Sold not stolen: Stolen Spirits sells controlling interest for $21 million

Image by Rupal Hira
Stolen Spirits, maker of international award-winning Stolen Rum, announced today that it has sold a controlling interest in the company to US-based venture capital funds Liquid Asset Brands and Spirits Investment Partners for NZ$21 million.

Founded in 2010 by Jamie Duff and Roger Holmes (who left the company a couple of years ago), Stolen has modelled itself for international growth since the beginning. "When Kelvin [Soh], Roger and I did the branding, it was always carefully strategised as a brand that'd be able to resonate cross-market. So there was a lot of planning and thought that went into this happening one day. So we definitely foresaw it, but you never know what will happen when you start stuff. We planned the brand to be able to be not just a New Zealand story, but something a lot of people of different nationalities could relate to.”

Duff says that the injection of capital will help Stolen launch in the States. “Capital markets in New Zealand are very small and in this industry you need a lot of money to extend your brand, particularly into the States. So it was obvious we had to look for US-based money. There's so many points in the distribution chain so to get into market you really need a) a lot of money and, b) a lot of expertise.”

Image: Jamie Duff

Marc Bushala, chief executive of Liquid Asset Brands will take over as global CEO, Kyle Melnyk will remain CEO of New Zealand and Australia. Bushala recently sold Liquid Asset Brand’s Angel’s Envy Bourbon and Angel’s Envy Rye to Bacardi Limited (who famously bought 42 Below in 2006) for an undisclosed amount.

Duff says that Bushala, Liquid Asset Brands and Spirit Investment Partners are the perfect partners to get Stolen traction in the US market, and allow them to expand into other products. “They've got a long-term plan for Stolen," Duff says. "We're looking at a whisky and some other cross products including rum and other brown spirits. We feel like the Stolen brand has a lot of appeal and we want to see how far we can take it."

We've previously covered Stolen's design and marketing exploits here.