at a top investment bank in London and returned to New Zealand.

The funds will be used to help with business expansion into the United States.

The company would not disclose the portion of the company that Liquid Asset Brands (LAB) held but said it would be business as usual for the company and its team.


According to 39-year-old Duff, the idea for the brand came directly from his embarrassment at "all the uncool rum brands in the market", adding that he thought rum was unfairly portrayed - something that needed changing.

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Since then, the company has produced four internationally awarded rums - Stolen Dark, Stolen Spiced, Stolen Gold and Stolen White.

Duff attributed its success to the strength of the premium product and its marketing, as well as the young, entrepreneurial team.

Jamie Duff (left) and Roger Holmes, co-founders of Auckland's Stolen Rum. Photo / NZ Herald
Jamie Duff (left) and Roger Holmes, co-founders of Auckland's Stolen Rum. Photo / NZ Herald

"It was always my dream to take the Stolen brand to the US - the most dynamic spirits market in the world," Duff said.

"We're very fortunate to work with Liquid Asset Brands as our global partner, which will enable us to do everything we want to do with this brand," he said, "not only expanding into US markets but also developing Stolen product extensions."

Duff said the company aimed to launch the products, including its new Smoked Rum, into six or eight states initially and would continue sales efforts in Australia and New Zealand.

LAB invests in early-stage drinks firms and is led by Marc Bushala, who said he saw huge opportunity with Stolen as consumer trends changed to more boutique, high-quality spirits.

"I am thrilled with our investment in Stolen. We consider it to be one of the best emerging spirit brands to come to market in the last few years," Bushala said.

Kyle Melnyk, Stolen's Australasian chief executive, said the investment was the biggest milestone in the company's history and the deal would also allow the firm to remain private.