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First private equity fund focused on craft spirits sector launches in US

Published:  16 December, 2015

Thoroughbred Spirits Partners and the Thoroughbred Spirits Group have launched a US private equity fund focused on the craft spirits sector.

Thoroughbred Spirits Partners Fund, which will be based in Dallas, plans to invest some $50 million in startup and early-stage ventures in the industry.

Co-founder Scott Schiller said: "What makes this fund unique from others stems from our deep knowledge and experience in the space, our extensive contacts in the industry, including both craft brands and multinationals, and our strong relationship with so many distillers around the globe.

"For the last several years, we've been working with many of the best-positioned craft distillers in the country.

"The opportunities in craft spirits are plentiful, as many have seen with recent acquisitions in both the bourbon and vodka categories."

Schiller is a fifth generation distiller himself and has worked with Azul Tequila, Few Spirits, Grande Arnage Cognac and Hangar One Vodka among others.

His grandfather owned and ran the legendary Bucket O' Suds bar and distillery in Chicago, whose customers included Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

David Large, another co-founder of the fund, was formerly a capital markets portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

"This is an excellent vehicle not only for the right companies to acquire capital, but also for investors to privately access the spirits market," he said.

"Traditionally, investors have had two routes to brand ownership; through the capital markets or to invest in a singular brand or distillery.

"Our fund offers broader ownership in the segment and acts as a catalyst by providing both funding and intellectual capital to carefully selected spirit brands thereby maximizing the value of portfolio companies."

The final lead member of the launch team is Leo Isaak, an alternative investment specialist who joined from Axios Capital Advisors.

"When David approached me about this idea it was very easy for me to say yes," he said.

"The craft spirits segment offers a unique hedging opportunity for investors in comparison to many other industries.

"The investment opportunities are plentiful, and we are here to fill the void left by larger financial players who would like to be involved outside the public capital markets, but either don't have the experience to go it alone or due to their sheer size have difficulty finding the right structure."

The Chicago-based Thoroughbred Spirits Group is a boutique spirits consulting firm which offers specialist advice to distilleries, spirit portfolio owners, entrepreneurs and distributors.