Spirits giant Campari recently announced it is making a minority investment in the Howler Head Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey with Natural Banana Flavor brand. Said to be one of the fastest growing whiskey brands in the United States, it is the official flavored whiskey partner of UFC.
Howler Head, for those unfamiliar with it, is described as being “original banana-flavored super-premium Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It launched nationally in the U.S. in 2021, and in its first full year of operations, sold over 50,000 9L cases primary to the U.S. and Canada markets only, and generated overall net sales of USD 6.7 million.” This year it has expanded North American growth, and also is pushing into select international markets such as the U.K.
Production wise, Howler Head starts as, according to the brand, “real, carefully crafted Bourbon made at Green River Distilling Co. with a proprietary yeast, the finest grains and mineral-rich water filtered through Kentucky limestone. The whiskey is distilled in a legendary 100-year-old Vendome all-copper column still. The resulting Bourbon is then aged for two years in American white oak barrels with a #4 “alligator” char in traditional wood rick houses. Following the aging, the fine Bourbon is then blended with natural banana flavor.”
“With bourbon whiskey serving as one of our global priority brand pillars, Howler Head is an ideal fit for our portfolio,” said Bob Kunze-Concewitz, Chief Executive Officer of Campari Group, in a prepared statement. “In addition to being an exceptionally high-quality liquid, Howler Head has established a clearly unique brand personality and, through its deep relationship with UFC, has a huge on-tap worldwide fanbase ready to enjoy this fantastic bourbon.”
Campari initially agreed to pay USD15 million in cash in the first stage of path to total ownership, for a 15% interest in the brand. Campari Group can acquire 100% of Howler Head, starting from 2025, if it so chooses.
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...