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Bacardi nears deal to buy Ilegal Mezcal

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Bacardi, the Bermuda-based spirits group, is nearing a deal to acquire spirits brand Ilegal Mezcal at less than $200 million, Bloomberg reports citing sources.

Why it matters: Spirits surpassed beer in U.S. market share in 2022 for the first time, fueled by cocktail culture.

Details: Bacardi is an existing investor in the brand alongside PE firm VMG Partners and has the right of first refusal in a sale, Bloomberg wrote.

  • The bidder invested in the maker of mezcal, which is made from agave, back in 2017.

Catch up fast: Ilegal Mezcal's founding goes back to 2004, when John Rexer stocked his bar in Guatemala with the liquor from Oaxaca, Mexico, per Bloomberg.

Flashback: Family-owned Bacardi is not new to dealmaking, picking up tequila maker Patrón for $5.1 billion in 2018.

State of play: As the popularity of tequila and mezcal has grown, spirits conglomerates have been active in making investments in the space.

  • Pernod Ricard acquired a majority stake in Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal in 2017.
  • The spirits maker then bought a majority stake in Código 1530 Tequila last year.
  • Davide Campari-Milano, meanwhile, acquired Montelobos Mezcal in 2019 and Diageo bought Mezcal Unión in 2021 via a deal for Casa UM in 2021.

Neither Bacardi nor Ilegal Mezcal responded to a request for comment.

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