Seagram's started off as a distillery in 1857. Joseph E. Seagram became a partner of the business in 1869 and then in 1883 became the sole owner. The name of the distillery was changed to Joseph E. Seagram & Sons. In 1824 Samuel Bronfman and his family founded Distillers Corporation Limited which, in part due to prohibition, grew substantially in the 1920's. A distillery in the United States by the name of Greenbrier was purchased by the Bronfmans in 1923 and moved to Lasalle, Quebec. The whiskey produced at this distillery was shipped to bootleggers who then smuggled it to New York and New Jersey.
The Distillers Corporation acquired Joseph E. Seagram & Sons in 1928 from Edward F. Seagram several years after the death of Joseph. The companies merged and kept the Seagram name. With plenty of whiskey in their warehouses they were prepared for the American market at the end of prohibition. When Seagram set up business in America in the 1930's the company had to pay the US government $1.5 million in delinquent taxes from all the illegal whiskey they sold in the county during prohibition. Starting in the 1950's a holding company by the name of Cemp Investments, owned by the 4 children Samuel Bronfman, controlled most of the family holdings of Distillers-Seagram. Seven Crown, VO, and Crown Royal were the highest selling products from Seagram from the 1960's through the 1990's.
Loaded with money and looking to diversify Seagram tried engineering a takeover of major oil & gas producing company Conoco Incorporated. The company Dupont contested this and Seagram lost the bidding war. Seagram did however end up with a 24.3% stake in Dupont and by 1995 was the largest single shareholder of the company. A healthy television campaign to market one of their wine cooler products saw Seagram rise from 5th in distillers to 1st from 1986-1988. In 1987 Seagram took over French cognac maker Martell & Cie for $1.2 billion. Edgar Bronfman Jr. eventually decided he wanted to try his hand at the film and electronic media business and in April of 1995 sold the Seagram stake in Dupont back to Dupont for $9 billion. This move was heavily criticized as the Seagram stake in Dupont accounted for 70% of the companies earnings. The proceeds of this transaction were used to acquire controlling interest in Music Corporation of America, and through them Universal including all of its theme parks. After that Seagram purchased Polygram and Deutsche Grammophon. 5 years later Edgar sold controlling interest in the companies entertainment division to Vivendi, and the beverage division to Diageo and Pernod Ricard. At the time Vivendi started auctioning off Seagram's beverages business their were around 250 drink brands and brand extensions. In 2002 Coca-Cola acquired the line of Seagram mixers from Pernod Ricard and Diageo. The Seagram distillery in Indiana was sold in 2007, and again in 2011 and is now known as MGP of Indiana and continues to be the source of the components of Seagram's Seven Crown, which is still owned by Diageo.