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Illva Saronno buys majority stake in Sagamore Spirit

Disaronno owner Illva Saronno has entered the American whiskey category after taking a majority stake in Baltimore-based Sagamore Spirit.

Sagamore Spirit
Sagamore Spirit is based in Baltimore, Maryland

Italian company Illva Saronno said the deal would support its long-term growth and strengthen the firm’s US presence.

The move also expands Illva Saronno’s whiskey portfolio, which includes The Busker Irish whiskey.

“We are thrilled to announce this transaction, which supports our portfolio strategy to acquire high-growth, attractive margin brands and, in this case, broaden our offering into the premium American whiskey segment,” said Aldino Marzorati, CEO of Illva Saronno.

“We have always held the US market and this operation allows us to strengthen our portfolio with a company and products that we fully believe in.

“Moreover, the transaction demonstrates our commitment, in line with our strategy, of continuing growth as [a] global leader in the spirits industry and with Sagamore Spirits we have the opportunity to enter the attractive Bourbon whiskey category and exploit its growth potential [in] around 160 countries where we already have a presence with Disaronno.”

The Italian brand selected a new CEO earlier this year, with Marco Ferrari to take on the position next month.

Based in Baltimore, Maryland, Sagamore Spirit was founded in 2013 by Bill McDermond.

Production takes place entirely in Maryland, with water and grain sourced locally.

Illva Saronno will also relocate its North American headquarters from New Jersey to the Baltimore Peninsula area.

Maryland’s ties to whiskey

Robert Cullins, executive vice-president of Disaronno International, said the company chose to acquire Sagamore Spirit due to the history and heritage of rye whiskey made in Maryland, coupled with growth in American whiskey and “rye even outpacing this trend”.

He continued: “Rye as a category is growing at an exceptional pace and the connection to historical whiskey production in Maryland and calling the Baltimore Peninsula ‘home’ made the deal seem like a ‘win-win’ for both sides.”

The distillery will continue to innovate with its mash bill, finishes, age statements and single barrel programme, Cullins added.

Furthermore, Cullins recognises growth opportunities for the brand in “traditional strong whiskey markets in the US like the southeast and southwest, as well as international opportunities in Europe and Asia Pacific”.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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