Campari Group, the world’s sixth-largest spirit company based in Milan, Italy, continues its aggressive expansion strategy. The company announced to spend USD 131 by adding a second distillery at its Wild Turkey campus in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.
The new facility will be designed to produce 5 million additional proof gallons (gallon of spirits that is 50% alcohol) of bourbon (190.000 hl) annually. The investment also includes an expansion to the waste treatment dry house process to increase processing capacity, doubling the current dry house and waste treatment output. In addition Campari Group will upgrade the current barrel filling operation to handle the increased volumes. Operations are scheduled for July 2025.
The Wild Turkey brand and distillery was acquired in 2009 and since then the company has focused on the premiumizing of the Wild Turkey franchise, featuring also the upgrade and growth acceleration of craft bourbon Russell’s Reserve and the launch of small-batch bourbon Longbranch in 2018 in partnership with Matthew McConaughey. In 2017 Campari Group also launched its ultra-premium Whisky Barons Collection, including Old Ripy, Bond&Lillard and William Butler Saffell.
In August 2022, Campari acquired an initial minority interest with path to control in Howler Head, a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey with Natural Banana Flavor, together with exclusive global distribution rights. Lastly, Campari has reached an agreement to purchase an initial 70% interest, with an option to buy the remaining 30% interest in 2031, of the outstanding capital of Wilderness Trail Distillery in October 2022. (inside.beer, 31.10.2022)
With an implied current enterprise value of USD 600 million, the acquisition of the Wilderness Trail Distillery was the second biggest acquisition for Campari after it bought Grand Marnier in 2016.
Besides bourbon, Campari announced in May 2022 to buy French bitter aperitif brand Picon and related assets from Diageo for around EUR 119 million (USD 126m). In July 2022 it became also known that Campari signed an agreement to acquire the super-premium vermouth brand Del Professore.The brand, founded in Rome in 2013 by a group of bartenders led by Leonardo Leuci, offers a rich range of high-quality vermouths and gins.
“We are delighted to announce this important investment and we appreciate the support received by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and the local authorities,” said Ugo Fiorenzo, managing director of Campari America and Canada. “Since 2009, when Campari Group acquired the Wild Turkey Distillery, we have significantly invested in the bourbon category, which now represents Campari Group’s second major leg after the aperitif portfolio. This expansion project confirms, once again, our commitment to this category and it will allow for the continued growth of the Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve franchise, both in the United States and internationally.”
American whiskey is currently among the hottest spirits category in the US market, leveraging the continued positive trend across brown spirits, premium classic cocktail revival and mixology. It accounted for 13% of the total US spirits markets in 2021 in value terms, showing a growth of 7% versus previous year with the super-premium price segment outperforming at +17%.
Founded in 1860, Campari Group is headquartered in Sesto San Giovanni, in the Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy, and owns 23 plants worldwide with its own distribution network in 23 countries. Campari America LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Davide Campari-Milano N.V.