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Lark Distilling buys Tasmanian rival for $40 million, plans expansion

Listed Australian single malt whisky distiller Lark Distilling Co is to pay $40 million to acquire Kernke Family Shene Estate, the owner of the Pontville Distillery and Estate. 

Lark will raise $53 million to complete the purchase and fund construction of a 1 million litre distillery on the acquired land as well as accelerate the company’s export strategy.

Pontville is located north of Hobart in Tasmania and the site includes 16ha of land, a 130,000-litre distillery, cellar door, bond stores, cooperage, stables and homestead. 

Pontville will become Lark’s third working distillery in Tasmania, alongside its Cambridge and Bothwell sites and will contribute to the inhouse production of 576,000 litres of Lark whisky each year. Lark at Pontville will commence distilling in February and open its cellar door there with Lark’s master distiller Chris Thomson and his team will continue to oversee whisky distilling, and product development for the combined business. 

The new 1 million-litre distillery is scheduled to be commissioned in 2023. 

“The acquisition of the Pontville Distillery and Estate supports our vision of becoming a global icon in single malt whisky,” said Lark Distilling’s MD Geoff Bainbridge. “This builds on our vision to become the world’s most innovative distiller.”

Bainbridge said the assets provide significant whisky inventories on value-accretive terms and re-balance the maturity profile of the company’s whisky under maturation. 

“Critically, the age profile and quality of the whisky under maturation being acquired will enable The House of Lark to commence an export programme from FY23 which is approximately 12 months ahead of previously published plans.”

With the acquisition including 483,000 litres of whisky under maturation, Lark now expects to have more than 2 million litres of whisky under maturation as of June 30 next year, valued at around $435 million. 

The deal is binding with settlement scheduled for early next year. 

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