In a strategic move to bolster its presence in the premium mezcal market, Bacardi Limited has announced its acquisition of full ownership of Ilegal Mezcal. While the exact financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, this development signifies Bacardi’s dedication to diversifying its portfolio, extending beyond its famed rum offerings.
“Ilegal has the credentials to dominate the premium mezcal space in the coming years as consumer interest in the beverage grows,” stated Barry Kabalkin, Bacardi’s Vice Chairman, emphasizing the brand’s potential in the evolving mezcal landscape.
Recent data from IWSR, as cited by Bacardi, indicates that the super-premium mezcal category is poised for impressive growth, with a projected compound annual growth rate of 16% over the next five years. Bacardi, renowned primarily for its flagship rum brand, is leveraging its expertise in the spirits industry to meet the surging demand for premium offerings across diverse spirits categories.
In a press release, the spirits giant highlighted that this strategic acquisition positions Bacardi to tap into the expanding interest in agave-based spirits, which encompass mezcal and tequila. According to IWSR data cited by Bacardi, this category is on track to become the sixth-largest globally, with the U.S. boasting an 86% market share of the super-premium mezcal segment.
While tequila must contain a minimum of 51% blue agave to earn its classification, mezcal stands out by allowing the use of over 40 different agave strains. Moreover, the production processes for these two spirits differ significantly, with mezcal requiring the charring of the agave plant used.
Ilegal Mezcal takes pride in its artisanal and sustainable production methods. Crafted in the Oaxaca region of Mexico, it utilizes ripe agave in pit ovens and tahona mills, with no artificial flavors or additives. Established in 2006 by John Rexer, the brand is deeply committed to environmental preservation and local cultural enhancement.
John Rexer expressed his vision for Ilegal’s future under Bacardi’s ownership, stating, “We will always be committed to artisanal production, the Oaxacan community, and our core values.” He added, “Being a part of Bacardi will bring ILEGAL to a larger audience while maintaining our commitment to sustainability and growing the business responsibly.”
Ilegal Mezcal offers a range of three varieties: Joven, characterized by a lightly smoky flavor; Reposado, aged for six months in medium-charred American oak barrels; and Añejo, matured for 13 months in new and used charred oak barrels.
Bacardi, the owner of esteemed brands such as Patrón tequila and Grey Goose vodka, has been strategically investing in recent years to secure its market share in the premium liquor sector. Earlier this year, the company resolved a legal dispute with rapper Jay-Z by acquiring a majority stake in his super-premium cognac brand, D’Ussé, which Bacardi co-developed with the entertainment icon. This move further underscores Bacardi’s commitment to expanding its presence in the dynamic and evolving spirits market.