Distell spends £160m on Burn Stewart Distillers

South Africa’s Distell Group has bought Scotch whisky firm Burn Stewart Distillers from CL World Brands and  Angostura Limited for £160m (R2.2bn).

The deal is for 100% of Burn Stewart Distillers’ assets and includes blended Scotches Scottish Leader - the largest in its portfolio (500,000 9-litre cases annually) and a category leader in Taiwan – and Black Bottle (40,000 cases), and single malts Bunnahabhain, Deanston, Tobermory and Ledaig.

Burn Stewart Distillers’ assets include three single malt distilleries; a blending and maturation facility; a bottling hall; a storage site and in-house marketing and distribution functions. All Scotch whisky stocks in maturation also form part of the transaction.

Burn Stewart Distillers’ also operates a sales and marketing branch in Taiwan, the world's fourth Scotch market by volume; and holds a majority stake in a spirits distribution arm in the USA.

The deal follows an equal partner venture established in 2007 between Distell and Burn Stewart in which the two parties co-owned and marketed Bunnahabhain, Black Bottle and Scottish Leader in sub-Saharan Africa.

Jan Scannell, Distell Group MD, said: "We have acquired a business with a portfolio of strong brands, backed by a sound production and marketing team. Their expertise is integral to the ongoing success of Burn Stewart.

“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."

Fraser Thornton, Burn Stewart MD, said: “The close working relationship with Distell over the fourteen years has amply demonstrated the South African group's capacity, experience and expertise to strengthen and grow the company.

"We have developed solid synergies with a strong cultural fit between our two entities and are enthused by Distell's plans to recapitalise and advance the business."