Raising the Spirits: Sazerac Acquires North Texas-Based BuzzBallz, Pouring New Opportunities for Global Expansion

Merrilee Kick, the visionary behind BuzzBallz, is stirring up a new chapter. Known for its clever cocktails in ball-shaped containers, the brand is ready to shake up the global ready-to-drink scene with Sazerac's reach.

North Texas-based BuzzBallz, a woman-owned and family-operated distillery, winery, and brewery, has been acquired by Sazerac, one of the world’s largest spirits companies, in a move that’s set to expand the global reach of the Carrollton-based company.

Announced this week, the acquisition will see BuzzBallz’s unique, ready-to-drink cocktail lineup join Sazerac’s extensive spirits portfolio that includes some 500 brands, including Southern Comfort, Meyers Rum, Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, and more.

Founder Merrilee Kick, who will remain as CEO of BuzzBallz, said that as a “trailblazer in the ready-to-drink space,” her company has received many inquiries about acquiring it. But, she said, “Sazerac matched our innovative culture and spirit best.”

As a partner, Kick expects to continue to grow internationally and expand the company’s existing distribution footprint in the U.S. “We’re excited about our future growth opportunities from the synergies we will create together,” she said in a statement.

Founded by a former high school teacher

BuzzBallz, doing business as Southern Champion, was founded in 2009 by Merrilee Kick, a former high school teacher in Plano, as part of her master’s degree thesis project. The brand shipped its first cocktails in 2010 and quickly gained recognition for its distinctive spherical packaging, inspired by a glass votive and a can of tennis balls, and its high-quality, all-natural cocktails. 

Kick, who made her mark in a male-dominated industry, has said the idea for BuzzBallz came to her while she was grading papers by her pool.  She wanted an alcoholic beverage that could be enjoyed from a plastic container instead of glass. (You can read her thoughts on innovating, lessons learned, and the science of success here.)

Under her leadership, BuzzBallz experienced tremendous growth, reaching over 1 million cases of ready-to-drink cocktails sold in a single year by 2019. The company expanded its distribution across all 50 states and into 24 countries, becoming what is said to be the only woman-owned distillery/winery/brewery combination in the U.S.

In a statement, Sazerac CEO and President Jake Wenz, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, saying, “Merrilee and the team at BuzzBallz have created incredible brands, and we are both honored and excited to partner together to take them to the next level.”

‘Truly one-of-a-kind’

Wenz called Kick’s creativity, commitment to quality, and drive inspiring. “BuzzBallz is truly one-of-a-kind, and we can’t wait to help spread the products to more consumers all over the world,” he said.

The BuzzBallz portfolio also includes other ready-to-drink beverages such as BIGGIES, Uptown Cocktails, Sip Sip Hooray, and Texas Craft.

The company said the terms of the agreement will not be disclosed, and the deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals.

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