Watershed Distillery has been sold to Marussia Beverages USA
Watershed Distillery, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, was founded in 2010 by two ambitious friends and has become the producer of the number one selling Ohio-made bourbon and gin portfolios. During the last 13 years, the brand has become a renowned producer in the craft spirits market with a primary focus on growing its home market of Ohio, while adding distribution in six other states. Greg Lehman, Watershed’s founder, will continue to oversee all operations.
Greg Lehman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Watershed, commented, “In Marussia Beverages USA we see the same entrepreneurial spirit that has driven our growth here at Watershed. Working with the executive team at Marussia Beverages USA has been energizing and exciting. As we plan to grow our footprint here in Central Ohio and throughout the country, we see potential opportunities for our current team, future employees and the Columbus region.”
John Horn, Chief Executive Officer of Marussia Beverages USA, added, “Watershed embodies the same core values and DNA that are at the heart of Marussia Beverages USA. It starts with family, community, entrepreneurship, a passion for exploration and discovery and the desire to connect with consumers to deliver high-quality, premium brands. Built with these same values, Watershed has done and will continue to do amazing things, and in concert with our great team, will build upon these values in Ohio and beyond.”
One of the two original distilleries in Columbus post-prohibition, Watershed has paved the way for what is now a robust and thriving craft distilling community in Central Ohio. Since Watershed’s founding, Greg has been instrumental in influencing Ohio liquor legislation through his work with the Ohio Distillers Guild. His efforts have helped to create a more equitable playing field for craft spirit makers in the state, guiding bills that have increased craft distilling production limits and allowed distillers to obtain licenses to open bars and restaurants and sell their own spirits on site.
Watershed currently occupies 35,000 square feet, operates two copper stills and a bar and restaurant and employs more than 70 people, mostly in Central Ohio. Watershed credits the support of the local community and its partners, including the Ohio Division of Liquor Control and JobsOhio with its continued success.
“We started as two guys with a big idea, one small pot still and 2,000 square feet,” added Greg. “The community rallied behind the brand and energized us day after day and supported us year after year. This strategic acquisition allows us to stay a part of the community that built us, continuing to grow here and share Ohio-made spirits with people near and far.”
The craft spirits category is seeing tremendous investor interest right now. Craft spirits and premium / super premium spirits more broadly are benefiting from numerous mega-trends including: “cocktail culture” as more than 25% of Americans regularly make cocktails at home, premiumization with more than 33% of Americans saying they spent over $50 on a bottle of alcohol in 2022 and a generational shift towards Millennial and Gen Z consumers who now make up a majority of bourbon and gin consumers globally.
Marussia Beverages USA’s interest in Watershed was strong and reinforced by the company’s i) rapidly growing and award-winning product portfolio,ii) strong management team with a track record of impressive financial performance, iii) tremendous regional footprint and expanding national distribution and iv) compelling opportunities for future growth.
Eddie Krule, Managing Director in Lincoln’s Consumer Group, commented, “We are thrilled to have achieved a fantastic outcome for the entire Watershed team and would like to congratulate Marussia Beverages USA which has the experience and resources to support Watershed as it continues its strong growth trajectory. We look forward to watching Watershed grow over the coming years.“
Marussia Beverages USA
Marussia Beverages USA is a producer and national importer of premium spirits, sake and wines including brands such as Hatozaki Whiskies, Mozart Chocolate Liqueurs, Torabhaig Scotch Whiskies, Bärenjäger Honey Liqueurs, Clonakilty Irish Whiskies, 135° East Japanese Gin and Akashi Tai Sakes. Marussia Beverages USA is part of the global group Marussia Beverages, founded by Dr. Frederik Paulsen, with 14 distribution companies and 12 production sites throughout the world. In respect for the deep roots of tradition paired with a taste for innovation, Marussia Beverages’ mission is to create and distribute quality brands that elevate expectations and provide compelling, authentic consumer experiences. For more information, visit www.marussiabeveragesusa.com.
From the very beginning of the process until closing, Lincoln showed exemplary communication, preparation and execution. I am thankful we selected the team at Lincoln and consider that decision a key to an exceptional outcome with Marussia Beverages USA.
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