Bacardi Buys Ilegal Mezcal to Enter Premium Agave Spirit Market

The acquisition of the mezcal brand, created by American John Rexer in 2006, had been anticipated in May by Bloomberg

By Bloomberg Línea
September 11, 2023 | 06:30 PM

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Mexico City — Bacardi Limited, the privately held spirits company, has finalized the purchase of Ilegal Mezcal, confirming reports of an imminent transaction for the premium Mexican-made beverage that was also reportedly courted by the L Catterton fund, according to Bloomberg.

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The possibility of an acquisition of Ilegal Mezcal, created by US-based John Rexer in 2006, was anticipated by Bloomberg in May.

The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, while Bloomberg reports pointed to a sum of less than $200 million. The operation would have been for $130 million, according to specialized industry portal Tequila Raiders.

The purchase will allow Bacardi to position itself in the premium agave spirits market, which also includes tequila.

A Jimador, agave field worker, cuts Weber Blue agave at the Patron Spirits Co. plantation in Atotonilco El Alto, Jalisco, Mexico. Photographer: Hector Guerrero/Bloombergdfd

Bacardi said in a statement that it expects this category to be positioned as the sixth largest category globally by 2027. Agave-based beverages contributed $1.6 billion to the alcoholic beverage industry in the United States, one of its main markets to 2022.

“We believe Ilegal has the credentials to own and lead the super premium mezcal category globally,” said Barry Kabalkin, vice president of Bacardi Limited.

The tequila market includes internationally marketed brands such as Diageo’s Don Julio and Becle’s Jose Cuervo. Bacardi already has within its portfolio Tequila Patrón, which it acquired in 2018 for $5.1 billion, as well as the Cazadores, Corzo and Camino Real brands. The company has had an alliance with Ilegal since 2015.

Both tequila and mezcal have appellations of origin in territories in Mexico. Rexter created Ilegal Mezcal in 2016 by the hand of Oaxacan masters, to supply a bar in Guatemala.

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