Pernod Ricard Buys George Strait-backed Tequila Brand

Pernod Ricard buys into the celebrity liquor craze.

Isobel Hamilton
Image Credit: KittyKaht:Flickr
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With a few more bucks to his name, the so-called King of Country George Strait should be toasting in Amarillo by morning.

On Monday, Pernod Ricard, the French alcohol conglomerate behind brands like Absolut vodka, Jameson’s whiskey, and many more announced it’s buying a majority stake in Código 1530, the tequila brand co-founded by Strait in 2016.

Celebrity Boozefest

For big time show business icons, the booze game might be more lucrative than the box office. George Clooney sold his tequila company Casamigos to Diageo in 2017, for a price tag reportedly as high as $1 billion. Ryan Reynolds followed suit three years later, selling his Aviation Gin brand to Diageo for $610 million.

But the celebrity name is just half the appeal. This year, Diageo saw sales of “ultra-premium” booze buoy its sales by 20%, with Casamigos sales growing at a rate of almost 96% in 2021. At a price of $68 per bottle, Código 1530 fits the trend. Its sale coincides with a tequila market that’s popping off:

  • Although revenue from vodka sales outpaced tequila in 2021, tequila was the fastest-growing spirit of 2021, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Japanese-American Suntory Holdings, the company behind Jim Beam, signaled earlier this month it wants to hunt down more premium tequila and mezcal brands with one exec telling Yahoo Finance tequila is “absolutely on fire” — how’s that for flaming shots?
  • Suntory CEO Takeshi Niinami told The Financial Times the liquor market is bifurcating due to the rising cost of living, with consumers being driven to both the budget and premium ends of the scale, leaving “standard”-priced drinks out in the cold. Niinami said the US would be the most attractive market going forward, but added he believes the UK would be “resilient,” proving you can always trust Brits to keep drinking through a crisis.

Breaking Fad: Plenty of celebrity-brand liquors are still out there waiting to be snapped up. Breaking Bad co-stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul launched a premium tequila brand Dos Hombres earlier this year. Meanwhile, Dwayne Johnson’s Teremana tequila brand is currently partnered up with Jägermeister. So if you can smell what the Rock is cooking, it’s probably because it’s got tequila in it.

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