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Bacardi buys into Bourbon boom

Bacardi has stepped into the buoyant Bourbon market with the acquisition of Angels Share Brands, including its Louisville Distilling Co subsidiary and Angel’s Envy brand.

Angel's EnvyThe deal, which was completed for an undisclosed sum, will see Angel’s Envy continue as a standalone operation, with plans remaining in place for a new distillery and “brand experience center” to open in 2016.

Founded by the late Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson, whose son Wes Henderson remains with the company as global brand ambassador, Angel’s Envy is blended in small batches of 8-12 barrels, with the idea that each batch develops its own individual nuances.

The range currently features three styles: a Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey finished in Port casks, a rye-finished expression and a cask strength whiskey.

This move by Bacardi follows predictions that sales of whisky in the US would move ahead of vodka last year for the first time since 2007, with Bourbon driving category growth.

According to figures quoted by Bacardi, the American straight whiskey category is currently growing at a rate of “nearly 5%”, while the super-premium American straight segment has enjoyed “nearly 10%” growth during the same period.

Meanwhile 2014 saw the Kentucky Distillers’ Association report the highest production level for over 40 years, with other major drinks companies already moving to tap into this opportunity – Diageo’s new $115 million Kentucky distillery is due to open next year.

Commenting on this latest addition to the Bacardi portfolio, CEO Mike Dolan said: “We have a clear strategy aligned to meet consumer needs in premium spirits and are building an even stronger portfolio through innovation and acquisition. The purchase of Angel’s Share Brands and the Angel’s Envy portfolio further reinforces our commitment to growing the super-premium spirits sector.”

Barry Kabalkin, vice-chairman of Bacardi highlighted the company’s “long history of successful acquisitions of cutting-edge brands” as he commented: “Bacardi looks for the gems of innovation in the spirits world to complement our premium and super-premium brands, and Angel’s Envy is a natural fit for our portfolio.”

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