The makers of Jameson whiskey, Pernod Ricard, have bought a major stake in Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, according to Fortune. The acquisition will be finalized within 90 days.
Founded in 1995, Del Maguey is one of Food Republic’s go-to mezcal brands, and is a favorite of chefs and well-respected bartenders around the U.S. Founder Ron Cooper won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Profession in 2016. Cooper told Food Republic after receiving the award that Del Maguey was born out of the simple desire to share the smoky spirit.
“I really just did this to make [mezcal] available for me and my friends,” Cooper said, reflecting on his company’s humble roots. “I had to get a license to do that. I had to go into business.”
Now that business appears to have paid off (though the price was undisclosed). Pernod Ricard is clearly looking to capitalize on the popularity of the agave spirit. Mezcal bars have been popping up all over the U.S., and while this is a welcome occurrence, there are some reservations in the industry, ranging from a fear that the uptick in demand for agave could endanger the crop to charges of American imperialism to worries about corporate infiltration of a traditionally family-run type of business.
“Mezcal is easy to love. People are taken in by the history and heritage of it,” Francisco Terrazas, brand ambassador for Mezcal Vago, told us last year. “But the flip side is that the more people want it, the more large corporations are going to try to get a piece of it.”
Pernod Ricard has also recently bought stakes in Smooth Ambler Spirits Co. from West Virginia and Monkey 47, a dry-gin brand, and placed gin maker Plymouth in the same craft-oriented group that will now feature Del Maguey, according to Fortune.