Five of the biggest Scotch whisky takeover deals

The whisky industry has been a number of bumper deals in recent years. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire
The whisky industry has been a number of bumper deals in recent years. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire
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The recent £285 million acquisition of single malt distiller BenRiach was the latest in a string of takeovers across the Scotch industry – here are some of the biggest deals seen in recent years.

Beam – $16 billion

Bowmore parent Suntory took over Laphroaig owner Beam in 2014. Picture: Contributed

Bowmore parent Suntory took over Laphroaig owner Beam in 2014. Picture: Contributed

In 2014, Japanese drinks giant Suntory toasted a $16bn (£11bn) deal to buy American peer Beam in a move that created the world’s third-largest spirits company and united whisky brands including Bowmore, Laphroaig and Teacher’s under the same roof.

Suntory bought Glasgow-based Morrison Bowmore Distillers in 1994 and already listed whisky labels including Auchentoshan, Bowmore, Glen Garioch and McClelland’s in its portfolio. In 2013, the group acquired the Lucozade and Ribena soft drinks labels from drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline for £1.35bn.

Whyte & Mackay – £430m

Also in 2014, Indian drinks group United Spirits sold its Whyte & Mackay whisky business to Philippines-based rival Emperador in a deal that valued the distiller at £430 million.

Whyte & Mackay is now owned by Emperador. Picture: Robert Perry

Whyte & Mackay is now owned by Emperador. Picture: Robert Perry

The Glasgow-based owner of the Fettercairn, Invergordon and Jura distilleries was put up for sale the previous year to appease competition regulators after Johnnie Walker parent company Diageo built up a stake of almost 28 per cent in United Spirits.

BenRiach – £285m

Last month, the parent company of Jack Daniel’s agreed a deal worth about £285 million to buy Scotch whisky distiller BenRiach, which also owns the GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh single malt brands.

Kentucky-based Brown-Forman said the takeover would catapult it back into the single malt Scotch market, which chief executive Paul Varga described as “one of our industry’s most exciting and consistent growth segments”.

BenRiach was acquired by Brown-Forman last month. Picture: Peter Sandground

BenRiach was acquired by Brown-Forman last month. Picture: Peter Sandground

BenRiach managing director Billy Walker joined forces with two South African businessmen, Geoff Bell and Wayne Kieswetter, to acquire the mothballed BenRiach distillery in a deal worth about £5m 12 years ago.

Brown-Forman, which also owns Finlandia vodka, was previously a minority shareholder in rival single malt distiller Glenmorangie, before selling its interest as part of the firm’s sale to Moët Hennessy in 2005.

GlenDronach was founded in 1826, while fellow Highland distiller Glenglassaugh traces its roots back to 1875. The BenRiach distillery began making malt whisky in the heart of Speyside in 1898.

Drambuie – £100m

William Grant bought whisky liqueur Drambuie in 2014. Picture: TSPL

William Grant bought whisky liqueur Drambuie in 2014. Picture: TSPL

Family-owned distiller William Grant & Sons snapped up whisky liqueur Drambuie in September 2014.

Although no figure was disclosed, commentators believed the brand could command a price tag of close to £100m when reports of a potential sale first emerged.

William Grant, owner of key brands including Glenfiddich malt and Hendrick’s gin, said the purchase of the Edinburgh-based Drambuie Liqueur Company was a “natural fit” to its portfolio.

Drambuie – which was acquired from the MacKinnon family – is a blend of Scotch whisky, spices and heather honey, the recipe for which is said to have been given to Captain MacKinnon on the Isle of Skye by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746 after his defeat at Culloden. It rose to fame as the key ingredient of the Rusty Nail, the cocktail favoured by Frank Sinatra and his fellow “Rat Pack” members in the 1950s.

Bruichladdich – £58m

France’s Rémy Cointreau agreed to buy Islay whisky maker Bruichladdich for £58m in July 2012. The payout was considerably higher than the £34m price tag that analysts had predicted when the deal was first mooted.

Islay's Bruichladdich is now in French hands. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Islay's Bruichladdich is now in French hands. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Managing director Mark Reynier, who led the group that bought the Bruichladdich distillery in 2000 for £6.5m, said the sale had a “bittersweet” taste to it.

“Of course I have mixed emotions about the sale, but I couldn’t have picked a better buyer than Rémy,” he said at the time. “This is very positive for Bruichladdich as a brand, as a distillery and as a workforce.”

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