Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario whisky maker Forty Creek sold to Italian firm in $186M deal

Gruppo Campari buying all assets of Grimsby, Ont.-based spirits firm; looking to take brand global



GRIMSBY, Ont.—Italian drinks company Gruppo Campari has agreed to buy Ontario whisky maker Forty Creek Distillery Ltd. for $185.6-million.

Gruppo Campari says the deal includes Forty Creek’s stocks, distillery facilities and the hospitality centre in Grimsby, Ont., just southwest of Toronto.

The company, which is best known for its bitters, says the purchase will help increase its presence in United States and international markets where it foresees a rise in consumer demand for brown spirits.

Forty Creek,founded in 1992, produces premium whisky under its brand, and also vodka, brandy, rum and other liqueurs.

Gruppo Campari says John Hall, Forty Creek’s founder, will remain the company’s chairman and whisky maker.

The Italian company says the all-cash deal is expected to close June 2.

“Through this acquisition we enter the very large and appealing Canadian whisky category, thus premiumizing our brand portfolio, driving a richer product mix and further leveraging the revival of brown spirits,” said Jean Jacques Dubau, managing director of North America for Campari.

“Moreover, integrating this business will enable us to internalize key activities in the Canadian market as well as position us for further growth in our core U.S. market.”

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