Campari Group acquires stake in Kentucky bourbon whiskey brand Howler Head

US – Italian alcoholic liqueur manufacturer, Campari Group, has gone for a 15% stake in Kentucky-based bourbon whiskey brand, Howler Head, paying US$15 million in cash.

The agreement opens a path to total ownership and exclusive global distribution rights for the brand currently available and marketed in the US and Canada, and recently expanded to the UK.

The Italian group said it will have the option to buy 100% of the brand only subject to future results, which can be exercised from 2025.

The call option valuations imply compelling growth of Howler Head case sales and revenue at each stage of the transaction in the future.

Launched nationally in the US last year, Howler Head Kentucky Straight Bourbon with 40% ABV is described as one of the fastest-growing whiskey brands in the United States.

The whiskey is said to be made at Owensboro-based Green River Distilling Co., using proprietary yeast, grains, and mineral-rich water filtered through Kentucky limestone.

The Bourbon is then aged for two years in American white oak barrels with alligator char and blended with ‘natural’ banana flavor.

In its first full year of operations, the brand sold over 50,000 9-L cases primary to the US and Canada markets only and generated overall net sales of US$6.7 million, the company revealed.

 

Since the beginning of 2022, Howler Head has expanded its operations in the US, Canada, and the UK while also seeking to enter into other international markets, with an ambition of “significant year-over-year growth.”

Simon Hunt, CEO of Catalyst Spirits, stated: “In our second full year in the market, we are witnessing incredible demand for this product and see an endless opportunity for growth as we maximize Campari’s established route-to-market expertise, including its vast sales organization and distributor relationships, both in the US and internationally.”

In addition, Howler Head is the official flavored whiskey partner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) which attracts a huge following in the USA.

Bob Kunze-Concewitz, CEO of Campari Group, noted that Bourbon is one of the company’s “global priority brand pillars”, making Howler Head an “ideal fit” for the firm’s portfolio.

Campari Group’s whisky portfolio currently includes ‘global priority’ brand Wild Turkey Bourbon, and ‘regional priorities’ Forty Creek Canadian whisky and The Glen Grant Scotch whisky.

He added that Howler Head’s exceptionally high-quality liquid, Howler Head has established a clearly unique brand personality and, through its deep relationship with UFC, has a huge on-tap worldwide fanbase ready to enjoy this fantastic bourbon.

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