Pernod acquires majority stake in West Virginia craft distiller

Pernod Ricard has acquired a majority stake in Smooth Ambler Spirits, the West Virginia craft distiller, for an undisclosed sum. 

Smooth Ambler Spirits, founded in 2009, is located in the Greenbier Valley of West Virginia. It produces Smooth Ambler Contradiction bourbon, Old Scout Single Barrel bourbon and other ‘high-end’ spirits.

Alexandre Ricard, Chairman and CEO of Pernod, said: “This investment illustrates perfectly our strategy of partnering with rising entrepreneurs sharing the same passion for authentic, high-quality brands.

“It represents a strong opportunity to enter the fast-growing, high-end bourbon market extending even more our fantastic portfolio of genuine brands in our number one market”.

John Little, Smooth Ambler’s co-founder and head distiller, added: “Smooth Ambler is committed to making great spirits, using the best American ingredients. The investment will enable us to introduce our premium craft spirits to many more consumers.”

Smooth Ambler plans to increase production capacity and expand its local team in West Virginia, Little said.

Under the terms of the transaction, Little will assume the role of CEO and continue to operate the company. John Foster will also remain as director of sales and marketing.

The transaction is currently subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in early 2017.