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Campari Bolsters Bourbon Portfolio With $600M Play For Wilderness Trail

October 31, 2022

Campari Group has agreed to acquire a 70% stake in Kentucky-based Wilderness Trail Distillery in a deal that values the business at $600 million. Campari has a call option to acquire the remainder of the company in 2031.

Wilderness Trail, founded in 2012 by Shane Baker and Dr. Pat Heist, had sales of $41 million last year, mostly derived from bulk sales and its visitor center, with its namesake brand accounting for $7 million. EBITDA reached $23 million for the year. The flagship Wilderness Trail Bourbon and Rye offerings retail at around $55 a 750-ml., while the brand’s six- and eight-year-old whiskies start at $75. This year, sales are expected to reach $57 million.

“By adding the fast-growing super-premium Wilderness Trail brand we further expand and premiumize our Bourbon offering, priming it to become Campari Group’s second major leg after the aperitif portfolio,” said Campari Group CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz. He added that the deal gives Campari “the opportunity to significantly expand our production capacity and aging inventory to satisfy the future growth of our premium Bourbons, such as the high potential Whiskey Barons range, currently capped due to capacity constraints.”

Wilderness Trail joins the 800,000-case Wild Turkey brand in Campari Group’s American whiskey stable, as well as higher-priced offerings Russell’s Reserve, Longbranch, and the ultra-premium Whisky Barons Collection, including Old Ripy, Bond & Lillard, and William Butler Saffell. The company also recently took a 15% stake in Howler Head banana-flavored Bourbon for $15 million.—Daniel Marsteller

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