Founders First in whisky venture using Nant stock

Former Australian Whisky Holdings CEO Chris Malcolm has partnered with ASX-listed craft beverages accelerator Founders First in a new whisky business.

The as yet unnamed company – provisionally called Newco Pty Ltd – has purchased and rebranding 68 barrels of maturing whisky stock that was originally distilled at the controversial Nant Distillery in the Tasmanian Highlands.

“Each barrel has been inspected, weighed and checked for alcohol content, and is of high quality,” Founders First announced to the ASX on Tuesday morning.

“The first small batch release of this stock is planned for December 2020.”

Chris Malcolm

Malcolm departed AWH – now known as Lark Distilling Co – in February 2019, prior to the boardroom coup that established its current management team.

“Having a passion and long-term association with the whisky industry I am looking forward to working with the Founders First team to realise our shared vision of building a high quality globally recognised whisky brand,” he said today.

“It’s exciting to be part of building a new brand which already has access to such high quality whisky in barrels, some of which will be ready for release as early as December this year.

“We are fortunate to have 12 Barrels in Virgin White Oak which were part of the Nant exclusive program, the only one of its kind in Australia using Virgin White Oak.

“A 500ml bottle of this whisky retails for around $400 a bottle.”

Founders First CEO and managing director Mark Haysman said the deal complements its recent investment in Kangaroo Island Distillery.

“Both businesses have strong whisky credentials and capabilities to barrel age premium offerings that originate in two of the most respected craft provenances in Australia – the pristine altitudes of the Tasmanian Highlands and unspoilt natural surrounds of Kangaroo Island,” he said.

“Few people know the business of whisky better than Chris. We look forward to working with him to bring our new Whisky vision to life.”

Deal structure

Founders First has invested $525,000 for a 60 per cent equity stake in NewCo Pty Ltd.

Chris Malcolm will transfer ownership of 68 barrels (valued at approximately $350,000 plus GST) to the new entity, in a exchange for a 40 per cent equity stake.

Malcolm will also receive a cash payment of $35,000 from NewCo for the transfer of his whisky stocks.

“The parties agree that Founders First shall have an option at the conclusion of year five after completion to purchase Chris Malcolm’s shares and become a 100 per cent owner of NewCo Pty Ltd in consideration for paying a purchase consideration,” the ASX announcement says.

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Author: James Atkinson

Journalist specialising in the food, drink, travel and hospitality arenas. Australian International Beer Awards 2017 Media Award Winner and Certified Cicerone®.

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