Beverage behemoth Diageo is selling 19 brands of spirits, including Seagrams VO Canadian whisky and Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps, to Sazerac for $550 million.It’s the latest move taken by Diageo – based in London, with U.S. headquarters in Norwalk – in recent years to focus on such premium labels as Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff in the U.S. During that time it has sold interests in wine, Red Stripe beer and the Gleneagles hotel and golf resort in the U.K.
The sale also includes whisky brands Seagram’s 83 and Seagram’s Five Star, plus Myers’s Rum. The company said it believes the sale will improve growth in its U.S. spirits business by 40 to 50 points as more consumers opt for premium labels. Diageo made news earlier this year by acquiring ultra-premium mezcal brand Pierde Almas, and last year by buying George Clooney’s tequila Casamigos.
U.S. liquor sales hit a record $26.2 billion in 2017, driven by high-end products in the bourbon, tequila and vodka sectors, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.
Diageo said it expects the Sazerac deal to close in early 2019. Based in Metairie, Louisiana, Sazerac’s brands include bourbons Pappy Van Winkle and Buffalo Trace.