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Pernod Ricard invests in Italicus aperitivo

French firm Pernod Ricard has invested in super-premium liqueur Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto in a bid to establish it as “one of the world’s most successful aperitivo brands”.

Giuseppe Gallo, founder of Italicus liqueur, will remain CEO

Founded by drinks expert Giuseppe Gallo in September 2016, Italicus is made with two Italian ingredients – bergamot from Calabria and cedro from Sicily. The expression aimed to revive the rosolio aperitivo category.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed and Pernod Ricard has not confirmed if the “strategic” partnership includes a stake acquisition.

The “fast-growing” brand is said to “strengthen” Pernod Ricard’s portfolio and is part of the firm’s Transform and Accelerate plan.

Gilles Bogaert, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard, for Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America, said: “Italicus has experienced a remarkable start, resonating with mixologists and consumers. We are thrilled to add Italicus to the Pernod Ricard portfolio and for the group to help drive its future development.”

Bottled at 20% ABV, Italicus is said to tap into the low-alcohol trend and the “fast-growing market opportunity for both a distinguishable, yet versatile, unique ingredient for bartenders”.

Gallo will remain the active CEO in Italicus’ ongoing development.

“Since its launch the brand has experienced success with both the on-trade and consumers, and it is now time to consolidate with this heavyweight strategic partner in order to accelerate our global distribution,” said Gallo. “We have an ambitious plan to build Italicus into one of the world’s most successful aperitivo brands.”

The deal “reinforces” Pernod Ricard’s ‘speciality brands’ division, which includes Lillet apéritif, Monkey 47 gin, Altos Tequila, Del Maguey mezcal, and Rabbit Hole Bourbon.

Pernod Ricard said its “extensive global distribution network will continue to play an instrumental role in the success of these brands, which have been growing at a double-digit rate, significantly outpacing the industry average”.

During the group’s first half of its fiscal year, Pernod Ricard’s speciality brands portfolio increased by 17% led by Aberlour Scotch whisky which grew 40% in the US.

In 2017, Italicus was named Best New Spirit in Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards.

Pernod Ricard’s “strategic” partnership with Italicus follows a string of new acquisition activity for the group. Last week, the French firm made a “significant investment” in Japan’s Kyoto Distillery.

In the last 12 months, Pernod purchased US spirits firm Castle Brands, super-premium Italian gin brand Malfy, Texan whiskey producer Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co, Kentucky distillery Rabbit Hole and South African spirits producer Inverroche Distillery.

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