Pernod Ricard SA is acquiring a majority stake in Del Maguey mezcal, according to people familiar with the matter, a deal that would make it the third major distiller to buy a producer of the Mexican spirit amid soaring demand.
The acquisition of the business, which bottles high-end, small-batch mezcals from the state of Oaxaca, could be announced as early as Wednesday, said one of the people, who asked not to be named discussing private information.
Paris-based Pernod Ricard declined to comment, while Del Maguey did not immediately return calls.
Del Maguey, which was founded by California artist Ron Cooper in 1995, is one of the largest brands in the category, with sales of about $3 million in 2015, up from $386,000 in 2013, according to industry tracker IWSR. Most of its mezcals, made from agave grown in individual villages rather than blended, sell for $170 or more per bottle.
Pernod Ricard is the third major spirits company to reach an agreement with a mezcal producer amid surging demand for the spirit, a cousin to tequila that is distilled from the agave plant. Bacardi acquired a minority stake in Ilegal Mezcal in February, while Diageo signed a distribution agreement with Mezcal Union in February 2016.
Pernod Ricard has recently divested brands such as the Domecq brandies that aren’t central to its business, paving the way to add faster-growing spirits to its arsenal including Smooth Ambler bourbon and Monkey 47 gin.