Bacardi buys minority stake in Ilegal MezcalBy Amy Hopkins
Bacardi has confirmed its acquisition of a minority stake in Ilegal Mezcal, but dismissed speculation that the firm is in discussions to buy a stake in India’s Radico Khaitan.
Ilegal Mezcal received an undisclosed investment from Bermuda-based Bacardi – the world’s largest independent spirits producer – but will continue to operate independently under its founder, John Rexer, maintaining its own business structure and current employees.
The brand, said to be “one of the leading artisanal mezcals” in the US, will be distributed nationally by Southern Glazer’s and will sit under the firm’s Transatlantic Spirits unit.
Southern Glazer’s – formed following the merger of Southern Wine & Spirits of America and Glazer’s Inc – created Transatlantic Spirits in 2016 to handle Bacardi’s portfolio of brands in the US, and also support the sales teams of Heaven Hill and Patrón.
“Mezcals have had to fight tooth and nail for distribution, which is key to the category’s survival and economic stability,” said Gilbert Marquez, lead brand ambassador for Ilegal Mezcal.
“This distribution partnership with Southern Glazer’s is important for all who have helped create Ilegal, from the small family distillers we work with in Oaxaca, Mexico, to guys like me on the street teaching people about mezcal. We’re all very excited about it. I think it will not only be good for us but for the whole mezcal category.”
Ilegal Mezcal launched in 2005 and has a portfolio consisting of three expressions: Joven, Reposado, and Añejo. The brand is known for its guerrilla marketing strategies that are often political in nature.
“We’re not changing,” said Rexer. “The move to the Transatlantic division and the investment by Bacardi will help us do more of what we have done in the past. We will continue to make a great mezcal and market it our way. No way that is stopping.”
Bacardi became the first global spirits company to have a complete mezcal portfolio in Mexico after it became the distributor for Casa Armando Guillermo Prieto in 2013.
Local reports from India this week claimed that Bacardi’s Indian unit was negotiating purchasing a stake in Radico Khaitan, producer of Contessa Rum and Magic Moments Vodka. Radico’s share price increased grew 4% as a result of the speculation.
However, when approached by The Spirits Business, a Bacardi spokesperson said the reports were “not true at all”.