Wilderness Trail Distillery Bought by Campari at $600M Valuation

Wilderness Trail
Wilderness Trail Distillery

Bourbon is big business. Earlier this week, the news dropped that spirits giant Campari (Milan, Italy based) is set to buy a 70% stake in Danville, Kentucky’s “Wilderness Trail Distillery” (WTD) for a cool $420 mill. The distillery’s overall value being placed at $600M.

Not bad for a juice maker that opened in 2012 with a small 250 gallon pot still that made about a barrel (53 gallons) a day. The remaining 30% is set for acquirement in 2031, based on the outstanding capital of Wilderness Trail.

Campari already has skin in the Kentucky Bourbon game as it bought Wild Turkey outright from Pernod Ricard in 2009 for $575M. Shows you how much has changed in a little over a decade. Barely decade old WTD has a higher evaluation now versus global institution Wild Turkey when it was acquired. I’m sure the bean counters at Campari are quite happy now with their 2009 purchase. Some notable brands in their portfolio include Aperol, Campari (duh), Skyy Vodka, and Grand Marnier.

About Wilderness Trail

WTD was founded by Shane Baker and Dr. Patrick Heist. The two are highly respected yeast and fermentation experts in the distilling, brewing and wine making industries. Their joint business, Ferm Solutions, established 2006, has provided its scientific expertise to alcohol making operations across the globe.

Shane Baker and Pat Heist

Prior to Ferm Solutions, Baker and Heist go back to undergrad at the University of Kentucky. Baker would get his mechanical engineering degree as Heist would pursue microbiology with a Ph.D. in plant pathology. It appears the two “chose wisely” on starting their own distillery. But being the science buffs they are, I’m sure they’ll tell you knowledge is the only true reward;).

Acquisitions and big investments in the industry are becoming more and more the standard. Case in point:

It will be interesting to see the next big acquisition move in the industry.