NEW YORK — The maker of classic American whiskeys Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark has agreed to be acquired by a Japanese company in a $13.62 billion deal that would create the third largest global premium spirits business.
Shares of Beam Inc. rose 24 percent Monday after it said that it agreed to be purchased by Suntory Holdings Ltd., a Japanese beverage company. The combined company would have annual sales of more than $4.3 billion.
The deal comes at a time when the taste for bourbon — a type of American whiskey that is made primarily of corn and typically distilled in Kentucky — continues to grow domestically and abroad.
In the United States, sales volume for bourbon and Tennessee whiskeys such as Jack Daniels has grown 26 percent over the past decade, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, an industry group. Exports of U.S. whiskeys have grown to roughly $1 billion last year, more than double what it was a decade ago.
Demand is so robust that Beam last year even considered reducing the alcohol content for Maker’s Mark because of a supply shortage. The company scrapped the idea after a backlash by fans of the higher-end bourbon. “We’re basically in the middle of a global whiskey renaissance,” said Frank Coleman, a spokesman for the Distilled Spirits Council.