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Aviation Gin takes off with Diageo in $610m deal

Published:  18 August, 2020

Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin brand has landed a mega-deal with drinks giant Diageo, which has been acquired via parent company Davos Brands.

After acquiring a majority stake in the Davos Brands portfolio, Diageo now also has the rights to Astral Tequila, Sombra Mezcal, and TYKU Saké.

Reynolds will keep an “ongoing ownership interest” in the brand, which is due to cost Diageo an initial US$335 million, and up to a further US$275 based on performance over the next decade, bringing the total to $610m (£465.7m).

The sale follows closely in the footsteps of other celebrity backed brands, coupled with a disastrous couple of months for Diageo as the global pandemic hit sales of bar-led spirit brands.

Less hit by the pandemic however has been gin, which fell by just 4% this year. Tequila, which makes up 5% of Diageo’s net sales, grew by 25%, with George Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila, which Diageo bought for $1bn, posting double digit growth.

Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes said the acquisition was part of the company’s strategy “to acquire high-growth brands with attractive margins that support premiumisation”.

“We are confident that Aviation American Gin will continue to shape and drive the growth of super-premium gin in North America,” he said.

Reynolds added: “A little over two years ago, I became an owner of Aviation gin because I love the taste of Aviation more than any other spirit.  

“What I didn’t expect was the sheer creative joy learning a new industry would bring.

“Growing the brand with my company, Maximum Effort Marketing, has been among the most fulfilling projects I’ve ever been involved with.”

Aviation Gin is distributed by Proof Drinks in the UK.

IWSR figures highlight the enormous influence of celebrity endorsement on drinks brands, coupled with global trends.

Last year, Aviation Gin doubled its volume sales, adding the highest number of cases of any premium gin label. It was also responsible for 40% of super premium gin segment growth, according to IWSR figures.