Three North-east whisky distilleries sold to Jack Daniel’s owner in £285m deal

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Three North-east whisky distilleries have been sold to the US owner of Jack Daniel’s in a £285 million deal.

Brown-Forman, based in Louisville, Kentucky, now owns the BenRiach, in Elgin, GlenDronach, near Huntly, and Glenglassaugh in Portsoy.

The takeover deal includes brand trademarks, the three malt distilleries, a bottling plant and the company’s headquarters in Edinburgh.

Glenglassaugh whisky
Glenglassaugh whisky
WORK has started today (Monday December 29, 2008) on a £250,000 development of the GlenDronach malt whisky brand. The Aberdeenshire distillery, one of Scotland's oldest, was bought earlier this year by the Larbert-based BenRiach Distillery Company. BenRiach Managing Director Billy Walker said: "This is the beginning of our strategy to re-package and re-launch GlenDronach in markets worldwide. We will take Glendronach back to how it was originally, promoting it as one of Scotland's original sherried whiskies." Mr Walker and his colleagues purchased GlenDronach from Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of Pernod Ricard. "GlenDronach is a bit of a sleeping giant and was not part of Chivas's expansion plans," said Regional Sales Director James Cowan. "But we have great plans for it in our markets in the UK, Germany, USA, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Italy, Switzerland, France, Canada, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and China, amongst others. "We're looking forward to breathing new life into it and giving it the attention and commitment it deserves." Industry veteran and Master Blender Mr Walker revealed that GlenDronach will release a new core range in March 2009 which will comprise twelve, fifteen and eighteen-year-old malts. It will also release a non-aged product, single cask bottlings and some incredibly rare vintage malts.    Marketing Executive Kerry White said: “Tradition will play a significant role in the new branding. The current packaging, design and logo have been retained but are being enhanced with a few changes. A new proprietary bottle will also be incorporated later in 2009.” Pic from PR
GlenDronach distillery

The BenRiach Distillery Company, which has 165 employees including 55 seasonal and casual workers, will now operate as a subsidiary of Brown-Forman.

The US company was previously a minority shareholder in Glenmorangie but sold its interest in 2005.

Chief executive Paul Varga said: “The acquisition of these super-premium brands will allow Brown-Forman to re-enter one of our industry’s most exciting and consistent growth segments, single malt Scotch whisky.

“The Glendronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh single malt brands are rich in history and we believe they will continue to prosper and grow in our hands.”

Brown-Forman already owns popular whisky brands including Jack Daniel’s and Canadian Mist as well as Chambord liqueur and Finlandia vodka.

It sold the Southern Comfort brand earlier this year for more than 500 million US dollars (£342 million).

BenRiach Distillery first opened in 1898 but after management mothballed the Speyside plant in 2002 it was acquired by an independent consortium led by Billy Walker.

Four years later the company purchased GlenDronach Distillery then Glenglassaugh Distillery in 2013.

The BenRiach Distillery Company was named global whisky distiller of the year at the 2015 Icons of Whisky Awards.

Managing director Mr Walker said: “We feel immensely privileged to have been custodians of this business for the last 12 years and to be associated with these wonderful brands and great distilleries.

“Our team have energised these distilleries and engaged creatively and successfully with the premium end of the market.

“We are very confident that Brown-Forman will take the GlenDronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh brands to the next level and fulfil their full potential, and prove to be worthy custodians of these historic distilleries.”