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06.2012

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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BEAM GOES TO NEW HEIGHTS FOR ACQUISITIONS

Beam Inc. is definitely in acquisition mode. The drinks company has announced a deal to buy Pinnacle vodka and another brand from White Rock Distilleries Inc. for around $6OO million. Beam, which was spun off from Fortune Brands Inc. last year, is paying all cash to acquire Pinnacle and rum brand Calico Jack from White Rock Distilleries, a privately owned company with a portfolio of about 5O beverages. Beam has sought to grow its business faster as an independent company. Bourbon, vodka and premixed drinks are anticipated to continue to outperform the overall spirits category because these categories have seen more innovation, analysts say.
Pinnacle vodka is distilled from French wheat grain and then imported by White Rock, which also sells a range of Pinnacle-brand vodkas in 3O flavors including citrus, coconut, marshmallow and cotton candy. Based in Lewiston, Maine, White Rock also sells Epic vodka, as well as tequilas, whiskeys, brandies and cocktails. Beam’s stated goal has been to appeal to consumers by investing in product innovation, and acquisitions are part of that strategy. Last year, it acquired Skinnygirl created by Bethenny Frankel. Beam has built off the popularity of Skinnygirl margarita, which launched in 2OO9, by expanding the line to include sangria and other flavors. Sales of the brand rose by nearly six times last year, according to the company. Beam also acquired Irish-whiskey maker Cooley Distillery for $95 million earlier this year.

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