Managing director Paul Miles said the society, which sells single cask whiskies directly to its members, had been talking to the French-owned distiller over recent months to review the best way of driving it forward.
Miles told The Scotsman: “We’d been owned by The Glenmorangie Company for just over a decade and it’s been phenomenally successful, but we want to get to the next level and that requires a different kind of investment.”
The deal value has not been disclosed, but Miles said more than half the SMWS’s shares will be in Scottish hands, and all the management team had invested in the change of ownership.
He added: “There’s a small amount of international investment, and because we’re growing so fast internationally that’s an asset. Our biggest growth area remains the US, but beyond that our key markets include Taiwan, Japan and China.”
Latest available accounts at Companies House show that the SMWS, founded in 1984, generated a pre-tax profit of £578,087 in 2013, on turnover of £5.8 million. Sales to North America – its biggest market outside the UK – rose 17 per cent to £550,885.
Marc Hoellinger, president and chief executive of The Glenmorangie Company, said the sale of the SMWS was a continuation of its strategy “to focus our energies and efforts on developing the Glenmorangie and Ardbeg brands globally”.
He added: “We believe this change in investor for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society will ensure the society continues to prosper and expand as the world’s foremost whisky club. We wish them every success.”