International spirits company Bacardi has announced the completion of a transaction that makes it the sole owner of artisanal mezcal brand Ilegal Mezcal.
The transaction follows a working partnership between the two companies, established in 2015.
Ilegal was created by John Rexer in 2006, after the founder worked with small distillers in Oaxaca, Mexico, to make mezcal for his Guatemala-based bar. Ilegal is double distilled in small batches using 100% Espadin agave. The product is described as 100% natural, using no artificial colours, yeasts, flavours or additives.
Following the acquisition, Rexer will continue to guide the brand’s vision, Bacardi confirmed in a statement yesterday (11 September 2023).
Commenting on the acquisition, Rexer said: “Success for Ilegal goes beyond seeing more of our bottles on shelves; it’s about building our business the right way. We will always be committed to artisanal production, the Oaxacan community, and our core values. Being a part of Bacardi will bring Ilegal to a larger audience while maintaining our commitment to sustainability and growing the business responsibly.”
According to IWSR, the super premium plus mezcal category is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16% over the next five years. The United States dominates the category, with 86% of its global market share.
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.”
Bacardi’s spirit and wine portfolio includes more than 200 brands and labels including Bacardi rum, Grey Goose vodka, Patron tequila and Dewar’s Blended Scotch whisky. The family-owned company was founded more than 161 years ago in Santiago de Cuba and now employs approximately 9,000 members of staff. It operates production facilities in ten countries and sells in more than 160 markets.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
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