Conor McGregor is to retain a minority interest in the company behind Proper No Twelve whiskey with the fighter actively continuing to promote the brand in the future.
Proximo Spirits, a subsidiary of Jose Cuervo tequila owner Becle, said it has agreed a long-term agreement with the mixed martial arts fighter that sees him continuing to collaborate on the brand he helped create.
No financial details of the deal have been publicly disclosed although unconfirmed media reports have indicated Becle paid upwards of €500 million to acquire McGregor’s Éire Born Spirits
“I founded Proper No Twelve less than three years ago and today it has become a shining star in the spirits industry,” McGregor said.
“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,” he added.
Becle, which also owns Bushmills, last month secured a $150 million loan to help it acquire the remaining stake it didn't already own in Éire Born. The drinks giant took an initial stake in the company when it was founded by McGregor, his manager - Paradigm Sports Management chief executive Audie Attar, and spirts industry entrepreneur Ken Austin, in 2019. It exercised an option last year to increase its ownership stake in the company to 49 per cent in a deal that valued Éire Born at $235 million (€199 million).
"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," said Mike Keyes, president and chief executive of Proximo.
Proper No Twelve launched in September 2018, initially in Ireland and the United States. The brand, which was named in honour of the fighter's postcode for his native Crumlin, has shipped more than 500,000 nine-litre cases (over 6 million bottles) in eight markets in the first two and a half years of business. This has made the brand one of the biggest globally behind Jameson, Tullamore Dew and Bushmills.
While significant, its sales are still a fraction of those of market leader Jameson which sold 4.75 million cases in the second half of 2020 alone.
“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,” said Mr Keyes.