Victor Jerez, the former head of strategy at Glenfiddich distiller William Grant & Sons, has seen the future and says it has cannabis written all over it.
The executive has resigned from his position running corporate development at the world’s third-largest Scotch whisky producer effective Aug. 31 to pursue opportunities in blending weed and drinks, starting with speaking at an industry event in Chicago on Tuesday, where startups will pitch for investment.
“There’s going to be a convergence of alcohol and cannabis, and now’s the time to jump in as regulatory pressures ease,” Jerez said in an interview.
Jerez is making the move as a cohort of alcohol businesses like Corona-maker Constellation Brands Inc. and Heineken NV explore the burgeoning sector. Last year, Chris Burggraeve, the former chief marketing officer of Budweiser owner Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, said he was investing in cannabis companies and that the industry could shake up large alcohol producers in the same way craft brewers began taking share from Big Beer about two decades ago.
Broader adoption of cannabis has been complicated by factors ranging from the health implications of inhaling smoke and the smell of burning marijuana to the difficulty in moderating dosage. That makes drinks the perfect method of administration, Jerez said.
Prior to joining William Grant, Jerez was global head of corporate strategy at Pernod Ricard SA, the maker of Absolut vodka. He led the acquisitions of brands such as Monkey 47 gin, which positions him well to work with small and fast-growing consumer-goods firms, he said.
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