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Ole Smoky merges with Tequila maker

Tennessee-based Ole Smoky Distillery has entered the Tequila category after agreeing to a merger with Tanteo Spirits.

Tanteo Tequila
The Tanteo Tequila range is infused with red peppers

Moonshine and whiskey producer Ole Smoky said the deal – terms of which were not disclosed – is part of the company’s plan to diversify its portfolio across other ‘high-growth’ spirits categories.

Tanteo Spirits is described as one of the fastest-growing ultra-premium Tequila companies.

The firm’s namesake Tequila brand was launched in January 2009 in New York City and is available in bars, restaurants and spirits retailers across the US.

Tanteo Tequila is known for being infused with red peppers and is distilled in partnership with Destilladora Juanacatlán, a cooperative of more than 70 agave growers in Mexico.

Inspired by the spicy Margarita, Tanteo produces four infused Tequilas: ‘spicy’ Jalapeño, ‘extra-spicy’ Habanero, ‘smoky’ Chipotle, and seasonal expression Navidad, alongside an ultra-premium blanco and the premium Espero brand.

In 2022, the company sold more than 70,000 nine-litre cases.

Tanteo CEO Neil Grosscup and the management team will remain with the company following the merger.

“Tanteo was created to perfect the spicy Margarita through its artisanal infusion process, use of real peppers, and commitment to doing things the right way,” said Grosscup. “We are thrilled to join the Ole Smoky team and look forward to taking the brand to new heights while maintaining the high standards that our loyal consumers expect.”

The combined company will leverage Ole Smoky’s infrastructure and its sales and distribution network to ‘significantly accelerate’ Tanteo’s growth.

“Ole Smoky continues to be one of the fastest-growing spirits brands in the country,” added Robert Hall, Ole Smoky’s CEO.

“The addition of Tanteo to our portfolio further exemplifies the quality and reputation that we pride ourselves on, and we are excited to leverage our resources to introduce the Tanteo brand to even more consumers across the country.”

Founded in 2010, Ole Smoky claims to be the largest craft distiller in the US. It was also the world’s most visited distillery, hosting more than 5.3 million guests collectively across its four Tennessee sites last year.

Ole Smoky cited Nielsen sales data for 2022 that stated the company’s sales soared by 53.3% year on year, ‘significantly outpacing’ the American whiskey category, which grew by 1.9% over the same period.

According to The Brand Champions 2023 report, Ole Smoky sold 1.2m nine-litre cases of its whiskey and moonshine last year – an increase of 22.1% on the previous year.

In September last year, Patricof, a private investment platform for elite professional athletes, made a ‘strategic’ investment in Ole Smoky Distillery.

Patricof followed in the footsteps of Apax Partners, which bought a controlling stake in the Tennessee-based distiller in March 2022.

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