Burn Stewart Distillers sold for £160 million

Burn Stewart Distillers has been sold for $244m (£160m) to South African drinks company Distell Group, who acquired 100% of the share capital of Burn Stewart from sellers CL World Brands Ltd and Angostura Ltd in a deal brokered by DLA Piper Scotland.

Distell is one of Africa’s leading producers and marketers of spirits, fine wines and ciders, and has been representing Burn Stewart in South Africa since 2007, when the pair signed a joint venture agreement. The equal partnership allowed Distell to market three of Burn Stewart’s whiskies in South Africa and Africa: Scottish Leader, Bunnahabhain Islay Single Malt, and Black Bottle Blended Scotch Whisky.

Merwe Botha, Financial Director of Distell Group, said, “Our acquisition of Burn Stewart is a very significant development for Distell from a strategic perspective but also given the rich and proud history and heritage of the brands involved. It gives us an outstanding foundation from which to build, while cherishing their individual traditions.

The solid synergies that the two entities have built over time and which are backed by strong marketing and production teams, strengthen our position in this competitive global Scotch Whisky market.”

Scotch Whisky has become increasingly popular in both Africa and South Africa, thanks to greater global travel from these countries and a growing appreciation for the product. 

Burn Stewart’s blended whisky brands include Scottish Leader and Black Bottle, with the Single Malts portfolio consisting of Bunnahabhain, Tobermory, Deanston and Ledaig. The company also owns and operates three whisky distilleries: Bunnahabhain (Islay), Tobermory (Mull) and Deanston (Doune, near Stirling).

Paul Pignatelli, a partner in DLA Piper’s Corporate team, said: “This is a major deal in the dynamic Scottish whisky sector which is currently enjoying booming sales at home and abroad. Burn Stewart is behind some of the best known and loved whisky brands in Scotland, representing a world class asset for our clients the Distell Group to acquire.

Burn Stewart Distillers employs close to 270 staff located at its global sites. It has a blending and maturation facility at Airdrie and a bottling hall and finished goods storage site at East Kilbride. The company also operates a sales and marketing branch in Taiwan.

Distell employs nearly 5,000 people and has an annual turnover in excess of R12.3 billion. It produces premium brandies, cognacs, white spirits, whiskies and liqueurs including Amarula.

Meanwhile there has been no news yet with regard to the sale of Loch Lomond Distillery. It has been rumoured that Exponent, a private equity firm behind the likes of Radley’s, HSS Hire Service, thetrainline.com, Quorn and the Ambassador Theatre Group is set to buy the distillery in a deal worth tens of millions.