Following an ongoing strategy of investing in American whiskey, Pernod Ricard has launched a dedicated business unit for the segment, The American Whiskey Collective.
This new entity will manage marketing and production of Pernod Ricard’s American whiskey brands. In recent years, this portfolio has grown significantly, following acquisitions or investments in Firestone & Robertson Distilling, Castle Brands with Jefferson’s Bourbon, Smooth Ambler and Rabbit Hole Distillery.
The move is meant to accelerate the company’s goal of becoming a leading player in American whiskey in both U.S. and global markets.
“American whiskey is an extremely vibrant spirits category, and our investments over the last few years have proven very successful,” says Ann Mukherjee, chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard North America. “Now it’s time to drive even more outsized growth for these brands by managing and building a world-class marketing and operations approach.”
Chosen to lead The American Whiskey Collective is Pernod Ricard veteran marketing leader Craig Johnson, who is appointed to Pernod Ricard USA’s executive team, and Jessica Chen, an 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.
Pernod Ricard recently created two similar entities, the Gin Hub and House of Tequila, to help drive even growth in those respective spirits categories.
American whiskey volume in the U.S. has accelerated during 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 enjoyed strong growth, with annual sales now exceeding 20 million cases.
American whiskey sales are expected to account for a significant amount of Pernod Ricard USA’s total volumes within the next 5-10 years, Mukherjee says, and the company’s American whiskey export business also has enormous growth potential. To help achieve Pernod Ricard USA’s performance goals, 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,” Mukherjee adds. “The result will be further accelerated growth from a ‘new fashioned’ whiskey portfolio focused on pushing boundaries rather than adhering strictly to tradition.”