The alcohol business, like many industries, is like a collection of Russian nesting dolls, a few corpulent specimens holding a series of increasingly smaller enterprises inside their capacious interiors.
Some examples: Pernod Ricard, which owns, among many others, Absolut Vodka, Jameson Irish Whiskey and Havana Club Rum; Diageo, under whose purview are, to name only a few, Smirnoff, Johnie Walker, Hennessy and Moet & Chandon; and Suntory, whose holdings include Maker’s Mark whisky, Courvoisier brandy and Jim Beam bourbon.
Another giant is Bacardi, founded in Cuba but currently headquartered in Miami. The firm just got a lot bigger with the acquisition of Patron.
Bacardi holds the distinction of being the largest privately held, family-owned spirits company in the world. Their portfolio includes Dewar’s scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin and Grey Goose vodka.
Bacardi’s purchase of Patron, which cost the company US$5.1 billion, is in line with the family’s interest in brands which are perceived, often after years of aggressive marketing, as “top-shelf.” The French vodka Grey Goose, purchased by Bacardi in 2004 for US$5 billion, is a prime example.
Bacardi had already owned a stake in Patron. However, their majority ownership of the company occurred last Tuesday when Patron co-founder John Paul Dejoria sold Bacardi his 70-percent stake. The sale includes not just Patron’s line of “premium” tequilas, but also, to name a few, its coffee-flavored distillate, XO Cafe, and the Poland-based Ultimat Vodka.