Distillery Owners Guide: Who Belongs to Whom?


Since 2000, the Scotch industry has undergone a major consolidation, with multinationals acquiring many of the independents. Here’s a rough guide of who’s who, and who owns what.


Diageo is the giant of the industry, owning 27 malt distilleries, and 2 grain distilleries. It built its name as a producer of blended whisky, notably Bells, and now owns Johnnie Walker. Its best-known single malts are Lagavulin, Oban and Talisker.

Other single malt whiskies in its portfolio are Auchroisk, Benrinnes, Blair Athol, Cardhu, Clynelish, Caol lla, Cragganmore, Dailuaine, Dalwhinnie, Dufftown, Glen Elgin, Glen Ord, Glen Spey, Glenkinchie, Glendullan, Glenlossie, Inchgower, Johnny Walker pure malt, Linkwood, Mannochmore, Mortlach, Pittyvaich, Rosebank, Strathmill and Teaninich.

In addition to Bells and Johnny Walker, its blended malt whiskies are Black and White, Haig, J&B Rara, Spey Royal, VAT 69, White Horse, Buchanans, Dimple (sold in the U.S. as Pinch) and Old Parr.

Diageo also owns American whiskies Seagrams 7 Crown and Bulleit Bourbon; and Canadian whiskies Crown Royal and Seagram’s VO.

Pernod Ricard

Pernod Ricard owns Chivas Brothers, making it the second largest Scotch whisky producer in the world, with 10 distilleries, including anchor brands Glenlivet and Aberlour. Rounding out its portfolio are Glendronach, Glenallachie, Glenburgie, Glentauchers, Miltonduff, Scapa, Strathisla and Tormore.

Glendronach is reportedly up for sale to a South African consortium.

Pernod Ricard also owns Irish Distillers, maker of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey as well as lesser-known Irish whiskey brands Powers, Paddy, Redbreast, Middleton and Green Spot.

It is also a major producer of blended whisky with Chivas Regal, Ballantines and Canadian Club.

The Edrington Group

The Edrington Group owns five distilleries: Glenrothes, Glenturret, Highland Park, Macallan and Tamdhu.

It also produces The Famous Grouse blended malt whisky and Cutty Sark.


Bacardi owns Dewar’s, giving it control of 5 single malt distilleries: Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Macduff and Royal Brackla.

Its Dewar’s blended whisky is the best selling brand in the U.S.

Fortune Brands

Fortune Brands is a large multinational with many interests, including tobacco and spirits. It is best known in the U.S. for Jim Beam. Fortune Brands put itself on the single malt map in 1997 with acquisition of Allied Domecq, in partnership with Pernod Ricard, picking up the legendary Laphroaig distillery. It also owns Ardmore.

Other brands in its portfolio include Teachers blended whisky, Canadian Club whisky, and bourbons Makers Mark and Knob Hill.

Thai Beverages

Thai Beverages, Asia’s largest liquor company, took a major stake in the world of whisky in 2001 with the acquisition of Inver House, a leading distiller of single malt Scotch. It owns and operates five distilleries: Old Pulteney Distillery, The Speyburn-Glenlivet Distillery, Balblair Distillery, Knockdhu Distillery and Balmenach Distillery.

It also owns the blended whisky brands MacArthurs, Pinwinnie Royal, Hankey Bannister, Cattos, Inver House, and Green Plaid.

United Breweries Group

India’s United Breweries purchased Whyte & Mackay, Scotland’s fourth largest Scotch maker, in June 2007 for $1.8B. The deal gave it 4 single malt distilleries: Isle of Jura, The Dalmore, Tamnavulin and Fettercairn; and also Whyte & Mackay blended whisky.

Whyte & Mackay has operated under several monikers and owners in the past couple of decades, switching its name to JBB and Kyndal before returning once more to Whyte & Mackay. It was snapped up by Fortune Brands, and later privatized through a management buyout. It was subsequently acquired by UB Group, the world’s third largest spirits company, best known in the U.S. for its Kingfisher Indian beer. UB Group also owns several blended whisky brands: Bagpiper Whisky, McDowell’s No.1 Whisky and Director’s Special Whisky.

CL WorldBrands Limited

Trindad’s CL Worldbrands, owner of Angostura bitters, bought Burn Stewart in 2003, and now owns four distilleries: Bunnahabhain, Deanston, Ledaig and Tobermory. It also produces blends Black Bottle and Scotch Leader.

William Grant

William Grant’s is one of the few remaining family-run whisky companies and owner of the best-selling single malt in the world, Glenfiddich. It also owns single malt The Balvenie, and blends Grants and Clan MacGregor.

J & A Mitchell Co.

J & Mitchell Co. is one of the last remaining family-owned whisky producers in Scotland. It has owned and operated the Springbank distillery since 1828, and recently acquired and revived the Glengyle distillery. Springbank produces three disinct single malts: Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn.

Moet Hennesy Louis Vuitton

French luxury goods company LVMH acquired a majority stake in Glenmorangie in 2004 in a joint venture with minority owner Diageo, giving it control of the biggest selling malt in the U.K. It also owns Glen Moray and Ardbeg.

Tullibardine Distilleries Ltd.

Tuillibardine is an independent. It is a relatively recent arrival, having launched in 1946, sold to Whyte & Mackay in 1995 and then bought out by a group of private investors. It is rumored to be on the block again, although the company denies it. It produces one brand, Tuillibardine single malt.


Japanese conglomerate Suntory owns Morrison Bowmore Distillers. The three main distilleries include Bowmore, Auchentoshan, (reviewed in the 1st scotchtalk entry) and Glen Garioch.


Nikka, a Japanese whisky distiller and subsidiary of Japanese brewer Asahi, purchased Ben Nevis in 1989 and revived the moribund distilling facilities in 1991.

Takara Shuzo Company

Tomatin is owned by Japanese company Takara Shuzo. Their brands are Tomatin, Antiquary and Talisman.

15 Responses to “Distillery Owners Guide: Who Belongs to Whom?”

  1. […] Herald: SCOTCH WHISKY drinkers could face another hike in the cost of their favourite tipple as Diageo reviews for the second time this year the domestic pricing structure of brands including Johnnie […]

  2. […] Auchentoshan was acquired in 1984 by Morrison Bowmore, and is now controlled by Suntory from Japan. […]

  3. […] Bullish In Advance of Earnings Thursday, But Whispers of Price Hikes Diageo, maker of Johnny Walker, is expected to meet analyst estimates when it announces full-year earnings […]

  4. […] is the private distillery of Dewar’s, a division of Bacardi. It is located in the center of Scotland, about 5 miles east of Loch Tay and the town of Kenmore […]

  5. […] Meets Expectations, Cuts Forecast Diageo hit the high end of range, reporting 60.6 pence earnings per share, but lowered its 2009 forecast […]

  6. […] Chivas on Thursday said it had agreed to sell its Glendronach distillery to BenRaich in order to concentrate on its other whisky brands, including The Glenlivet, the BBC reports. […]

  7. […] it was mothballed by former owner Edrington Group, the distillery produced a  Glenglassaugh 12 year old and a highly-regarded 1973 “Family […]

  8. […] is bringing it back, with new bottlings planned for 2009. The place was previously owned by Edrington Group, and used to supply whisky for Cutty Sark and other […]

  9. […] will probably raise a new howl of protest from some who see the SWA as a tool of giant multinationals like Diageo hellbent on keeping new small competitors out of the market at all costs, including its own […]

  10. […] Want to Revive Rosebank, But the Plans Face Hurdles Diageo mothballed the old Rosebank distillery in Falkirk to focus its attentions on Glenkinichie. It is […]

  11. […] Want to Revive Rosebank, But Plan Faces Hurdles Diageo mothballed the old Rosebank distillery in Falkirk in 1993 to focus its attentions on Glenkinichie. […]

  12. […] Ricard Reports Record Scotch Sales, Including The Glenlivet Pernod Ricard stock slid nearly 10 percent yesterday on reports of a lackluster showing for liquor consumption […]

  13. […] a Reversal, Whyte & MacKay Posts Profit From the Edinburgh Evening News: WHYTE & Mackay has returned to growth in its first full year since being bought by Indian billionaire Vijay […]

  14. […] to Launch New Single Malt, The Singleton of Duffton Diageo is aiming at new whisky drinkers with a new release, The Singleton of Duffton. The 12-year-old […]

  15. […] Original, Ardbeg Take Top Marks in ‘Whisky Bible 2008′ LVMH-owned Glenmorangie has taken lots of chances lately, tinkering with its brand and recipes to great effect […]

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