Lewiston liquor bottling facility sold to Sazerac, jobs saved

Beam Inc., the maker of Jim Beam bourbon, has sold its Lewiston bottling plant to Sazerac Co. In this 2011 file photo, employees work at the facility.
Courtesy of White Rock Distilleries
Beam Inc., the maker of Jim Beam bourbon, has sold its Lewiston bottling plant to Sazerac Co. In this 2011 file photo, employees work at the facility.
Posted Oct. 16, 2013, at 6:43 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 17, 2013, at 7:13 a.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — The liquor bottling plant in Lewiston that has churned out cases of Pinnacle Vodka and Calico Jack Rum for, first, White Rock Distilleries, and currently Beam Inc., has a new owner that plans to continue operating the facility.

The news could preserve the 120 jobs that the facility currently supports.

“This is really good news for that plant because it means a future is secured for them,” Paula Erickson, a spokeswoman for Beam, the maker of Jim Beam brand bourbon that has sold the facility, told the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday.

Sazerac Co., a Louisiana-based liquor company that counts such well-known brands as Buffalo Trace bourbon and Skol vodka among its portfolio, has purchased the building, land and equipment from Beam for an undisclosed price, according to Erickson. The deal closed on Wednesday, she said.

Beam acquired the Lewiston facility at the same time it acquired the Pinnacle and Calico Jack brands from White Rock Distilleries in April 2012. That deal was worth $605 million.

In January 2013, Beam announced it was consolidating its bottling operations at its facility in Frankfort, Ky., and would seek a buyer for the facility.

“We told the workforce in Lewiston that we would explore different options for the plant, including potentially finding a suitable buyer,” Jim Morehead, Beam’s director of manufacturing, said in a statement. “We couldn’t be more pleased to have Sazerac purchase the plant and to continue operating it as a spirits bottling facility.”

At the time Beam made the announcement in January, there were 160 employees at the facility, according to Erickson. Today there are 120, she said.

Beam will lease the facility back from Sazerac until it completes a relocation of its operations to Kentucky, which it plans to accomplish by April 2014, Erickson said. She could not say whether Sazerac will retain the entire workforce.

“The intention for the employees, the workforce, remains just like any course of business,” Erickson said. “The workforce numbers will be balanced with business and production volumes, not only as Beam is leasing it back, but as Sazerac moves in volume.”

A spokesperson for Sazerac declined to offer details on the company’s plans for the facility, although Mark Brown, the company’s CEO, did release a prepared statement.

“We are pleased to be able to add the Lewiston plant to our operations footprint,” Brown said. “With an experienced team who knows how to create the finest spirits, coupled with the right size and equipment and a good working knowledge of the brands we acquired from White Rock two years ago, we are looking forward to adding production volume back to the plant.”

It was not immediately clear what brands Sazerac acquired from White Rock two years ago, or what brands it plans to bottle at the Lewiston facility.

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