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The US unit of Pernod Ricard has acquired majority control of Rabbit Hole Whiskey, marking the group's return to the Kentucky Bourbon category after a ten-year hiatus.

Rabbit Hole Whiskey was founded in 2012 and today boasts volumes of 15,000 cases per year

Rabbit Hole Whiskey was founded in 2012 and today boasts volumes of 15,000 cases per year

The group announced earlier today that the purchase, for an undisclosed price, was conducted through Pernod Ricard USA's New Brand Ventures division. Rabbit Hole founder Kaveh Zamanian, who set up the craft spirits distiller in 2012, will retain a holding and remain with the company.

Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Rabbit Hole's range includes Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in PX Sherry Casks and London Dry Gin Kentucky Rye Barrel Finish. The company's distillery produces around 1.2m proof gallons, with the company selling in the region of 15,000 cases a year, half of which comprise sales of the straight Bourbon iteration.

Today's announcement comes ten years after Pernod withdrew from the Kentucky Bourbon segment when it offloaded Wild Turkey to Campari Group for US$575m. In 2016, the French spirits group returned to the wider Bourbon category with a majority interest buy in West Virginia's Smooth Ambler whiskey.

"This partnership is the perfect implementation of our long-term investment strategy to create sustainable value," said Pernod CEO Alex Ricard. "Kaveh and I embrace the same entrepreneurial spirit.

"We are excited to take the brand to the next stage of its very promising development."

Zamanian added: "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."

The transaction will complete "shortly".

American Whiskey in the US - Volume Trends 2013-2022

Source: GlobalData

The American whiskey segment of the spirits category is enjoying impressive growth rates in its domestic market. Volumes have jumped from 17.6m nine-litre cases in 2013, to 21.3m in 2017, according to GlobalData. By 2022, American whiskey volumes at home are forecast to hit 27.2m cases, a near-55% rise on ten years prior.

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Expert Analysis

Country Profile: Spirits in the US

Country Profile: Spirits in the US

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