South Africa’s Distell Buys Burn Stewart Distillers

Bunnahabhain Distillery in Scotland. April 15, 2013 – Burn Stewart Distillers, one of the few bright spots in the troubled CL Financial portfolio, has been sold to the South African-based Distell Group for £160 million ($245.4 million USD). The deal includes Bunnahabhain, Tobermory (Ledaig), and Deanston distilleries in Scotland,  the Scottish Leader and Black Bottle blended Scotch whisky brands, blending and bottling facilities, and all of the maturing whisky stocks currently held in bond.

The two companies have been partners in a distribution deal for Burn Stewart’s whiskies in Africa since 2007. Distell owns the James Sedgwick Distillery in South Africa, which produces the Three Ships and Cape Mountain whiskies. In a news release, Distell managing director Jan Scannell cited the strategic benefits of the deal, which will leverage Burn Stewart’s strength in Taiwan and other Asian markets:

“This gives us an outstanding foundation from which to build, while cherishing their individual traditions.

Bunnahabhain, the Burn Stewart Distillers’ flagship single malt, is made on Islay, considered one of the most prestigious whisky locations by connoisseurs. There are only eight distilleries on the Island, so we are extremely fortunate to acquire this very highly-ranked brand.

“Tobermory is the only distillery on the Isle of Mull, one of the most popular tourist spots in Scotland, while the home of Scottish Leader is the Deanston Distillery situated in the Scottish Highlands in Doune near Stirling, close to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, and another important destination for whisky enthusiasts.”

Rumors of a Burn Stewart sale have been commonplace since 2009, when the Trinidad and Tobago government was forced to rescue CL Financial after the collapse of its Clico and Clico Investment Bank. CL’s Angostura unit recently sold its Lascelles rum distillery and brands to Gruppo Campari, and the Burn Stewart unit was seen as one of the few profitable divisions within CL.

Links: Burn Stewart Distillers | Distell Group

Mark Gillespie

I'm the host and executive producer of WhiskyCast.

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