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Pernod takes majority stake in Del Maguey mezcal

Following months of speculation, Pernod Ricard has moved into mezcal through the acquisition of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, the category leader in the US market.

The value of the deal, made through Pernod Ricard USA’s New Brand Ventures division, has not been disclosed, and is expected to close within 90 days.

The Del Maguey management team, including founder Ron Cooper as well as Michael Gardner and Steve Olson, will remain in place, along with existing operations.

In September 2016, Pernod Ricard confirmed to The Spirits Business that mezcal was “in the pipeline”.

Del Maguey was established in 1995 by Cooper, an artist and entrepreneur, and comprises a range of super-premium, hand-crafted mezcals from Oaxaca.

Produced using Zapotec processes, the ‘Single Village’ name references the place where each expression is made.

“We partnered with Pernod Ricard because they understand and appreciate our mission of preserving the culture of the Zapotec people and protecting the traditional process of making mezcal,” said Cooper.

“Through this partnership, our management team will gain increased opportunities to distribute our products to mezcal lovers around the world while also ensuring that the palenqueros – or families we work with – are able to continue crafting their liquid art for generations to come.”

Jeff Agdern, senior vice president of Pernod Ricard USA’s New Brand Ventures Division, commented: “Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal is highly respected by consumers and the industry for its brand authenticity and relationships with local farmer producers.”

He added that the acquisition was possible due to Pernod Ricard Mexico teams that have a “deep appreciation” of the link between mezcal and the economic vitality of the villages where it is produced.

Alexandre Ricard, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard, added: “We are very impressed by Del Maguey’s successful track record and the high quality of their mezcals.

“This partnership illustrates our continued strategy of partnering with dynamic entrepreneurs who share our passion for authentic, high-quality crafted premium products and further extends our fantastic portfolio of genuine brands.”

According to Euromonitor figures, mezcal is one of the fastest growing categories in the US. Between 2010 and 2015, Tequila and mezcal grew 30% by volume in the market – more than any other alcohol category bar Cognac – and faster than the global average, which sits at 22%.

Analyst Nielsen named mezcal as one of its “star performers” in the US on-trade for the 52 weeks to mid-July 2016.

IWSR figures show that global mezcal sales climbed to US$80 million in 2015, with US volumes soaring 279% from 2005-2015, Pernod Ricard cited.

See the June print edition of The Spirits Business for an in-depth interview with Pernod Ricard CEO Alexandre Ricard.

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