The spirits industry is clearly in the middle of acquisition season. On Friday (6.14), Pernod Ricard announced a deal to acquire indie bourbon distillers Rabbit Hole.
“This partnership is the perfect implementation of our long-term investment strategy to create sustainable value. [Rabbit Hole founder] Kaveh [Zamanian] and I embrace the same entrepreneurial spirit,” said Pernod CEO Alexandre Ricard. “Rabbit Hole is a fast-growing brand, strongly rooted in its terroir and very well positioned in the high-end Bourbon and Kentucky whiskey categories. We are excited to take the brand to the next stage of its very promising development.”
Rabbit Hole entered the booming American whiskey market in 2012. The brand is currently sold in 18 states and is projected to produce 15,000 cases in 2019.
The whiskey producer is also renowned for their distillery and visitor center in downtown Louisville. Opened last year, the building is a striking modernist glass and metal heavy structure inspired by Zamanian’s affinity for Mies van der Rohe.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. However, a release from Pernod noted that Zamanian will retain much of his stock and stay onboard to run operations.
“Pernod Ricard and I share the same entrepreneurial values and our ethos and strategic visions are fully aligned,” he said in a statement. “By leveraging Pernod Ricard’s extensive distribution network to reach new consumers, we are able to strengthen Rabbit Hole’s position as a brand and amplify its presence as a new voice in American Whiskey.”
Pernod dropped out of the whiskey game when they sold Wild Turkey back in 2009. However, they are dipping their toes back into the water with this deal as well as their previous purchase of West Virginia based Smooth Ambler.
Both those deals fell under the umbrella of their New Brand Ventures. The Pernod USA subsidiary is focused on smaller, premium brands. Del Maguey is also part of NBV.
The companies expect to clear regulatory hurdles and other red tape required to finalize the handover within 30 days.