Professional fighter Conor McGregor will continue to promote Proper No. Twelve Irish whiskey after the brand was sold to Jose Cuervo owner Becle in a deal worth up to US$600 million.
Becle confirmed it had purchased the remaining 51% stake in Eire Born Spirits (EBS), the company behind Proper No Twelve, during the publication of its first-quarter results. The move came after the company borrowed US$150m to pay for the remaining stake in EBS.
Mexican drinks group Becle has owned a 49% stake in EBS since May 2020, when it completed the purchase of an additional 29% stake in the company.
According to Becle’s US-based Proximo Spirits division, McGregor will ‘retain an interest’ in the brand and will ‘remain actively engaged in the promotion’ of Proper No. Twelve.
The company confirmed a report that said the agreement was worth up to US$600m, which includes US$250m that the founders had already received in the brand’s first two years.
McGregor founded the Irish whiskey brand with his manager and business partner Audie Attar, and spirits industry entrepreneur Ken Austin, in September 2018. Austin is also one of the founders of Teremana Tequila, alongside actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
Since its launch, Proper No. Twelve has achieved ‘record-breaking growth’, shipping more than 500,000 nine-litre cases (more than six million bottles) in eight global markets.
McGregor said: “I founded Proper No. Twelve less than three years ago and today it has become a shining star in the spirits industry.
“This agreement is exciting for my partners and me, and the potential is limitless. Our vision is for Proper No. Twelve to continue its incredible growth worldwide and to keep bringing new consumers to the now-reinvigorated Irish whiskey market.”
Proximo Spirits said McGregor, Attar and Austin will continue to work closely with the company in building the brand.
‘Disrupted the category’
“Conor McGregor, Proximo and our partners have taken the spirits world by storm,” said Mike Keyes, president and CEO of Proximo.
“When we launched, the Irish whiskey market was dominated by one brand. Now, Proper No. Twelve has disrupted the category and has become a leading brand in the industry.
“We are thrilled with what we and our partners have achieved in growing Proper No. Twelve to this point, and we look forward to continued success together.
“This agreement also demonstrates Proximo’s commitment to expand its presence in the fastest-growing segments of the spirits industry.”
According to the company, Proper No. Twelve’s Instagram page (@properwhiskey) is currently the most-followed social media account in the spirits sector with 772,000 followers.
Keyes added: “It is rare to see a celebrity impact a brand the way Conor McGregor has Proper No. Twelve Irish whiskey, and I have not seen many brands in the spirits industry catapult to this level of success in such a short period of time.
“This agreement is a vote of confidence in the incredible potential of this brand and a testament to the incredible work of Conor, Audie, Ken and the Proper No. Twelve team, as well as the efforts of Proximo and its distributors, who have all made this success possible.”
Becle also owns 1800 Tequila, Kraken rum, Three Olives Vodka and Bushmills Irish whiskey.