USA/Italy: Campari buys craft distiller Wilderness Trail

Davide Campari-Milano N.V. (Campari Group), the world’s sixth-largest spirit company based in Milan, Italy, announced today it 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, LLC.

With an implied current enterprise value of USD 600 million, this is the second biggest acquisition for Campari after it bought Grand Marnier in 2016. In May 2022, Campari already announced to buy French bitter aperitif brand Picon and related assets from Diageo for around 119 million euros (USD 126m),

Wilderness Trail Distillery, located in Danville, Kentucky, USA, was launched in 2012 as a ‘premium craft distillery’ with a clear focus on making the highest quality bourbon and rye whiskey. Leveraging the advanced and versatile operational infrastructure, the founders launched in 2018 two premium proprietary Wilderness Trail expressions: Wilderness Trail Bourbon and Wilderness Trail Rye Whiskey. The portfolio has been further premiumised with the introduction of the highend silver label 6-year and 8-year bourbon line for a deeper and mature flavour. The average selling prices range from USD 55 for the 75cl Wilderness Trail Bourbon to USD 75+ for the 6 & 8-year old bourbon expressions. The founders and current shareholders, Shane Baker and Dr. Pat Heist, are fermentation experts with more than 20 years’ experience in the production of whiskey, consistently recognised as pioneers in the engineering, research and development, fermentation and distilling activities. The distillery’s proprietary infusion mashing process and sweet mash technique have a highly flexible output driven by the multiple mash bills and yeast strains, crafting bourbons and rye whiskeys with distinctive flavours.

Bob Kunze-Concewitz, Chief Executive Officer Campari Group: ‘We are very excited to take a controlling interest in worldclass Wilderness Trail Distillery. By adding the fast-growing super premium Wilderness Trail brand we further expand and premiumise our bourbon offering, priming it to become Campari Group’s second major leg after the aperitif portfolio. Moreover, we accelerate our premiumisation journey, further enriching our RARE portfolio, the division aimed to unlock and accelerate the growth potential of a select range of high-end individual expressions in our core premium spirits markets. In addition, we have the opportunity to significantly expand our production capacity and ageing inventory to satisfy the future growth of our premium bourbons, such as the high potential Whiskey Barons range, currently capped due to capacity constraints. We are very excited to partner with such a strong team of industry pioneers and distilling experts allowing us to accelerate and significantly expand the innovation platform for our bourbon portfolio’.

Shane Baker and Dr. Pat Heist, Co-Founders of Wilderness Trail Distillery: ‘We are thrilled about our partnership with Campari Group. Premium bourbon and rye whiskies and state-of-the art production facilities coupled with worldwide distribution, first class marketing and expertise across multiple spirit categories provide the perfect foundation for the continued success of the Wilderness Trail brand and ensure it will be enjoyed around the world for years to come. This is a win-win situation for both parties and we are very proud of this partnership and what we can achieve together with our shared vision’.

Share this article: