October 4, 2016 – Constellation Brands has won the bidding for Utah’s High West Distillery in a deal valued at approximately $160 million (USD). According to the Wall Street Journal, the New York-based wine and spirits company beat out several other bidders, including Pernod Ricard and Glenmorangie parent LVMH Moët Hennessy. Constellation is best-known for its Corona, Robert Mondavi, and Clos du Bois beer and wine brands, but also owns Black Velvet Canadian Whisky. The company is reportedly seeking offers for its extensive portfolio of Canadian wineries in a deal that could be worth as much as $1 billion.
While Constellation executives have not commented on the Canadian asset sale, such a move would be in line with the company’s goals of focusing on premium brands in the US. Former Beam US President Bill Newlands now runs Constellation’s wine and spirits business, and told the Wall Street Journal that the High West deal will help Constellation build a “truly significant” craft spirits business. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the month, with all of High West’s 200 employees at the original distillery and restaurant in Park City and a distillery in Wanship to retain their jobs.
That includes High West co-founder David Perkins, who turned over day-to-day management to former Bacardi executive John Esposito last year. Esposito will continue to run High West and report directly to Newlands, while Perkins will continue to work in product development with master distiller Brendan Coyle and serve as a “brand ambassador.” According to the Journal report, Perkins saw the partnership with Constellation as necessary to continue the company’s expansion in Wanship, where he opened the second distillery in late 2014 as part of a ranch resort development. Constellation is expected to fund the addition of a second still that will increase production by up to 50,000 additional cases of whiskey per year.
This story will be updated with additional information.