The devil remained firmly within the nooks and crannies of the details, and until we know how much Sazerac's arrival will cost us, prudence is the rule. This noted, Sazerac's investment at the former Pillsbury has the potential to be a good thing.
Let's take a brief look at Sazerac. First, the company.
Sazerac Company, Inc is a privately held American alcoholic beverage company headquartered in Metairie in the metropolitan area of New Orleans, Louisiana, but with its principal office in Louisville, Kentucky. The company is owned by the family of billionaire William Goldring. As of 2017 it operated nine distilleries, had 2,000 employees and operated in 112 countries. It's one of the two largest spirits companies in the U.S. with annual revenue of about $1 billion, made from selling about 300 mostly discount brands.
Then, the chairman of Sazerac, with some insight into the business model.
US cheap-liquor billionaire looks abroad as sales slow
You may not have heard of America's richest spirits billionaire, but odds are you've sipped one of his offerings. Or, more likely, chugged it.
William Goldring, 73, built his empire on a simple model: acquire cheap brands, hype them and then stack them on the bottom shelves of liquor stores across America.
His closely held Sazerac Co has become the country's second-largest distiller by hawking discount brands such as Barton, Mr. Boston and Fleischmann's. You can buy 1.75 liters of each of his seven most popular vodka labels for a total of $80, the same price as one bottle of Absolut's premier-level Elyx.
Enough frat brothers are grabbing plastic bottles of these and Goldring's 300 or so other brands to drive his personal fortune to $3.9 billion, placing him among the world's 500 wealthiest people in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the first time he's landed in an international wealth ranking.
Goldring is little known outside his native New Orleans where he moves among the charity-circuit elites and has helped fund Tulane University buildings and athletic fields.
He's becoming better known now amid a year-long acquisition binge that's vaulted Sazerac into international competition.
"Bottom-shelf liquors can be tremendously profitable on the bottom line," says Jordan Simon, a New York wine and spirits writer and consultant. "They're cheap to make, cheap to sell and you get a lot of turnover."
Sazerac doesn't disclose its revenue. The figure probably reached $1 billion this year, according to data compiled by Anderson Economic Group. Both the company and Goldring declined to comment for this story.
While Sazerac also owns premium bourbon brands Blanton's, Buffalo Trace and cult favorite Pappy Van Winkle, which commands $500 a bottle or more, most of its money comes from giving unloved brands a profitable rebirth.
Sounds like a perfect fit with Gahanism: Bud Light Lime and the occasional shot of Fireball.
High tea, low crumpets, street corner shysters, and an economic development announcement at the former Pillsbury.