Campari buys stake in Howler Head Bourbon
Wild Turkey owner Campari Group has purchased a 15% stake in flavoured Bourbon brand Howler Head for US$15 million.
Italy’s Campari Group agreed to buy the minority stake in the banana-flavoured Bourbon from Catalyst Spirits in a deal that closed today (24 August).
The agreement provides Campari Group with global distribution rights, as well as the option of full ownership of the brand from 2025, depending on its future sales performance.
Launched nationally in the US last year, Howler Head Kentucky Straight Bourbon is described as one of the fastest-growing whiskey brands in the States.
In its first full year of operations, the brand sold more than 50,000 nine-litre cases, mainly in the US and Canada, and generated net sales of US$6.7m.
Since the start of 2022, Howler Head has expanded its operations in North America, entered key global markets, including the UK, and is said to be on target for ‘significant year-over-year growth’.
“Campari Group has a proven track record for building global brands that consumers truly love and we can think of no better partner as we expand distribution of Howler Head around the world, as well as tap into the vast potential that remains in our existing markets of the US, Canada and the UK,” said Simon Hunt, CEO of Catalyst Spirits.
“In our second full year in market, we are witnessing incredible demand for this product and see endless opportunity for growth as we maximise Campari’s established route-to-market expertise, including its vast sales organisation and distributor relationships, both in the US and internationally.”
The whiskey is made at Owensboro-based Green River Distilling Co, using proprietary yeast, grains and mineral-rich water filtered through Kentucky limestone.
The Bourbon is then aged for two years in American white oak barrels with alligator char, and blended with ‘natural’ banana flavour.
Bob Kunze-Concewitz, CEO of Campari Group, noted that Bourbon is one of the company’s “global priority brand pillars”, making Howler Head an “ideal fit” for the firm’s portfolio.
Campari Group’s whisky portfolio currently includes ‘global priority’ brand Wild Turkey Bourbon, and ‘regional priorities’ Forty Creek Canadian whisky and The Glen Grant Scotch whisky.
Howler Head is also the official flavoured whiskey partner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which reaches nearly 700m fans annually, according to UFC president Dana White.
“Howler Head has established a clearly unique brand personality and, through its deep relationship with UFC, has a huge on-tap worldwide fanbase ready to enjoy this fantastic Bourbon,” added Kunze-Concewitz.
Bottled at 40% ABV, Howler Head retails in the US for US$29.99 per 750ml bottle.
In other M&A news, Green River Distilling Co was recently acquired by Bardstown Bourbon Company.