It’s Suntory Time! Japanese Player Jumps into the American Whiskey Game, Acquires Beam

Bill Murray’s Iconic Suntory Scene in 2003′s Lost In Translation (via FT)

For those of us already in the industry, we’ve seen a large number of major acquisitions and consolidations over the past several years.  These kinds of deals are increasingly common.  Beam, whose portfolio includes global bourbon behemoth Jim Beam, plus other high-performing brands like Maker’s Mark, Cruzan and Pinnacle Vodka, has been purchased for $13.6 billion from Japanese company Suntory (perhaps best known by name for its ridiculously awesome role in the amazing Lost in Translation).

The buyout details aren’t necessarily relevant to the average whiskey-slinging woman.  Instead, here are two small but important takeaways:

1)      American Whiskey isn’t just local, it’s global.   Yes, it’s made on our home turf, but American Whiskey has a global presence.  Not only are some of the largest brands here owned by foreign companies (like Wild Turkey, owned by Campari), but a massive percentage of product made here in the States is now allocated for sale in foreign markets.  Last year, Jack Daniel’s sold more whiskey outside the U.S. than in the U.S.  That’s a pretty staggering fact.

2)      American Whiskey continues to thrive.  Beam has been an acquisition target for the last few years because of the stunning growth rate of our beloved American Whiskey category.  This is great news for both the producer and the consumer, as the number of American Whiskey products on shelves continues to grow.  The growth is fueling great innovation, new flavors and experiments, different techniques in aging, and in turn (and most importantly), drawing in new whiskey drinkers.

It’ll be exciting to watch what happens next.

 

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