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News Alert: Apax Funds Takes Control Of Ole Smoky Distillery

February 11, 2022

Tennessee-based Ole Smoky Distillery crossed a key milestone last year, surpassing 1 million cases in volume on 48% growth. Private equity group Apax Funds today announced that it has acquired a controlling stake in the distiller from Centerview Capital for an undisclosed sum.

Centerview Capital invested in Ole Smoky in 2013, with the company quadrupling in size since then.

Ole Smoky founders Joe Baker and Cory Cottongim, and management will remain significant shareholders in the company. The transaction is expected to close by April 2022, subject to customary closing conditions.

Ole Smoky’s four Tennessee distilleries welcomed over 5.7 million visitors last year, breaking the company’s record of 4.5 million, set in 2019. While the bulk of the brand’s sales are in its flavored moonshines and whiskies, the company expanded into Straight Bourbon last year, launching the James Ownby brand of Tennessee Bourbon. SND recently caught up with Ole Smoky CEO Robert Hall to hear more about the state of the growing business.

U.K.-based Apax Funds invests in companies across four global sectors—tech, services, healthcare, and Internet/consumer—and has raised and advised funds with aggregate commitments of more than $60 billion. The firm says it plans to “accelerate the company’s already impressive growth rate, building on the success it has already achieved to date, through continued investment in the core brand, and support the strategic acquisition of complementary brands in American whiskey and adjacent categories.”—Daniel Marsteller

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