Constellation Brands buys whiskey maker High West Distillery for $160M

By Allen Cone   |   Oct. 5, 2016 at 10:33 AM
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VICTOR, N.Y., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Constellation Brands, a leading beverage alcohol company, has entered the high-end whiskey market with the purchase of High West Distillery, company officials announced Wednesday.

The transaction was worth about $160 million, The Wall Street Journal reported.

High West Distillery, which was founded in 2004 by husband and wife David and Jane Perkins in Park City, Utah, sells around 70,000 cases a year from such brands as American Prairie Bourbon, Double Rye!, Rendezvous Rye and Campfire, the only blend of Scotch, bourbon and rye whiskeys on the market, according to the company in a Consellation release.

High West, which has grown by double digits annually over the past three years, is the first legal distillery in the state of Utah since 1870. High West opened a distillery in 2014 outside Park CIty in Wanship, Utah, and it serves as a visitor's center for touring and tasting. In all it has four locations.

New York-based Constellation is the No. 3 beer company in the U.S. with brands that include Corona Extra, Corona Light, Modelo Especial, Modelo Negra and Pacifico. It also included Ballast Point, a renowned craft brewer

In addition, Constellation sells wine, including Robert Mondavi, Clos du Bois, Kim Crawford, Meiomi, Mark West, Franciscan Estate, Ruffino and Jackson-Triggs. Spirits brands include SVEDKA Vodka and Casa Noble Tequila.

In the past year, Constellation acquired luxury winemaker Prisoner Wine Co. and craft brewer Ballast Point.

"This (acquisition) is foundational for us to build a truly significant craft spirits business and fill out the third leg of our stool," said Bill Newlands, Constellation's president of wine and spirits. "With the addition of High West, Constellation Brands bolsters its position in the dynamic and growing craft spirits category."

High West's 200 employees will remain with the company.

Founder David Perkins will continue to serve as a brand ambassador and High West Chief Executive John Esposito will continue to run the business.

Rye whiskey sales have skyrocketed -- 609 percent between 2009 and 2014 to more to more than $106 million in producer revenue between 2009 and 2014, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

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