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Pernod Ricard lines up Bourbon return with Smooth Ambler stake buy

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Pernod Ricard is set to re-enter the Bourbon market, through the purchase of a majority share in West Virginia-based Smooth Ambler Spirits Co.

Smooth Amblers brands include Contradiction Bourbon and Old Scout Single Barrel Bourbon

Smooth Ambler's brands include Contradiction Bourbon and Old Scout Single Barrel Bourbon

The France-based drinks firm offloaded the Wild Turkey brand back in 2009, in order to pay off its purchase of Absolut owner Vin & Sprit. Late yesterday, the group announced its intention to buy an unspecified stake in Smooth Ambler for an unspecified amount.

The transaction includes Contradiction Bourbon, Old Scout Single Barrel Bourbon and other "high-end" spirits. Last year, Smooth Ambler posted total volumes of 10,000 cases.

As part of the deal, Pernod Ricard USA will distribute Smooth Ambler's brands. Distillery founder John Little will take on the role of CEO at Smooth Ambler. 

"This investment illustrates perfectly our strategy of partnering with rising entrepreneurs sharing the same passion for authentic, high-quality brands," said CEO Alexandre Alexandre Ricard. "It represents a strong opportunity to enter the fast-growing, high-end Bourbon market extending even more our fantastic portfolio of genuine brands in our number one market".

The deal, made through the firm's US NBV Investments arm, is expected to close early next year.

Earlier this year, Pernod was linked to the purchase of Utah's High West Distillery, although the craft distiller was later snapped up by Constellation Brands.

Remy Cointreau also made a play for American whiskey this month, with the purchase of Seattle-based Westland.

Craft spirits shake-out will be just the beginning - Click here for a just-drinks comment


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