By Richard Thomas
British drinks giant Diageo confirmed yesterday that they were in the process of selling Bushmills, the Northern Irish whiskey company, to Mexican tequila giant Jose Cuervo as part of a swap deal. In exchange for giving up Bushmills, Diageo would receive sole ownership of Don Julio tequila plus a cash payment.
Diageo announced only last week that they were backing down from their plan to invest £1 billion in their expanding their Scotch whisky holdings after the sector’s sales declined during the last year and a half. Yet whereas Scotch is stumbling, Irish whiskey is booming, and Bushmills is one of only three major distilleries in Ireland and Diageo’s only holding in that sector.
On the other hand, Diageo has been trying to expand its stake in the high end tequila market for years. Only two years ago they tried and failed to buy Jose Cuervo itself, and Diageo lost distribution rights to Jose Cuervo tequila in the key U.S. market in 2013.