French firm Pernod Ricard has invested in super-premium mezcal Ojo de Tigre as it seeks to expand its presence in the fast-growing category.
Pernod Ricard did not confirm whether the partnership included the purchase of a minority or majority stake in the brand.
The deal with Ojo de Tigre strengthens Pernod Ricard’s position in the mezcal sector and the brand’s home market of Mexico. Pernod Ricard first moved into mezcal in 2017 when it acquired a majority stake in Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal for an undisclosed sum.
Ojo de Tigre is described as a small-batch mezcal made using sustainable agave from the Tobala and Espadín plants. The Ojo de Tigre range consists of Joven and Reposado mezcals.
It is said to have a “smooth, sweet and herbal” taste profile and is recommended served neat or in cocktails.
Alexandre Ricard, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard, said: “Ojo de Tigre’s authentic origins, mindful production and inviting taste contribute to its strong appeal among consumers. We look forward to a successful collaboration toward the brand’s future development.”
Pernod Ricard said the premium-plus mezcal category is witnessing “strong growth” and is gaining popularity with bartenders and consumers. Mezcal continues to be a hit in the US, where consumption of the agave‐based spirit grew by 40% in 2019, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, compared to 9.3% for Tequila.
Ojo de Tigre, which means eye of the tiger in Spanish, was co-founded by Mexican actor and producer Luis Gerardo Mendez. The brand’s parent company, Mexican spirits firm Casa Lumbre, also created Ancho Reyes liqueur, Montelobos mezcal, Mexican whisky Abasolo and Nixta corn liqueur.
In October last year, Aperol maker Campari Group acquired a controlling stake in Montelobos mezcal and Ancho Reyes liqueur for US$35.7 million.
‘Next generation of drinkers’
Moises Guindi, co-founder of Ojo de Tigre, and co-founder and CEO of Casa Lumbre, said: “We believe the next stage of our beloved category is one that actively invites more drinkers and expands the occasions and uses for mezcal. This expansion will recruit the next generation of drinkers and guide more mezcal lovers through the category and into our super-premium brands.
“We believe Ojo de Tigre is well suited to this task and Pernod Ricard is the perfect partner for this mission.”
The partnership is also in line with Pernod Ricard’s management of its portfolio as part of its Transform and Accelerate plan.
In March this year, Pernod Ricard made a number of investments, including the purchase of the remaining stake in Monkey 47 gin.
The firm also invested in Japan’s Kyoto Distillery, creator of Ki No Bi gin, and super-premium liqueur Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto.
For an in-depth analysis of acquisitions in the mezcal category, click here.