Brown-Forman (NYSE:BF-A) (NYSE:BF-B), owner of the venerable Jack Daniel's whiskey brand and a number of other high-end spirits, reported first-quarter results earlier today. It looked like business as usual at the firm, but is this enough to justify the stock's premium prices?

Brown-Forman bottled a quarterly sales gain of 17% on strong "consumer demand for the company's premium global brands" and a recent acquisition of Casa Herradura and its high-end tequila brands. A weaker U.S. dollar also helped boost revenue as Jack Daniel's experienced mid-single-digit depletion growth, an industry-wide measure of "shipments from wholesale distributors to retail customers."

Reported earnings advanced only 1%, though by the company's estimates, "underlying earnings" grew 10% after stripping out tequila purchase dilution, a penny gain related to last year's sale of the Lenox crystal business, and a couple of other adjustments it deemed one-time in nature. It should get better as the year progresses, and management expects full-year earnings growth of 7%-13%.

Based on current projections, Brown-Forman's stock trades at more than 21 times earnings, placing it at a premium to archrival Diageo (NYSE:DEO) and Fortune Brands (NYSE:FO), although the latter isn't a pure-play spirits firm. Diageo is also more profitable on a net-margin basis, while Fortune Brands and its flagship Jim Beam Whiskey are being hit by some unfortunate housing-product exposure.

Overall, premium alcohol brands have been experiencing higher growth and profitability trends as consumers shift away from beer made by the likes of Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD) and Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP). Brown-Forman is definitely benefiting from this trend, but I would like to see higher levels of cash flow generation before drinking in the shares. Sure, the company is impressively profitable with net profit margins of 17.5% over the past 12 months, but I'd like to see more growth as compensation for the current lofty earnings multiple.

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann is long shares of Diageo but has no financial interest in any other company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.