In yet another sign of the stunning rise of mezcal, a majority stake of ownership in Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal will be acquired by Pernod Ricard for an undisclosed amount. The deal is expected to be final within 90 days, pending the “usual condition precedents,” according to a press release from the company.
The rise of mezcal in recent years has been extraordinary. Between 2005 and 2015, the volume of mezcal sold in the United States grew by 279%, according to International Wine and Spirits Research. And beyond the numbers is how the spirit itself is perceived, with high-end bars and ambitious mixologists increasingly incorporating mezcal into their drink programs and cocktail repertoires.
All of this has led to a market ripe with opportunity for a companies like Pernod Ricard and Del Maguey. “Similar to tequila as a category, mezcal is growing as a category as bartenders and consumers show increased [interest] in craftsmanship, and Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal is well positioned—as the pioneer and leader of the category—to further capitalize on this growth,” explained Jeff Agdern, SVP, New Brand Ventures at Pernod Ricard USA, in an email. “With an overall increased interest in Mexican sprits, we think this partnership will be a good complement to our tequila portfolio,” which also includes Altos and Avión.
Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal
A majority stake of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal has [+]
In addition to the business benefits of the partnership, Agdern highlighted, this deal is also a fortuitous joining of philosophies. “The acquisition follows a three-year project by Pernod Ricard Mexico that examined the link between mezcal and the economic vitality of the villages where it’s produced,” he wrote. “Our team had been researching ways to build a small-village brand from scratch, and then share some of the value with the local community without disturbing local customs. In fact, they studied and implemented a replicable pilot that showed how the development of mezcal could increase a community’s well-being.” He added that “Pernod Ricard will integrate the learnings from that project into our partnership with Del Maguey, which already has demonstrated how a leading brand can flourish while respecting the traditions, villages, families, and overall mezcal philosophy that support this growing craft category.”
Del Maguey’s Global Business Leader, Michael Gardner, elaborated on those benefits. “The investment provides increased opportunities to distribute Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal to mezcal aficionados all over the world, while at the same time ensuring the ‘palenqueros,’ or individual family producers, will be able to continue their ancient craft for generations to come,” he explained in an email. “All of Del Maguey’s indigenous employees, its palenqueros, and its weavers will be protected, now as a result of this partnership, and we will continue to hire local, indigenous people in every aspect of production, from agriculture of agave to bottling, packaging and shipping, and they will continue to support each of the villages that they work in, as well as all other mezcal-producing communities in Oaxaca and Puebla.”
In addition, Agdern noted, Del Maguey will gain “expanded distribution resources (particularly from Pernod Ricard USA’s powerful route to market in the U.S.), as well as additional protection and enhancement of Del Maguey’s strong corporate social responsibility practices,” he wrote. “The current Del Maguey management team will continue to market the brand, while Pernod Ricard USA’s New Brand Ventures team will focus on sales and distribution in the U.S, bringing Del Maguey to a wider group of bartenders and consumers across the country.”
With both consumers and professionals growing more and more thirsty for mezcal, it seems as if this transaction is the logical next step in the category’s remarkable growth. And, potentially, a harbinger of more to come.