The Company Behind Absolut and Jameson Just Bought a Major Mexican Mezcal Brand

Just as mezcal is starting to become a very popular spirit in the United States, Del Maguey mezcal was just bought by Pernod Ric

Tequila is not the only go-to Mexican spirit anymore. 

Put down that margarita. If you haven’t started drinking mezcal — the hottest new Mexican liquor that cocktail lovers are clamoring for — you haven’t lived. In a sign that the time of mezcal mania is at hand, Pernod Ricard, the French spirits and wine giant that makes Absolut, Jameson, Beefeater, Kahlua, and more, just bought a majority stake in Mexican brand Del Maguey. Del Maguey mezcal is not a cheap liquor: bottles start at around $37 and can go up to $200.

Like its close relative tequila, mezcal is made from the agave plant, but not necessarily the blue agave plant (from which tequila is exclusively made). It’s often described as “smokier” and “less approachable” than its margarita-and-shots-friendly cousin. Tequila sales dwarf mezcal sales in the United States for now, but the gap is slowly closing.

“We think that mezcal is just getting started in the U.S.,” Jeff Agdern, senior vice president of Pernod Ricard USA's new brand ventures division told Fortune. “It is very much an enthusiast and mixologist category right now, but we see more consumers coming into this category every day.”

Pernod is the second largest spirits company in the world, after Diageo, and the deal with Del Maguey is expected to close in 90 days, according to The New York Times. Their company is not the only major liquor group to invest in a mezcal brand. Bacardi recently invested a minority stake in Ilegal Mezcal, and Diageo has a distribution agreement with Mezcal Union.

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Curious to learn more before you run out and buy a bottle yourself? Check out our slideshow explaining What is Mezcal and Why Is it the Hottest Spirit in America?