FINE wines and spirits merchant Berry Bros & Rudd is selling the Cutty Sark blended Scotch whisky brand to the Edrington Group, makers of The Famous Grouse and The Macallan.
Under the deal, BB&R will acquire The Glenrothes single malt brand from Edrington, which has signed long-term supply agreements to provide whisky fillings and stocks to BB&R. Edrington will retain ownership of The Glenrothes distillery.
Edrington has enjoyed a long-term partnership with BB&R under which it has supplied blended whisky for the Cutty Sark brand for more than 70 years. Though barely known in Britain, it is a top-three whisky brand in Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal.
The transaction will also involve Edrington acquiring all distribution contracts on Cutty Sark and its sales and distribution alliance (Maxxium) will continue to distribute The Glenrothes in key international markets. It is also expected to provide a distribution option for other brands within BB&R's super-premium spirits portfolio.
The agreement is due to be concluded by April 2010. The purchase price has not been disclosed.
Ian Curle, chief executive of Edrington, said: "In an ever-consolidating drinks industry, this agreement offers significant operational synergies and market advantages. It improves our distribution in key territories and strengthens our position as an independent premium brand company."
BB&R said the acquisition reflected its ambition to grow its super-premium business as the brand was one of the world's fastest growing single malts.
Hugh Sturges, managing director, BB&R, said: "We are convinced that future growth will come from us focusing even more on our strengths.
"That means targeting our sales and marketing efforts on those brands and sectors where we can compete most effectively and develop market positions that will drive real value long term."