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Bacardi buys Ilegal Mezcal

Family-owned Bacardi has completed its purchase of Ilegal Mezcal, six years after the company initially took a minority stake in the brand.

Ilegal Mezcal
Ilegal Mezcal is now part of the Bacardi portfolio

Bacardi took a stake in super-premium brand Ilegal in February 2017, marking its entry into the mezcal category.

The two companies have worked together since 2015.

Barry Kabalkin, vice-chairman of Bacardi, said: “We believe that Ilegal has the credentials to own and lead the super-premium mezcal category at a global level.

“Ilegal perfectly complements our portfolio and bringing it into our business sets the brand up for even greater growth as mezcal captivates more and more consumers.”

Citing IWSR Drinks Market Analysis data, Bacardi said the super-premium-plus mezcal category was expected to increase by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% over the next five years.

Between now and 2027, the agave spirits sector is predicted to become the sixth-largest category globally.

Tequila recently overtook American whiskey to become the second-largest category by value in the US, the IWSR noted.

The US has an 86% global market share of the super-premium mezcal category, according to IWSR 2022 data.

Ilegal was founded in 2006 by John Rexer, who spent years working with small Oaxaca-based distillers to make mezcal for his bar in Guatemala.

The brand is distilled twice in small batches using 100% Espadín agave.

Ilegal claims to use no artificial colours, yeasts, flavours or additives.

The brand has also been certified as an artisanal mezcal by trade body the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal (CRM).

“Bacardi and Ilegal have a shared commitment to communities, quality, and environmental sustainability that we will build upon together as we look to invest for the long term,” added Bacardi CEO Mahesh Madhavan.

“As a family-owned business for seven generations, we are always building for the future to maintain the legacy that is Bacardi.”

The mezcal is available in three varieties: joven, reposado and añejo.

Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Bacardi’s agave spirits portfolio also includes Tequila brands Patrón, Cazadores, Corzo and Camino Real.

Patrón was acquired by Bacardi for US$5.1 billion in April 2018, a decade after the company purchased a 30% stake in the brand.

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