Brown-Forman re-enters Scotch whisky segment with big distillery purchase

Brown-Forman Corporation made big news in the whisky world this week when it announced on Wednesday that it will purchase The BenRiach Distillery Company for approximately £285 million (approx. US$416 million).

The purchase will add three Single Malt Scotch Whisky brands into Brown-Forman’s growing whiskey portfolio: The GlenDronach, BenRiach, and Glenglassaugh.

Expected to close on or about June 1, 2016, the deal includes brand trademarks, three malt distilleries, a bottling plant, and the company’s headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The BenRiach Distillery Company, which has a workforce of 165 employees including 55 seasonal and casual workers, will operate as a subsidiary of Brown-Forman.

“The acquisition of these super premium brands will allow Brown-Forman to re-enter one of our industry’s most exciting and consistent growth segments, Single Malt Scotch Whisky,” said Brown-Forman Chief Executive Officer Paul Varga. “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.”

Brown-Forman is no stranger to Scotch whisky. B-F was a minority shareholder of Glenmorangie plc and marketed the Glenmorangie Single Malt Whisky brand in the U.S. and Canada from 1992 to 2005, adding Europe and certain Asian markets in 2000. The company sold its interest as part of Glenmorangie’s sale to Moet Hennessy in 2005.

“We feel immensely privileged to have been custodians of this business for the last 12 years, and to be associated with these wonderful brands and great distilleries,” said Billy Walker, managing director of The BenRiach Distillery Company Limited. “Our team have energized these distilleries and engaged creatively and successfully with the premium end of the market. We are very confident that Brown-Forman will take The GlenDronach, BenRiach, and Glenglassaugh brands to the next level and fulfill their full potential, and prove to be worthy custodians of these historic distilleries.”

The GlenDronach Distillery, located in the 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. The BenRiach Distillery, located in Speyside, began making malt whisky in 1898 and is known for experimenting with wood finishes producing whisky from both non-peated and peated malted barley. The Glenglassaugh Distillery, founded in 1875, is located in the northern Highlands overlooking the North Sea, and produces a coastal Highland malt.

Brown-Forman’s return to Scotch Whisky, follows last year’s groundbreaking for Slane Distillery, the company’s initial entry into distilling Irish whiskey.