KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A group of top professional athletes, including Maryville native Randall Cobb, have announced an investment into popular Gatlinburg-based spirits company Ole Smoky Distillery.

The company on Thursday announced a strategic investment from Patricof Co, a private investment platform for elite professional athletes. Participating investors include Maryville native and NFL Pro Bowler Randall Cobb, 4-time NBA All-Star Kemba Walker, fantasy football analyst Matthew Berry and former Tennessee Titans linebacker Will Compton.

“As a Tennessee native, I know how much Ole Smoky means to the community, from their four local distilleries to their charitable work protecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” Randall Cobb said in a press release. “I’m excited to become a part of the Ole Smoky family, and I’m looking forward to supporting this home-grown business as it furthers the great Tennessee distilling legacy.”

Ole Smoky Distillery became the first federally-licensed distillery in East Tennessee history when it was founded in 2010 and has grown into the largest craft distiller in the U.S now sold in all 50 states and over 20 countries worldwide. Ole Smoky Distillery has been listed on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing companies every year since 2017.

The investment comes after investment banking firm Apex Partners acquired a controlling stake in the company in March 2022, according to a press release.

“Ole Smoky is a true pioneer in the spirits industry and the business continues to thrive, with year-to-date sales pacing to significantly beat our 2021 record of over 1 million 9L cases,” said Robert Hall, CEO, Ole Smoky Distillery. “With P/Co’s consumer expertise and celebrity athlete power, we believe we can accelerate our impressive trajectory as we enter the next chapter of our business.”

Tennessee is home to four Ole Smoky distilleries: The Holler and The Barrelhouse in Gatlinburg, The Barn in Pigeon Forge, and 6th & Peabody in Nashville. It is one of the most visited distilleries in the world, welcoming over 5.7 million visitors in 2021.