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Brown-Forman Scoops Up Scotland’s BenRiach For $415 Million

There’s some pretty big news to know about today in the world of whiskey distillery mergers and acquisitions. Kentucky based Brown-Forman, the parent company to the likes of Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniel’s and Old Forester, is set to add to its growing stable the independent Scotch whisky company BenRiach. This includes bringing several well respected Scottish brands under the Brown-Forman fold.

With the acquisition of BenRiach, Brown-Forman will now have controlling interest in The GlenDronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh, including brand trademarks, the malt distilleries themselves and a bottling plant associated with the operations. The purchase cost for all of this was said to be approximately £285 million, or around $415 million US.

Brown-Forman Acquires BenRiach
The sun rise on a new day at BenRiach, soon to be in the hands of Brown-Forman (image via BenRiach)

“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 in a statement. “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.”

For those unfamiliar with these Scottish distilleries, Brown-Forman said of them that “The GlenDronach Distillery, located in the hills of the Scottish Highlands, was founded in 1826. GlenDronach produces a range of ultra-premium single malt whiskies and is most noted for its richly sherried whiskies. Located in the heart of Speyside, The BenRiach Distillery 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 on the coast in the northern Scottish Highlands overlooking the North Sea producing a coastal Highland malt.”

It should be noted Brown-Forman previously 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. It later sold its interest as part of Glenmorangie plc’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,” added 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.”

This purchase, once complete around the start of June, will bring into Brown-Forman’s family of almost 4,400 employees an additional 165 employees, including 55 seasonal and casual workers. It marks just the latest chapter in the Kentucky company spending big dollars to grow its whiskey brands, with previous examples including $12 million on an Indiana barrel facility, $50 million for a new Irish whiskey distillery, $45 million on a new Old Forester facility in downtown Louisville and $140 million into expanded Jack Daniel’s operations in Tennessee.

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions. He also maintains a large private collection of whiskey from which he continually educates his palate on this brown spirit type.

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