Brown-Forman acquires Scotch Distillery, adds three Single-malt premium brands to portfolio

Brown-Forman Corp, the American spirits company behind such names as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Woodford Reserve premium bourbon, among others, said on Wednesday it had acquired The BenRiach Distillery Company in Edinburgh, Scotland for $416 million. The purchase includes three malt distilleries, a bottling plant and the company’s headquarters in Edinburgh. The sale is expected to close on June 1.

The purchase will give Brown-Forman three brands in the booming single-malt category – The GlenDronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh.

“The acquisition of these super-premium brands will allow Brown-Forman to re-enter one of our industries most exciting and consistent growth segments, single-malt Scotch whiskey,” said Paul Varga, CEO of Brown-Forman.

“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.”

Louisville, Kentucky-based Brown-Forman once had a minority stake in Glenmorangie Scotch Whisky but sold it as part of the brand’s sale to Moet Hennessy in 2005, leaving Brown-Forman without a Scotch Whiskey in its portfolio. Other products manufactured by Brown-Forman include Old Forester and Early Times bourbons and Canadian Whiskeys Collingwood and Canadian Mist.

Just last month, Brown-Forman announced the unveiling of a new bourbon whiskey in 20 years, Cooper’s Craft.

“Single malt is one of the healthier categories in spirits, and we had an eye to get into it,” said Lawson Whitting, Chief Brands and Strategy Officer for Brown-Forman. “Within the world of single malt, there are very few really good assets even available.”

BenRiach

BenRiach

The BenRiach distillery Company was named 2015 Distiller of the Year by Whisky Magazine, he said. And the brands “are very premium,” Whitting said, selling at $50 or more per bottle.

That will work well with Brown-Forman’s strategy of emphasizing the ultra-premium side of the business, he said. Although the brands already are in about 60 countries, in small quantities, Brown-Forman will use its global footprints to expand distribution as inventory allows.

“We hope to compete with the biggest brands in the world,” Whitting said. “A lot of single malts have very long age statements…..we have some other ideas of things we can do to grow.”

According to the announcement, The BenRiach Distillery Company will operate as a subsidiary of Brown-Forman.

GlenDronach

GlenDronach

The GlenDronach Distillery, in the hills of Scottish Highlands was founded in 1826 and produces a range of ultra-premium single-malt whiskies and is most noted for its richly, sherried whiskies, according to the news release. The distillery is known for experimenting with wood finishes, making whisky from non-peated and peated malted barley.

The Glenglassaugh Distillery was founded in 1875 on the coast of the Northern Scottish Highlands overlooking the North Sea. It produces a coastal Highland malt whisky.

Last year, Brown-Forman announced plans to build a $50m distillery at Slane Castle in Ireland to produce Irish Whiskey. The new distillery is scheduled to open in 2016 and will produce 600,000 cases a year.

Early in January, Brown-Forman sold its Southern Comfort and Tuaca brands to Sazerac, a Louisiana distiller for $543.5m to focus on core whiskey brands.

In addition to the brands already mentioned, Brown-Forman also owns Herradura and El Jimador tequilas, Finlandia vodka, Chambord Liqueur, Korbel Champagne and Sonoma-Cutrer wines.

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