Cochran Departs AQUAhydrate, Takes Top Spot at Tennessee Distillery

Former AQUAhydrate CEO John Cochran

In a move that is certain to raise some eyebrows, John Cochran has departed as CEO of AQUAhydrate and taken the top spot at fast-growing Ole Smoky Distillery.

Although it is unclear if the split was a mutual decision, the timing of Cochran’s exit is somewhat perplexing, particularly after several recent high-profile distribution wins for AQUAhydrate. Nevertheless, Cochran is no stranger to the life of a nomadic beverage executive. Ole Smoky is his third stop since March 2011 when he stepped down as president of Fiji Water Company and became the CEO at Pabst Brewing Co. After a nine month stint with Pabst, he joined AQUAhydrate in January 2012.

At press time, neither Cochran nor executives at AQUAhydrate could not be reached for comment.

Here is Ole Smoky’s statement about the hire:

Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine Appoints John Cochran as New CEO

Tennessee’s First Legal Moonshine Eyes Sales Growth And International Expansion With Hire Of Beverage Industry Expert John Cochran As CEO

GATLINBURG, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine announced today that beverage industry veteran John Cochran has been named chief executive officer (CEO) of the growing spirits brand. Known for leading remarkable growth of the Pabst Blue Ribbon brands, Cochran joins Ole Smoky after most recently serving as CEO of AquaHydrate.

Joe Baker, founder of Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine, stated: “John brings a proven track record of success with Pabst Blue Ribbon, a brand whose target consumer demographic very much aligns with that of Ole Smoky. While we’ve achieved tremendous growth with our current team, leveraging our heritage and local traditions, we’ve now reached a point at which we need to accelerate that growth and guide Ole Smoky into new territory. John is a beverage industry veteran, and his impressive work with Fiji and PBR make him the perfect choice for Ole Smoky’s next chapter. ”

Prior to joining Ole Smoky, Cochran was CEO of AquaHydrate where he spent the past year building the brand for the joint venture between Mark Wahlberg and Sean Combs. A beverage industry authority, Cochran built the Roll Global Fiji brand and developed the premium bottled water category, which he then applied to AquaHydrate, helping each brand achieve rapid success in a crowded category. Prior to his work with AquaHydrate, Cochran served as CEO of Pabst Brewing Company where he rebuilt and revitalized the company’s marquee brand, Pabst Blue Ribbon, transforming it into an iconic American brand.

“I am truly privileged to take on the role of CEO for Ole Smoky Moonshine,” said Cochran. “I absolutely love the product, and am energized by the emergence of moonshine as a more mainstream category. I have a personal affinity for craft distilling and believe that the authenticity of true American brands like Ole Smoky Moonshine connect with consumers in a powerful way. Ole Smoky is a true American success story, and the company has parlayed local traditions into a nationally-distributed brand that has created local jobs in East Tennessee and continues to support its Appalachian heritage. I’m look forward to introducing the Ole Smoky brand to new audiences and to growing the business, both nationally and internationally.”

About Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine

Based on a 200-year-old heritage of making moonshine in the Great Smoky Mountains, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine™ is Tennessee’s first legal moonshine. Based in Gatlinburg, TN, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine retails six flavors of moonshine made from local East Tennessee corn, then manufactured, bottled and shipped directly from the company’s famed distillery. The Ole Smoky Moonshine distillery, known as The Holler, is America’s most visited distillery and produces the brand’s signature 100 proof Original Moonshine, White Lightnin’™, Moonshine Cherries™, Peach Moonshine™, Apple Pie Moonshine™ and Blackberry Moonshine™. In true southern style, each Ole Smoky Moonshine flavor is inspired by the hand-crafted recipes of the Tennessee families who have been bottling moonshine in the smoky mountains for more than a century. Available in 48 states, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine can be found at local retailers and is sampled and sold at some of the biggest music and sporting events in the country.

For more information about Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine, please visit