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Sazerac Enters India With John Distilleries Deal

October 19, 2017

Sazerac Co. has acquired an equity stake in India’s John Distilleries. Sazerac declined to specify the size of the stake, but The Times of India reports that it amounts to a 28% share. Sazerac purchased the equity stake from Gaja Capital, with plans to buy an additional 15% from Gaja within the next two years. The group’s chairman, Paul John, retains majority control of the company, which has gross revenues of about $430 million. Established in 1996, the John Distilleries domestic portfolio is led by its flagship Original Choice Whisky, which the Bangalore, India-based spirits group reports has sales of more than 11 million cases annually, out of a total portfolio of roughly 13 million cases. The company also produces Mont Castle Brandy, Roulette Brandy, Big Banyan wines and Paul John Single Malt Whisky, among other brands.

In the U.S., the Paul John single malt is the focus, and that portfolio includes Brilliance ($60), Edited ($65), Select Cask Classic ($95) and Select Cask Peated ($100), as well as Paul John Bold ($75), a peated single malt whisky expression that launched in the U.S. this past summer. The Paul John single malt range was first introduced in the U.K. in 2012 and launched in the U.S. market last year, handled by Domaine Select. The whiskies have received widespread critical acclaim, with Paul John Single Cask Whisky P1-163 garnering a 91-point rating from Whisky Advocate, and Paul John Brilliance and Paul John Select Cask Peated both scoring 88 points.

The Paul John single malt is targeting total volume of 12,000-15,000 cases in the U.S. for 2017. The brand skews 75% off-premise and 25% on-premise. Top retail accounts include USA Wine Traders Club, Buy-Rite Liquor, Town Wine & Spirits, Mission Liquor and Total Wine & More.—Christina Jelski

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