Bacardi Limited is expanding its spirits empire with the acquisition of artisan mezcal makers Ilegal Mezcal. The acquisition follows a partnership between the two companies dating back to 2015. Financial details were not disclosed.
“We believe that Ilegal has the credentials to own and lead the super-premium mezcal category at a global level,” Bacardi Limited Vice Chairman Barry Kabalkin said in a statement. “Ilegal perfectly complements our portfolio, and bringing it into our business sets the brand up for even greater growth as mezcal captivates more and more consumers.”
Bacardi Limited’s mezcal portfolio already included tequila brands Cazadores and Patrón.
According to drinks market analysis company The IWSR, the “super-premium plus” category of mezcal spirits that Ilegal occupies is anticipated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 16% over the next five years. The broader agave spirits category -- which includes mezcal and tequila -- has overtaken American whiskey as the second largest spirits category in the U.S, and is expected to become the sixth largest category globally by 2027.
Ilegal was founded by John Rexer in 2006, stemming from relationships he’d developed working with small distillers in Oaxaca over the years to make mezcal for his bar in Guatemala. The brand claims it has worked closely with distillers in the region to offer sustainable jobs and play a positive role in preserving the local culture and environment.
According to a statement, Rexer will continue to “guide the vision of the brand” going forward. “Being a part of Bacardi will bring Ilegal to a larger audience while maintaining our commitment to sustainability and growing the business responsibly.”
In a statement, Bacardi Limited CEO Mahesh Madhavan echoed Rexer’s sentiments, committing to collectively build upon “a shared commitment to communities, quality, and environmental sustainability” as the company looks “to invest for the long term.”