Pernod Ricard creates dedicated American whiskey unit

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags whiskey American whiskey Pernod ricard

Eying up strong growth – and strong growth potential - of its American whiskey portfolio, Pernod Ricard is creating a dedicated business unit called ‘The American Whiskey Collective’ to manage marketing and production of its premium challenger brands.

American whiskey volume in the US has been accelerating over the last decade, shooting up from 16 million 9-liter cases in 2011 to 29.7 million in 2021, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Exports of American whiskey also have been enjoying strong growth, with annual sales now exceeding 20 million cases.

Pernod Ricard USA expects American whiskey sales to account for a ‘significant amount’ of its total volumes within the next 5-10 years, with ‘enormous growth potential’ in exports as well.

As a relatively new entrant in American Whiskey (in Irish whiskey and Scotch it owns heavyweights such as Jameson and Ballantine’s), Pernod Ricard is building up its American whiskey portfolio with newer brands: citing its goal to identify, nurture and scale American whiskies that can break tradition and redefine the category​.

In 2017 it acquired West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler; followed by Jefferson’s bourbon via its Castle Brands acquisition in 2019; alongside Texas’ TX and Kentucky’s Rabbit Hole in 2019. 

The American Whiskey Collective will create more uniform ways of working based on best practice sharing among brands. "We are committed to ensuring that the infrastructure, marketing investment levels and innovation support behind each of our brands are in line with our overall ambition,” ​said Ann Mukherjee, Chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard North America.

“The result will be further accelerated growth from a 'new fashioned' whiskey portfolio focused on pushing boundaries rather than adhering strictly to tradition."

The American Whiskey Collective will be led by Pernod Ricard veteran marketing leader Craig Johnson, who is appointed to Pernod Ricard USA's executive team, and Jessica Chen, a seasoned Operations executive who is named VP, Operations, American whiskies. Johnson will report to Mukherjee, and Chen will report to Pierre Joncourt, SVP, Operations, Pernod Ricard North America.

With the new division, Pernod Ricard hopes to replicate the success of two similar entities  - the Gin Hub and House of Tequila – which have been created in recent years to drive growth in their respective categories.

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