Drambuie swallowed by Glenfiddich owner William Grant

DRAMBUIE, one of Scotland’s best-known brands, has been sold to family-owned distiller William Grant & Sons in the latest big takeover deal in the whisky sector.

William Grants have bought Drambuie. Picture: TSPL
William Grants have bought Drambuie. Picture: TSPL

Although no figure has been disclosed, when a potential sale was first reported earlier this year commentators believed the brand could command a price tag of close to £100 million.

William Grant, which last week announced record sales and strong growth 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.

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The firm said it had always been “secret admirers” of Drambuie, which was advised by Rothschild on the sale, and chief executive Stella David said the brand had a “very rich history and a great story to tell”.

Michael Kennedy, chief executive of Drambuie – which was owned by the MacKinnon family – said: “As part of the William Grant & Sons stable of brands, we believe that Drambuie can truly achieve its potential as it will benefit from being part of a larger and more diverse organisation.”

Drambuie is a blend of Scotch whisky, spices and heather honey. 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.

In its latest annual figures, Drambuie reported a slight fall in sales to £22.2m, while pre-tax profit dropped from £3.8m last year to £3.44m. However, UK sales grew by 17 per cent on the back of a new marketing drive.

The recipe for Drambuie 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.

There have been a raft of mergers and acquisitions in the Scotch whisky sector in recent months. Suntory, the Japanese beverage group, recently bought US-based Beam, which owns Teacher’s and Laphroaig. Indian drinks group United Spirits also announced it had agreed to sell its Whyte & Mackay whisky business to Philippines-based brandy producer Emperador for £430m.