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Edrington Group

Whisky Concerns


Edrington is a Scottish company and is controlled 100 % by The Robertson Trust.

The Trust bears the family name of the three Robertson sisters who inherited the many 0n-going success of these interests, in 1961 they brought them together under The Edrington Group (named after a farm near

This charitable trust is funded to a considerable degree by divided income from The Group and is charged with supporting a wide variety of charitable causes, largely in Scotland.

Last year (2009) the Trust gave 8,4 million Pound to charities.

The Brands:

The Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, The Macallan, Highland Park, Brugal

Other Brands: The Glenrothes, The Glenturret and Tamdhu

1855    William A. Robertson starts business in Glasgow
1857    Robertson & Baxter are founded
1879    Clyde Bonding Company Ltd founded
1884    Clyde Coperage Company Ltd is founded
1885    The North British Distillery Company Ltd founded,
             a patent - still distillery, shareholders include wine
             and spirit merchants and blenders such as Andrew Usher,
             William Sanderson & Son, James Watson & Co,
            John Crabbie & Co and George Robertson from
            Robertson &  Baxter                                      
1887    Highland Distilleries Limited is formed, an amalgamation
            between Bunnahabhain on Islay and Glen Rothes in Speyside,
            one of the promoters was W.A. Robertson from
            Robertson & Baxter
1920   J.P.O. Brien Ltd sells Caol Ila to Robertson & Baxter
1922   Buchanan - Dewar, John Walker & Sons and The Distillers Company
            Limited. (D.C.L. now Diageo) purchased for over 1000.000 Pound
            the stocks of Robertson & Baxter owners
            of Haig & Haig with its brand Pinch, so named in the United States
           and outside the U.S. named Dimple Robertson & Baxter were obliged
           to sell because the company's minority
            shareholders wished to realize their investments Robertson & Baxter
           was reconstructed to concentrate on blending for the own - label licensed
1927  Caol Ila distillery is sold to The Distillers Company Limited,
          (D.C.L. and now Diageo)
1936  Robertson & Baxter supplies Cutty Sark for Berry Bros and Rudd
          Limited in London
1961  Edrington Holdings Ltd established
1965  Robertson & Baxter aquires Lang Brothers Ltd and their
          Glengoyne distillery
1967  Clyde Cooperage becomes part of The Group
1970  Highland Distilleries Ltd acquired Matthew Gloag & Son blenders
           of the Famous Grouse and Black Bottle
1993  Robertson & Baxter acquires a 50 % interest in North British Distillery
1996  Robertson & Baxter, Clyde Bonding Company, The Clyde Coopergae
          Company are restructured and renamed The Group
1997  Cutty Sark International, a joint venture is formed with Berry
           Bros & Rudd Limited
1998  There are conflicts between The Edrington Group and Highland
           Distillers about future strategy about the management
           of Macallan and Famous Grouse and the question or wether
            Highland Distillers should be reprivatised.
1999   The Edrington Group Limited together with William Grant and Sons
            Limited (Glenfiddich) buy Highland Distillers Ltd,
           The Edrington Group already owns a 28 % share in Highland Distillers.
            The 1887 Company, since this time its official name, belongs for
            30 % to the Grants and 70 % to The EdringtonGroup
2001   Group's head quarters moves from West Nile Street to
           Great Western Road in Glasgow
2002  Edrington signs agreement with Hite Group to supply Lancelot
           range in South Korea   
2008  Edrington acquires majority in Brugal Company in the Dominican
           Republic, a rum company
2008  Edrington sells Glenglassaugh distillery
2009  Edrington and Beam Global set up a sales and distribution
           alliance in 24 international growth markets

February 2010
Edrington Group buys Cutty Sark from Berry Bros & Rudd.

In the deal is included that Berry Bros & Rudd will acquire the single malt brand Glenrothes
from the Edrington Group, which has signed long - term supply agreements to provide
whisky fillings to Berry Bros & Rudd

Edrington Group retains ownership of the distillery of Glenrothes
Edrington was since about 70 years the suppliers of blended whisky for the brand Cutty Sark

The transaction will involve Edrington Group acquiring distribution contracts on Cutty Sark
and its distribution alliance, Maxxium will continue to distribute The Glenrothes single malt

Is is expected to provide a distribution option for other brands within Berry Bros & Rudd's
super - premium spirits range of spirits.

The agreement starts at April 2010

Ian Curie of Edrington Group: "In an ever - consolidating drinks industrie, this deal offers
significant operational synergies and market advantages. It improves our distribution in
key territories and strengthens our position as an independent premium grand company"

Berry Bros & Rudd's Hugh Sturges said" The acquisition reflected its ambition to grow its
super - premium business as the Glenrothes single malt whisky is one of the world's
fastest growing single malts and we are convinced that future growth will come from us
focusing even more on our strengths. This means targeting our sales and marketing efforts
on those brands and sectors where we can compete most effectively and develop market
positions that will drive real value on the long term.

EDRINGTON  GROUP - November 2009:

Glenrothes: 5.600.000 litres                                                                    
Glenturret: 340.000 litres
Highland Park: 2.500.000 litres
Macallan: 8.000.000 litres
Tamdhu: 4.000.000 litres

September 2010
Edrington Group is investing
The restructuring follows a move by Edrington to improve its operational efficency and cut costs.
The firm says it will create industry - leading manufacturing facilitys
to meet the needs of the business.

Edrington has invested more than 37.000.000 Pound in the last five years.
The company is controlled by The Roberston Charitable  Trust
Chief executive is Ian Curie.

June 2011

The Edrington Group have sold Tamdhu distillery to Ian Macleod Distillers

Ian Curie, Chief Executive of The Edrington Group said: We are delighted to  complete the sale of Tamdhu to Ian Macleod Distillers. The Edrington Group
and Ian Macleod Distillers Distillery have a good relationship back for many years, and we know the Tamdhu Distillery and brand will be in good hands.

From Edrington's perspective, the sale will further de - complex our business, allowing us to continue to focus on the growth of our 5 key brands: The Famous
Grouse, The Macallan, Brugal, Cutty Sark and Highland Park.

Edrington has its headquarters in Glasgow and owns four Scottish distilleries, namely Glenrothes, Glenturret, Highland Park and Macallan, as well as being co-owner with Diageo of Edinburgh’s North British grain distillery. The organisation also has a majority shareholding in Brugal & Co, the leading producer of golden rum in the Dominican Republic, allowing for diversification beyond the sphere of Scotch whisky.

Glenturret in Perthshire is home of The Famous Grouse Experience, one of Scotland’s leading whisky-based attractions, while visitors are also welcome at Highland Park in the Orkney Islands and Macallan. The latter distillery on Speyside is the subject of a major reconstruction programme lasting until 2017, which includes the build of a new £100 million distillery. The Macallan is the third-best-selling single malt in the world, and has set many auction records with its rarest bottlings.

Robertson & Baxter was established in Glasgow during 1855 as a whisky and wine merchant and later whisky blender. Members of the Robertson family were also involved in the creation in 1887 of the Highland Distilleries Co, which initially owned Bunnahabhain distillery on Islay and Glenrothes on Speyside, and for many years Robertson & Baxter acted as sole selling agents for Highland Distilleries.

The Edrington name came into existence when the three Robertson sisters, Agnes, Elspeth and Ethel, inherited the whisky businesses founded and developed by their grandfather and father. In 1961 they formed the Edrington Group – named after a farm near their Scottish Borders home – which is owned by the Robertson Trust, a charitable institution.

In 1937 Highland Distilleries bought Highland Park, going on to acquire the Perth company of Matthew Gloag & Son in 1970. The prize Gloag asset for Highland Distilleries was The Famous Grouse blend, established in the late 19th century, though the Gloags had been acting as wine and spirit merchants in Perth since 1800.

In 1996 Highland Distilleries acquired a majority interest in Macallan, and three years later Edrington and William Grant & Sons bought Highland Distilleries for £601 million, with Suntory and Rémy Cointreau already shareholders. The 1887 company was formed to operate the assets, with Edrington holding 70% of the shares.

Brugal & Co was purchased in 2008, and two years later Edrington acquired the Cutty Sark brand from Berry Bros & Rudd, with whom it has enjoyed a long trading relationship. In return Edrington transferred the Glenrothes single malt brand to Berry Bros & Rudd, though the distillery remained in Edrington’s ownership.

Edrington eventually reacquired the Glenrothes brand in 2017 to aid efforts to accelerate its growth in international markets.


Cutty Sark
Glen Crinan
Glen Fyne
Glen Graeme
Highland Park
Hepburn, Jon, Mark & Robbo's Easy Drinking Whisky Company
Perth Royal
Peter Greig
Red Hackle
Scottish Cream
The Famous Grouse

Hepburn Jon, Mark & Robbo's Easy Drinking Whisky Company
Lothian Distillers Company
Matthew Gloag & Son
Robertson & Baxter Group
Row & Company
The Glenfyne Distillery Company

Part of the Robertson family’s extensive holdings in the Scotch whisky industry, Robertson & Baxter was a wholesale whisky blender with close ties to Highland Distillers and the Clyde Bonding Co. Both of these companies were either partially or wholly owned by the family and gave Robertson & Baxter access to large amounts of whisky, warehousing and bottling facilities. Three of founder William Robertson’s descendants were responsible for ensuring the on-going independence of the company, and creating the only whisky business to be wholly owned by a charitable trust.

Robertson & Thompson was founded by Fife-born William Alexander Robertson as a wholesale whisky blender and agent in Glasgow in 1855. When co-founder Robert Thompson left to open his own business in 1860 John Baxter – a clerk within the company – became partner. And so, Robertson & Baxter was formed. When Baxter retired in 1872, Northumbrian Thomas Wightman stepped in to take his place, but Baxter’s legacy continued in the company name.

As the R&B business grew, the partners looked into the possibility of building a distillery on Islay and in 1881 – in partnership with William Ford & Sons and McMurchy & Ralston – they founded the Islay Distilling Co. Ltd. to build Bunnahabhain distillery. A shortage of barrels led to the founding of the Clyde Cooperage Co. Ltd. in 1884 to support the needs of the company and its distillery.

The company became part of a group that founded Highland Distillers in 1887, following the merger of the Islay Distilling Co. with the Glenrothes distillery. William Robertson served as first chairman of the new business and R&B was appointed sole agent for Highland Distillers whiskies.

In 1892 R&B purchased the Glenglassaugh distillery near Portsoy for £10,000 and promptly re-sold it to Highland Distillers for £15,000. Four years later R&B – along with 14 other partners including William Grant – built the Tamdhu distillery in Speyside. The following year founder William Robertson died leaving a trust fund in his will for his 10 children, which was to run until his youngest daughter turned 21. His oldest son, James, became chairman of the company.

The early part of the 20th century saw a string of new acquisitions and investments for the group, including the purchase of Haig & Haig in 1907, and later Glenfyne distillery in Argyll, and Strathdee near Aberdeen. In 1919 R&B provided the majority share capital to form West Highland Malt Distillers Ltd., with the aim of sharing costs and preventing the closure of six Campbeltown distilleries: Glen Nevis, (Glen) Scotia, Glengyle, Dalintober, Kinloch, Ardlussa. However, it wasn’t long before WHMD was liquidated in 1924, Scotia being the only distillery to survive the company’s bankruptcy.

By 1922 the children of the company’s partners who were not working in the industry wished to release the assets tied up in R&B. As such, Haig & Haig was passed to DCL and all the whisky stocks sold equally to a consortium consisting of DCL, John Walker & Sons and the newly merged Buchanan-Dewar group before the company was placed in voluntary liquidation. Two sons, James and Alexander, formed a new company, Robertson & Co., with the aim of purchasing the remaining assets and the original company name. Unfortunately, so complex was the liquidation that this took over 10 years to complete and it was 1937 before all the assets were transferred. At this point, James Robertson’s three daughters received 3,000 shares each in the new company.

During this period R&B had agreed a contract with wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd in London to blend and supply BBR’s Cutty Sark blended Scotch whisky – a brand that would grow to become one of the first million-case spirits in the US. From this point onwards, R&B focused its efforts on supplying and bottling whisky blends under contract to trade suppliers.

To reinforce the relationship between R&B and Highland Distillers, Alexander Robertson’s death in the 1940s gave Highland Distillers the opportunity to purchase his shareholding. This locked the two companies together and helped them both withstand future takeover attempts.

The company purchased whisky blender Hepburn & Ross in 1959, including its popular Red Hackle brand, and in 1965 it also acquired Lang Brothers Ltd. including the Glengoyne distillery.

In 1961, the three daughters of James Robertson, who wished to preserve the independence of the group, placed all of the family interests into one holding company, which they called Edrington. The sisters – Miss Agnes, Miss Ethel and Miss Elspeth – requested the dividends from Edrington be passed to a new charitable trust, The Robertson Trust, which is now one of Scotland’s largest having donated more than £150 million to Scottish charities.

Already a major shareholder in Edinburgh grain distillery North British, R&B collaborated with Grand Metropolitan in 1993 to purchase the business. The two companies created Lothian Distillers as a joint venture to oversee the operation of the distillery.

Eventually, in 1996, Edrington began a major restructuring of its businesses and brought R&B, along with Clyde Bonding Co. and the Clyde Cooperage Company under the Edrington Group name. Highland Distillers followed shortly after.


The Edrington Group (Current owner)
Hepburn & Ross
Highland Distillers
Jon, Mark & Robbo's Easy Drinking Whisky Company
Lothian Distillers Company
Matthew Gloag & Son
Row & Company
The Glenfyne Distillery Company


Over the last century or so The Famous Grouse has developed into one of the world’s leading Scotch whiskies and in recent years has been flanked by complementary expressions to form a range of its own.

The Famous Grouse range also features Smoky Black, which incorporates peated whiskies from Islay and also Glenturret distillery into the blend, as well as a heavily-peated expression, Black Grouse Alpha Edition, which features a higher content of aged malts.

The Naked Grouse was introduced as a premium offering in the range, containing whiskies matured in first-fill Sherry casks for a richer, fruiter flavour. The Famous Grouse Mellow Gold, designed to impart a ‘smoother’ and sweeter palate, is the newest addition to the range.

While many sources claim the Famous Grouse story began in 1800, the story of Matthew Gloag & Sons didn’t start with the Gloags at all. Rather, it began with the Browns.

John Brown established his Perth grocery business in 1800 before moving the premises to Atholl Street seven years later. It was his daughter, Margaret, who married Matthew Gloag. She took over the family business from her father in 1824 and ran it until Matthew took control a little over a decade later.

It was in fact Margaret who acquired a license to sell wine and spirits (and snuff) in 1831; Matthew didn’t join the business until 1835 when the name was changed to Matthew Gloag. Margaret died just five years later.

Business in Atholl Street was good; Gloag had a wide knowledge of wines and spirits after managing the cellar of the Sheriff Clerk of Perthshire for more than 30 years. By the time Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Scotland for the first time in 1842 as guests of the Earl of Mansfield, he was given the honour of supplying food and wine to the Earl’s home at Scone Palace near Perth. After the Queen and Prince’s visit, enthusiasm south of the border soon spread for all things Scottish; a market trend that he was keen to exploit.

By the time Matthew Gloag died in 1860, the family business portfolio focused mostly on wines and his son, William Gloag, largely continued this trend.

It wasn’t until Matthew Gloag III inherited the business from William in 1896 that the company registered its first blended Scotch, the Brig o’ Perth. A year later, The Famous Grouse was released at the same time as The Grouse Brand.

Originally, The Famous Grouse was priced lower than the Grouse Brand. In a little over 10 years, the reverse would be true thanks to the popularity of The Famous Grouse. As if to emphasise the family connection, it was Matthew III’s daughter, Phillippa, who drew the very first, and now famous, red grouse that we see on the bottle.

When US Prohibition came into force in January 1920, the Scotch world was dismayed. Economic depression, coupled with high taxation, had forced a high reliance on export markets. However, as was the case with a handful of other blenders, the company’s distribution to markets close to the United States such as Canada, Latin America and the West Indies suddenly shot up. If some shipments made their way into the States, then so be it.

By the 1960s, business had grown to such an extent that exports to America alone had risen to 12 million proof gallons. By 1968 it had risen to 33m. The future was looking rosy for Matthew Gloag & Sons, but just two years later tragedy struck. Both Matthew Frederick Gloag – Matthew Gloag III’s grandson and a major shareholder in the company – and his wife, Edith, passed away within two days of each other.

In the same year Estate Duty was running at 30% on all properties worth over £10,000. These costs, coupled with the death duties due on both his parents, forced Matthew Irving Gloag and his partners to seek a buyer for the company. Just months later Highland Distillers bought the company for £1.25m, although Matthew Irving Gloag remained as a director to continue the family’s involvement.

Highland Distillers’ ownership lasted until November 1999 when The Edrington Group purchased it for £601m. Edrington remains the owner of The Famous Grouse and the Glenturret distillery; which is now home to the visitor attraction, The Famous Grouse Experience.

Since Edrington’s takeover, the process of premiumisation has been on-going at The Famous Grouse. In 2006, the peated Black Grouse was released, followed two years later by Snow Grouse, a blended grain whisky. By 2010, The Naked Grouse was introduced as a premium offering.

In July 2015, while still retaining the traditional Famous Grouse bottling, the company rebranded The Black Grouse as The Famous Grouse Smoky Black, and introduced The Famous Grouse Mellow Gold to create the brand’s first core range.

At the same time a distinctly purple-hued redesign of The Famous Grouse’s packaging was implemented in a bid to premiumise the brand.

Joseph Brown opens a grocery shop in Perth
Brown moves the shop to 22 Atholl Street; this becomes the headquarters for The Famous Grouse for 99 years
Margaret Brown, Joseph’s daughter, marries Matthew Gloag
Margaret takes over her father’s business
Matthew Gloag joins his wife full-time at the Atholl Street shop
Matthew Gloag wins the contract to supply food and wine for the visit of
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Perth
William Gloag dies; his nephew, Matthew Gloag III, takes over the business.
The Gloags register their first blended Scotch: the Brig o’ Perth
Both The Grouse Brand and The Famous Grouse are launched
The Famous Grouse brand is officially registered to Matthew Gloag and Sons Ltd.
Matthew Frederick Gloag and his wife, Edith, pass away; Highland Distillers buys
The Famous Grouse for £1.25m
The Famous Grouse is awarded a Royal Warrant by Queen Elizabeth II
Highland Distillers is taken over by The Edrington Group for £601m
Matthew Irving Gloag retires from the company due to ill health.
The last Gloag to be involved in the company, he remains a consultant for life
The Black Grouse is launched
The Famous Grouse’s core range is overhauled and redesigned; Mellow Gold is introduced

Matthew Gloag & Son

Highland Distillers
1970 - 1999
Matthew Gloag & Son
1896 - 1970


Perhaps it was the discerning acquisitions of its board, or the close relationship the company held in whisky blender and agent Robertson & Baxter that led to Highland Distillers’ success.

During its time Highland Distillers bought and operated several Scotch distilleries and brands, including Highland Park, Tamdhu, Bunnahabhain, Glenturret, Glenrothes, Glenglassaugh, Macallan, and the Black Bottle and The Famous Grouse blends.

It became part of The Edrington Group in 1999, which was established by the descendants of one of Robertson & Baxter’s founders.

For the best part of its operation, Highland Distillers was focused squarely on the purchase and operation of distilleries to supply the blended whisky brands owned by its close trade partner Robertson & Baxter.

It was established in 1887 with the amalgamation of the Islay Distillery Company – the owner of the newly built Bunnahabhain distillery – and Glenrothes distillery. Robertson & Baxter, the Glasgow whisky merchant and blender, was involved in its set-up, and was the sole selling agent for Highland Distilleries for many years. It even assisted in the purchase of distilleries for the group – in 1892 R&B bought Glenglassaugh near Portsoy and promptly flipped it to Highland Distillers, with a £5,000 mark-up of course.

In 1897 a group of blenders that included William Grant – who was a director of Highland Distillers at the time – built Tamdhu distillery at Knockando, and sold it onto Highland Distillers two years later.

The 20th century brought Highland Distillers ample opportunities to acquire new distilleries, though it was choosy about its purchases. In 1937 it purchased Highland Park on Orkney, though just a year earlier it declined an offer to buy The Glenlivet from George & JG Smith.

Come 1948, following the death of Alexander Robertson, Highland Distillers finally acquired its own shares in Robertson & Baxter, which incestuously maintained its own shares in the former. The two companies worked almost hand-in-hand – Highland Distillers’ malts were used extensively in R&B’s blends, and the companies even had offices in the same building.

The company’s first foray into blended whisky came in 1970 with the acquisition of Matthew Gloag & Son, the Perth whisky merchant and owner of The Famous Grouse blend following the untimely death of Freddie Gloag. It didn’t acquire Glenturret distillery, now the home of The Famous Grouse in Scotland, for another 20 years.

In the years that followed, Highland Distillers added the disused Parkmore distillery buildings, the Black Bottle blend and Macallan distillery to its portfolio.

By 1999 it had grown to become one of the largest distillery operators and blenders in the country. That year Highland Distillers joined The Edrington Group, which had been established in 1961 by the three daughters of James Robertson using the family’s company interests.

Edrington formed the 1887 Company to manage the assets joining its portfolio, which included Highland Park, Tamdhu, Bunnahabhain, Glenturret, Glenrothes, Glenglassaugh, Macallan, Parkmore, and the Black Bottle and Famous Grouse brands. Many have since been sold on, and only Highland Park, Glenturret, Glenrothes, Macallan, Parkmore and Famous Grouse remain with Edrington to this day.


The Edrington Group (Parent company)
The 1887 Company (Owner)
Hepburn & Ross
Jon, Mark & Robbo's Easy Drinking Whisky Company
Lothian Distillers Company
Matthew Gloag & Son
Robertson & Baxter Group
Row & Company
The Glenfyne Distillery Company

Perhaps it was the discerning acquisitions of its board, or the close relationship the company held in whisky blender and agent Robertson & Baxter that led to Highland Distillers’ success. During its time Highland Distillers bought and operated several Scotch distilleries and brands, including Highland Park, Tamdhu, Bunnahabhain, Glenturret, Glenrothes, Glenglassaugh, Macallan, and the Black Bottle and The Famous Grouse blends.

It became part of The Edrington Group in 1999, which was established by the descendants of one of Robertson & Baxter’s founders.


Robertson & Baxter created this wholly owned subsidiary company in 1919 to purchase and operate the Glenfyne distillery in Ardrishaig, on the banks of the Crinan Canal. The distillery closed in 1919 but the company still sits on the books of Edrington.

After William Foulds & Co. of Greenock was declared bankrupt in 1918, Robertson & Baxter Ltd. had its eye on securing its assets for itself. The following year The Glenfyne Distillery Company was created to purchase the Glenfyne distillery (also known as Glendarroch) in Ardrishaig, and the Scottish Cream blend.

Glenfyne distillery was located in a picturesque part of Scotland at the southern end of the Crinan Canal, and was easily viewed by passengers travelling by boat. Alfred Barnard visited the distillery when it was known as Glendarroch, and noted how impressed he was by the ‘enchanting’ location and slick operation of the site.

Its single malt was known as Glamis, though Glenfyne Distillery Co also blended and bottled the Peter Greig, Glen Fyne and Glen Crinan whiskies.

The Glenfyne Distillery Co. continued to operate the distillery until 1937 when it was closed, however the distillery warehouses continued to be used for a number of years. Most of the buildings have now been demolished and the company sits silently as part of Edrington.


Glen Fyne
Peter Greig

The Edrington Group (Current owner)
Hepburn & Ross
Highland Distillers
Jon, Mark & Robbo's Easy Drinking Whisky Company
Lothian Distillers Company
Matthew Gloag & Son
Robertson & Baxter Group
Row & Company

Pernod sells the Glenallachie Distillery
July, 2017

Pernod Ricard has announced the signing of an agreement with the Glenallachie Consortium, comprising Billy Walker, Graham Stevenson and Trisha Savage, for the sale of the Scottish distillery Glenallachie.

The transaction also includes the Glenallachie single malt brand, MacNair’s and White Heather blended scotch brands, and relevant inventories to support its strategy to focus on its priority spirits and wine brands and to adjust its industrial footprint to its needs.

The closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions and is expected to take place before the end of 2017.

The Glenallachie Consortium
Billy Walker is a well known character in the scotch whisky industry, having now been involved in the industry for more than 40 years. With a degree in chemistry Walker has been involved in most aspects of the production of scotch whisky, having spent time at Ballantines, Inver House Distillers and Burn Stewart. More recently he was instrumental in establishing and building the BenRiach Distillery Company prior to its sale in 2016.

Graham Stevenson is a chartered accountant who has spent almost 30 years in the scotch whisky industry. He initially joined the North British Distillery Company in Edinburgh before moving to Inver House Distillers in 1994. He has remained there for the past 23 years, most of that time as managing director.

Trisha Savage has over 30 years’ experience in scotch. Starting at Burn Stewart she has worked with Billy throughout her career and was also instrumental in establishing and building the BenRiach Distillery Company.

The consortium says its mission is to be a wholly Scottish-owned, Scottish-based, and truly independent scotch whisky company producing excellent whiskies and offering them to the market at premium but affordable prices.

March 2018
With her two sisters, Ethel Greig Robertson – better-known as ‘Miss Babs’ – took over the whisky businesses of her father, thwarting overseas takeovers and safeguarding them for the future. In the process, she created Edrington, one of Scotch whisky’s biggest operators and the owner of Macallan, Highland Park and The Famous Grouse.

‘Intelligent and astute’: Miss Babs proved an able businesswoman after her father’s death
It is a matter of some regret that I never met ‘Miss Babs’ Robertson, but when I was researching the history of the Robertson Trust in 2000 I interviewed many people who knew her well.

She was clearly a remarkable individual. Tall, graceful and gracious, many compared her manner to royalty; stylish and strikingly good-looking, with deep blue eyes; fond of fast cars (she favoured Aston Martins). Intelligent and astute, brimful of common sense, hard-working and determined.

Above all, she had very high personal and business principles, and an unwavering dedication to the people employed by the family companies, whom she regarded as an extension of her own family.

Born in 1903 and christened Ethel Greig Robertson, although always known by her childhood nickname ‘Babs’, she was the youngest of three sisters and one brother. Tragically, her mother died in childbirth.

Their grandfather, William Alexander Robertson, had founded Robertson & Baxter (R&B), the Glasgow firm of brokers and blenders, in 1861; the Clyde Bonding Company in 1879; and Highland Distillers in 1887, but died six years before Babs was born.

Notwithstanding this, it would seem that her character was much influenced by her grandfather – ‘vigorous, hard-working and talented’; noted for his commercial integrity and his ‘generous and unostentatious support of philanthropic works’.

He was highly influential in the whisky trade, and although R&B was a small firm, it was described as ‘the most important business of its kind in the country’.

Several men who would become giants in the industry served their apprenticeships at R&B, including Sir Alexander Walker – whose father was a close friend of Robertson – and John Dewar Jnr.

W.A. Robertson was succeeded as chairman of R&B and Highland by his oldest son, James (b.1864). Like his father, he rose to eminence in the whisky trade – ‘far-sighted and shrewd, but also considerate and courteous: he habitually took the time to enquire of and show concern for even the most lowly of his employees’.

The characteristics of ‘grace’ and ‘common touch’ which impressed everyone who met his daughters were clearly learned from their father.

In the absence of their mother, the sisters were strictly brought up under the regime of the family’s housekeeper, Miss Shoreditch, who ‘ruled them with great constraint’, according to a school report, but in spite of this the girls led a happy and active social life.

During the 1920s they paid frequent visits to their Uncle Louis in London. Louis Greig, their late mother's brother, was a gifted Glaswegian surgeon and an intimate of Prince Albert (later King George VI), whose life he had saved when he persuaded King George V to consent to him operating on the Prince for a duodenal ulcer.

Greig was made the Prince’s Comptroller and won the Men’s Doubles at Wimbledon with his royal master. He also persuaded Albert not to give up when the latter had been turned down by Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon: had it not been for him, there would have been no Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother!

James Robertson was a passionate stalker and fisherman. The girls learned from him how to handle both rod and rifle, and were his companions on many sporting expeditions around Scotland, especially during the annual migrations to Kintail between mid-August and mid-October each year, where the family owned Kintail Lodge (now the Kintail Lodge Hotel) and leased stalking over neighbouring estates.

The life here was not as constrained as in Edinburgh, and Miss Shoreditch could be – and was – given the slip, if there was a ceilidh or other midnight adventure afoot.

The Robertsons spent much time at Kintail Lodge, now a hotel

It was here that the sisters’ love of horses and dogs was nurtured; they walked and sailed with the stream of friends who came to stay, and developed a love of stalking in the high hills.

Miss Babs killed her first stag in 1936; at the date when the game book finishes, two months before her death, she had shot 659 stags. At the start of each day it was her custom to fill the stalkers’ flasks with whisky, and the first two stags of the season were always butchered down and distributed to former staff in the district.

James Robertson died in January 1944. Everything he possessed passed to his spinster daughters (their brother William had died during the Great Flu Epidemic in 1919): an estate of nearly £190,000, most of it made up by his shares in the family businesses, R&B and the Clyde Bonding Company. In these companies the sisters now held a controlling interest.

Miss Babs, now 41, was deputed by her sisters to represent them in business matters. Miss Elspeth, who was 48, and Miss Agnes, 47, took care of the family farms in Berwickshire and interested themselves in other matters.

But the sisters were a united force: all decisions, even those relating to business, were taken jointly. They could not be divided and ruled.

Miss Babs had no previous experience of business, but during the years in which she was learning about the trade she had been born into – the duty that had been thrust upon her – she was blessed by having sound guidance from the companies’ directors and the senior partner of their auditors, who lunched with her every day.

Then, in 1947, Miss Babs received a visit from ‘an American gentleman’.

When they were privately installed in the Board Room at 106 West Nile Street, Glasgow, the visitor came directly to the point. ‘Miss Robertson,’ he said. ‘I should like to buy your holding in Robertson & Baxter. In short, I want to buy the company.’

‘The shares and the company are not for sale,’ was the reply.

‘You have not asked me how much I would be prepared to pay,’ came the rejoinder.

‘The shares are not for sale at any price.

Those who knew Miss Robertson report that when she ended a conversation with such determination, there was nothing more to be said. She and her visitor went out for lunch, and Miss Ethel later reported that he was a charming lunch companion.

The ‘American gentleman’ was Samuel Bronfman, founder and president of Distillers Corporation-Seagram of Canada, a man with a tyrannical reputation and a very quick temper: ‘He was given to horrendous outbursts of rage, was acquisitive on a grand scale, and to get what he wanted could be charming as well as considerate.’

The Edrington name was taken from one of the Robertsons’ farms

At a board meeting, his nephew once cautioned Uncle Sam to watch his temper or he would get ulcers. Sam grabbed him by the tie and said: ‘Listen. I don't get ulcers. I give them.’

Once set upon a path, Mr Sam was not one to be easily diverted. In 1955 the board of Highland Distillers was approached by Stanley P Morrison, the well-known Glasgow broker (and later owner of Bowmore distillery), with an offer to buy the company ‘from an unnamed American syndicate’, which turned out to be Seagram.

The Highland board replied that ‘they were not contemplating a sale’, and their key customer, the Distillers Company, announced that they would counter the bid.

Although Seagram backed off, both Highland and R&B were thoroughly shaken, and formed a supply/purchase agreement to make it more difficult for a hostile bidder to take them over.

The Robertson sisters were especially concerned about the effect a takeover would have on the staff of R&B, and also about the impact of inheritance tax in the event of their deaths. Death duties were charged at 80% of the estate, and the sisters were 64, 63 and 57 in 1960

They sought the advice of the leading tax barrister of the day, who proposed the creation of a holding company and a charitable trust. The sisters’ capital in the family businesses would be transferred to the former, which was named Edrington after one of their farms in Berwickshire, and the shares received in return, including all shares with voting powers, were gifted to the latter, named The Robertson Trust.

The Trust Deed was signed on 1 May 1961. Its two stated purposes were: first, to ensure that the family concerns should ‘continue as active businesses in the control of British subjects’ and, second, that ‘the support we have given to a large number of charities should be continued and extended’.

The trustees were granted a very broad remit ‘to make payments out of revenue of sums for charitable purposes as the Trustees may in their sole discretion determine, and for such charitable purposes only’.

Today, the Robertson Trust is the largest independent charitable trust in Scotland, distributing around £20m to over 500 worthy causes a year.

I have mentioned that Miss Babs drove a series of Aston Martins. To many, these elegant motors epitomised her character – stylish, dashing, very British.

She was a fast and capable driver – as soon as it was invented, she installed a device for identifying speed traps – but it was two days after an accident on a wintery road in 1985 that she died ‘from chest injuries following a road traffic accident’, according to her death certificate. She was 82.

Maxxium UK to become Edrington-Beam Suntory UK Distribution
March, 2018

Maxxium UK has announced that it is to change its name to Edrington-Beam Suntory UK Distribution Limited, from April 1.

The business, which is a joint venture between Edrington and Beam Suntory, manages UK sales, marketing and distribution of a portfolio of brands – including The Famous Grouse blended scotch; Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbons; The Macallan, Laphroaig, Highland Park and Auchentoshan single malts; House of Suntory Japanese whiskies; Courvoisier cognac, Brugal 1888 rum and the Lucas Bols portfolio.

The company says the rebranding comes as brands in the Edrington-Beam Suntory UK portfolio grew by +5% in 2017. It says it continues to out-perform the UK spirit market, cementing its position as third largest spirit business in the UK, with its portfolio of whiskies commanding a 24% value share (Value sales, combined on and off trade: CGA 52 w/e 02.12.17, Nielsen 52 w/e 30.12.17)

Edrington-Beam Suntory UK has also announced that it will take on marketing and distribution for Effen vodka, the Sauza tequila family and Kilbegggan Irish whiskey. These Beam Suntory brands will join the portfolio from May 1,2018.

Edrington-Beam Suntory UK managing director Mark Riley, said: “Premium vodka continues to grow ahead of the market, tequila has been one of the fastest-growing spirits in recent times and Irish whiskey continues to go from strength to strength.”

As to plans for future growth, the new company has outlined its focus on a range of platforms to ensure continued growth:
· Up-weighted focus and investment on two of the biggest brands in the portfolio – Jim Beam and The Famous Grouse;
· Growing the ‘contemporary whiskies’ category in the UK market. This will be led by a key city strategy and investment for brands including Maker’s Mark, Naked Grouse and Auchentoshan, capitalising on heightened interest in whiskies among younger drinkers;

· Continued growth in single malts. With a portfolio including The Macallan, Laphroaig, Highland Park, Bowmore and The Ardmore, the new business has a single malt whisky to meet every consumer occasion, price point and taste profile, says E-BS UK;

· Building a stronger presence in the growing luxury segment of spirits through The Macallan, as well as Japanese whisky brands, Hibiki, Yamazaki, Hakushu and the new single grain whisky, Chita;
· Investment for Courvoisier, the UK’s leading cognac brand and one of the biggest UK spirits brands, which will continue to grow its premium offering through VSOP and premium marques;
· Edrington-Beam Suntory UK will continue to develop new brands, such as Dominican rum, Brugal 1888 and recently-launched Roku Japanese Gin, alongside the newly integrated Sauza Tequila, Kilbeggan Whiskey and Effen Vodka brands, with further launches planned for 2018.

Riley said: “We already have some of the world’s most prestigious and well-established brands in our portfolio. We work closely with our shareholders and customers to bring innovation to the market with the likes of Roku Japanese Gin and Brugal 1888 rum.”

22 June 2018
Blended Scotch Cutty Sark and Glenturret distillery – the home of The Famous Grouse – are being put up for sale by their owner Edrington as part of plans to refocus its portfolio on premium brands. Blended Scotch whisky Cutty Sark, which has its roots in Prohibition America, has been sold to French drinks group La Martiniquaise-Bardinet.

Cutty Sark
French ownership: Historic blended Scotch Cutty Sark has been purchased by La Martiniquaise-Bardinet
Glasgow-based Edrington sold the brand for an undisclosed sum.

In June Edrington put up the Cutty Sark brand and Glenturret distillery – the home of the Famous Grouse – for sale after deciding to focus on its luxury brands, including the Macallan and Highland Park.

The purchase of Cutty Sark makes La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, which owns Glen Moray and Starlaw distilleries, as well as the Sir Edward’s and Label 5 blended Scotch whiskies, the world’s fifth-largest spirits group.

The transfer is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Edrington will continue to provide blending and bottling and other associated services during a transition period.

Ian Curle, chief executive of Edrington, said: ‘Cutty Sark is a great Scotch whisky and has been a worldwide whisky icon for the last 90 years.

‘We are pleased to be transferring the brand to La Martiniquaise-Bardinet and know that it will thrive under their ownership.’

Founded in 1923, Cutty Sark was illegally smuggled into the US during Prohibition by then owner Berry Bros. & Rudd, where it established a strong following.

Jean-Pierre Cayard, president of La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, said: ‘We are proud to take ownership of this powerful brand. Cutty Sark perfectly complements our portfolio of international brands including Label 5, Sir Edward’s & Glen Moray Scotch whisky, Poliakov vodka, Porto Cruz and Negrita & Saint James rum.

‘This acquisition is a major step forward to accelerate our international expansion. It will further strengthen our position in Europe and boost our presence in key markets such as the US & Japan. With Cutty Sark, we consolidate our position in Scotch whisky, entering in the world’s top five groups.’

Named after the famous British clipper ship, Cutty Sark is a light blend centred around North British and Invergordon grain whiskies, with malts from over 40 distilleries.

Cutty Sark remained under the ownership of Berry Bros. & Rudd until 2010 when ownership was transferred to Edrington.

There is currently no update on the sale of Glenturret distillery

The Famous Grouse Experience will close at Glenturret distillery following its sale
The owner of the new Macallan distillery on Speyside expects a ‘high level of interest’ in the two brands from prospective buyers.

Glenturret distillery in Crieff is currently home to the Famous Grouse visitor centre, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year.

While Glenturret’s single malt whisky is a relatively small brand on its own, selling around 48,000 bottles a year, it forms a major component of the blended Scotch.

Both the distillery and visitor centre are being offered for sale, which will see the closure of the Famous Grouse Experience, although all 31 employees at the site are expected to keep their jobs in the transfer.

Edrington will however keep hold of The Famous Grouse brand, which is the best-selling whisky in Scotland.

Gerry O’Donnell, corporate affairs director for Edrington, said the company is considering creating a new visitor experience for the brand elsewhere.

‘It’s a good chance for us to reimagine our experiences for consumers in the future,’ he said.

Edrington chief executive Ian Curle said the sale of both Glenturret and Cutty Sark would enable the company to focus on its premium portfolio, including Macallan, Highland Park, Glenrothes and Famous Grouse.

‘Premium spirits is the fastest growing area of the spirits market,’ he said.

‘Focusing our resources and investment on the brands best equipped to compete powerfully will help Edrington to capitalise on the long term prospects from premium spirits.’

Heritage brand: Cutty Sark was originally created to be smuggled across to the US during Prohibition

The news follows the opening of Macallan’s new subterranean distillery near Craigellachie, which forms part of a £500 million investment in the brand.

O’Donnell added: ‘These brands are above Glenturret in the pecking order and it’s our sense that Glenturret will get the focus and investment and consideration in another owner that it probably needs.’

The sale will also allow Edrington to focus on the development of Glenrothes single malt, having bought the distillery back from London wine and spirits retailer Berry Bros. & Rudd in April 2017.

Now available in over 30 countries, Glenrothes will see a new range and packaging introduced later this summer.

Cutty Sark, which was created in 1923 by Berry Bros. & Rudd, and owned by Edrington since 2010, is the biggest selling blended Scotch in Spain, Greece and Portugal, selling over eight million bottles a year.

The brand accounts for 10% of all spirits bottled at Edrington’s Great Western Road facility in Glasgow, although any impact on production ‘can be managed over time’.

The news comes as Edrington announced an annual sales increase of 7% for its 2017/18 financial year, and pre-tax profit increase of 3%.

The company also produces Brugal rum and Snow Leopard vodka.

The main seasoning bodegas are Gonzales Byass and  William  & Humbert and the casks are seasoned with dry Oloroso sherry which spend 18 months in casks, emptied and transported
to Scotland. About 95 % of all sherry imported into Scotland is imported by Edrington.

December 2018
Glenturret distillery, the home of The Famous Grouse, has been sold to the Swiss owner of Lalique crystal.

Glenturret currently welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year
The distillery, based on the banks of the River Turret in Crieff, has been home to the blended Scotch whisky brand for the past 40 years.

Edrington, which owns Macallan and Highland Park distilleries, sold the site to Art & Terroir, a French wine producer and distributor operated by Lalique owner Silvio Denz.

The deal includes both the Glenturret distillery and single malt brand, as well as some maturing stock, although Edrington will retain the Famous Grouse brand.

The deal, made for an undisclosed sum, is expected to complete in spring 2019, and will safeguard the jobs of all Glenturret’s employees.

Ian Curle, chief executive of Edrington, said: ‘When we announced the sale in June, we were clear that we expected that all jobs would be safeguarded and we are pleased that negotiations have settled on a good result for Edrington and Art & Terroir, and one which will protect all our employees at Glenturret.’

Licensed distilling began at Glenturret in 1818 when it was known as The Hosh.

One of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, Glenturret has preserved traditional brewing and distilling practices, and currently welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year.

Denz, managing director of Art & Terroir, said: ‘Glenturret is the perfect choice as we enter the world of Scotch whisky and we are looking forward to working with the existing team to bring even greater success to this superb single malt and to its beautiful Perthshire surroundings.’

Edrington announced it was seeking a buyer for Glenturret and its blended Scotch brand Cutty Sark in June this year.

Last month the sale of Cutty Sark to French drinks group La Martiniquaise-Bardinet was confirmed for an undisclosed sum.

Through Art & Terroir, Denz owns and distributes several vineyards in Bordeaux, as well as Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey in Sauternes.


Berry Bros & Rudd’s brands heritage director Ronnie Cox introduced vintages to Glenrothes malts in the 1990s. With the brand now under the ownership of Edrington, which recently reintroduced age statements, Cox argues vintage whisky still has an important role to play.

A vintage malt, like these Glenrothes editions, contains whisky distilled in a single year
Edrington’s decision to exchange vintage Glenrothes for the Soleo Collection based on age statements has got me thinking. When we pioneered vintage malts at Berry Bros & Rudd in 1994 it was quite a radical move, and one I believe had many virtues.

At the time Berry Bros – better known then as a top-end wine merchant – had a very small, esoteric range of single cask whiskies that we’d bottle occasionally. We also owned the Cutty Sark blend, but we had no distillery and no brand of single malt. So, when looking at the increasingly popular world of single malts, we needed to differentiate ourselves and wondered: ‘What can we add, that hasn’t already been tried?’

We approached what is now Edrington, secured an arrangement to develop the Glenrothes single malt and then looked at the marketing using the wine business as a springboard.

In wines each vintage will be slightly different from the previous one, yet maintain the core values of the Château or producer. Vintages for Glenrothes reflect the character of the distillery but vary according to the natural diversity in the casks rather than the climatic conditions in the vineyard you get with wine. With malt whisky there may be other factors such as changes in strains of barley or in distillery equipment, but I maintain the main cause of vintage variation lies in the wood.

New direction: The Soleo Collection marks a departure from vintage malts for Glenrothes

In my view, because ‘brands’ have to be consistent in flavour, colour and presentation by their very nature, the original recipe may have been maintained without the benefit of our increased knowledge of what happens in the cask. With Glenrothes we wanted to make a virtue out of these natural variations of wood and spirit and apply it to future vintages. In that way we would have lots of different styles and a platform for continuous improvement as opposed to a consistency in age statements.

These styles were also inspired by the wine world. A glass of Champagne represents an ‘upper’. It’s stimulating with its floral, citrus notes and effervescence, and is definitely a pre-dinner drink, while something heavier, spicier and sweeter like vintage Port is for the end of the evening. If it works for wine, we thought why not apply it to whisky with one vintage ‘uplifting’, another ‘relaxing’, and in between what I like to call a ‘conversational’ style of malt. Luckily Glenrothes’ new make sits in the middle – it’s not heavy, oily or full of smoke, so it proved relatively easy to play around with the different casks.

The original malt master John Ramsay and his able successor, Gordon Motion, deserve much of the credit. I would go to them and say we’re looking for an ‘uplifting’ style and after a year or two they understood exactly what I wanted. To make it easier for ourselves we limited the availability of the vintage to just 2% of what the distillery produced in the selected year. The rest went to satisfy the demand of the blenders, including Cutty Sark. John, Gordon and their team would carefully select the casks to fit the desired style. Over time we learned what really good casks could do to the wonderful Glenrothes spirit. When Edrington took over the brand in May 2017 it inherited a whole lot of really first-class casks.

Cox argues vintage malt provides a platform for continuous improvement

But, my goodness, it was a hard concept to explain at first. I think the industry thought we were completely mad selling only vintage single malts in a peculiar, dumpy bottle. A few years later we were flattered to find Balblair had also embraced the concept along with the bulbous-shaped bottle in 2007. It definitely suits a boutique malt with very limited releases, but there is no doubt it becomes trickier as it grows.

I think the reason Edrington decided to go back to age statements was largely about stock management and consistency. They probably said: ‘Where will this brand be in 20 years’ time, and what sort of volumes will we be doing?’ From a commercial perspective age statements clearly make sense and they are certainly easier to manage.

That said, I believe Glenrothes should always have vintage malts in the background. It’s a concept that works very well for a slightly maverick, independent company, and if I were to start a new distillery I would definitely push it. The ground has been broken, the hard work done and I think there’s now a real opportunity for vintage malts. It is something that has taken a long time to get through to people and it would be a shame to consign it to history. There are definitely collectors out there hoping that Glenrothes will continue with vintages – I spent 25 years trying to convince them.

At the same time, we were the first to launch and maintain a no-age-statement offering in Select Reserve in 2004. These ‘Reserves’ (Sherry, Bourbon etc) were essentially a deconstruction of the component parts of the cask types which we had in each of our vintages.

Cox believes the main cause of vintage variation comes from the cask

More than anything it was the understanding of wood which drove us into this world of vintages, and a feeling that we had to raise the bar against the quality of whisky coming out of Japan for example, and that’s still true for the Scotch whisky industry. If we want to maintain our pre-eminent position we’ve got to look beyond maximising the yield, and try to improve every aspect of the process from the length of fermentation in the washbacks through to the final years of maturation. Quality will always win through.

From my experience with Glenrothes, it was like having two businesses in the same distillery. One was about producing enormous quantities of spirit for blending. The other (vintages) involved taking a small amount of that same spirit and nurturing it through its formative years and adolescence, until it comes out as the best it can possibly be from that particular year.

Looking back, there are clear differences between the richer, fuller vintages from the 1970s, the slightly more elegant ones from the 1980s, and those of the 1990s that have a more modern touch to them. Nevertheless, the vintage expressions remained true to the ethos of the three basic styles: ‘uplifting’, ‘conversational’ and ‘relaxing’.

Finally, there is one other style which I like to call the Ronnie Cox Red Sox ‘Sleeper’. It is the ultimate nightcap which can be used if all else fails to sedate a boring dinner party guest who has

Pernod Ricard has announced the signing of an agreement with the Glenallachie Consortium, comprising Billy Walker, Graham Stevenson and Trisha Savage, for the sale of the Scottish distillery Glenallachie.

The transaction also includes the Glenallachie single malt brand, MacNair’s and White Heather blended scotch brands, and relevant inventories to supports strategy to focus on its priority spirits and wine brands and to adjust its industrial footprint to its needs.

The closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions and is expected to take place before the end of 2017.

The Glenallachie Consortium
Billy Walker is a well known character in the scotch whisky industry, having now been involved in the industry for more than 40 years. With a degree in chemistry Walker has been involved in most aspects of the production of scotch whisky, having spent time at Ballantines, Inver House Distillers and Burn Stewart. More recently he was instrumental in establishing and building the BenRiach Distillery Company prior to its sale in 2016.

Graham Stevenson is a chartered accountant who has spent almost 30 years in the scotch whisky industry. He initially joined the North British Distillery Company in Edinburgh before moving to Inver House Distillers in 1994. He has remained there for the past 23 years, most of that time as managing director.

Trisha Savage has over 30 years’ experience in scotch. Starting at Burn Stewart she has worked with Billy throughout her career and was also instrumental in establishing and building the BenRiach Distillery Company.

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