Molson Coors Beverage Company is investing £5 million in its new hard seltzer brand Three Fold. The move marks the biggest brand investment the company has ever made into a new category in the UK.

Molson Coors was an early mover in the hard seltzer category last year, after signing an exclusive distribution agreement with Bodega Bay, the first premium seltzer in the UK market.

The move follows the rapid growth of the hard seltzer category in the US, where retail sales reached $2.7billion in the 12 months to June last year.  Molson Coors has seen success in that market with hard seltzer brands Coors Seltzer, Vizzy Hard Seltzer and Proof Point Spirited Seltzer.

Hard Seltzer products already command a 2.6% market share of all beverage alcohol in the US, according to drinks market analysts IWSR, up from less than 1% a year ago and ahead of the leading spirit Vodka. IWSR also predict that sales volumes will more than triple in the next three years.

Charlotte Revill, brand manager at Molson Coors, said: “All the signs point to hard seltzers being the next drinks category to firmly establish itself in the UK. We expect its rapid growth in the US to be mirrored here and a major investment in our own product is to ensure that we, and our customers, are at the forefront of this quickly emerging category.

“Three Fold was conceived with mainstream adult appeal in mind, taking recognisable flavour combinations, evolved with the lighter, fresher profile that hard seltzers offer. Consumer taste tests have been resoundingly positive, with our range preferred to an extensive competitor set, and it’s incredibly exciting to see it on shelves at some of the UK’s best-known retailers.”

Three Fold, which launched at the end of last year through the brand’s own e-commerce site, is now available in Morrisons, off-license chain Bargain Booze and through the UK’s largest wholesaler Bestway, having secured new permanent listings in May. It is also now available through Molson Coors’ direct-to-consumer website Revl and the brewer anticipates adding more listings through the course of this year.

Revill said: “The sales performance of hard seltzers speaks for itself and is far higher than normally expected of a new category entrant to the market. Three Fold has certainly followed this trend and sales through our new listing with Morrisons have significantly exceeded expectations.”

Three Fold hard seltzer comes in three fruity varieties – Red Berries, Tropical and Citrus – is naturally vegan and gluten-free, and each 33cl can contains 4% alcohol by volume and 93 calories. It is sold as single cans and a variety six-pack.

The investment in the brand includes a comprehensive digital, social and out-of-home media campaign. In a new sponsorship deal, Three Fold will also be the official ‘finisher drink’ at the annual Tough Mudder, one of the world’s most famous mud runs.

The launch of the brand campaign is the latest step from Molson Coors in ramping up its expansion beyond beer and cider. The brewer recently launched the Beverage Hub – a specialist team focused on building the company’s growing portfolio in fast-growth emerging categories such as Ready-to-Drink, adult soft drinks and premium spirits.

Recent distribution partnerships secured through the Beverage Hub include Jimmy’s Coffee, mixer brand Lixir Drinks and Tarquin’s Gin and Twin Fin Rum.