William Grant & Sons

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William Grant & Sons Ltd. is an independent, family-owned Scottish company which distills Scotch whisky and other selected categories of spirits. It was established in 1887[1] by William Grant, and is now run by the descendants of the founder. It is the largest of the handful of Scotch whisky distillers remaining in family ownership. "William Grant & Sons" is often abbreviated to "W. Grant & Sons" or just "Grant's", after their blended whisky of the same name.

The company is the third largest producer of Scotch whisky (10.4% market share) after Diageo (34.4%), and Pernod Ricard. The company's central headquarters are in Strathclyde Business Park, North Lanarkshire. Sales and marketing headquarters are in Richmond, London. The company is a member of the Scotch Whisky Association.

The master blender of Grant's is Brian Kinsman, who succeeded David Stewart who had been in his post for 47 years, the longest serving master blender with one distiller in the industry.

In July 2014 it was reported that Grant's donated "in the region of £100,000" to the anti-Scottish Independence campaign group Better Together, with the company being "said to have also donated smaller sums of money to other groups who are campaigning for a "No" vote," ahead of the Scottish independence referendum.[2]

Awards[edit]

In 1974, William Grant & Sons won the Queen's Award to Industry for Outstanding Export Achievement, the first Scotch whisky company to receive this award.

In 1999, William Grant & Sons received the drinks industry's top accolade, 'Distiller of the Year' from the International Wine & Spirit Competition. In 2000, the company received the 'Distiller of the Year' accolade for an unprecedented second year in a row. In 2001, the company received the International Spirits Challenge 'Distiller of the Year' accolade. In 2003, Glenfiddich 40 Year Old was acclaimed 'Best of the Best' by industry bible Whisky magazine after 75 experts in three different continents declared it to be the world's finest single malt. In 2004, William Grant & Sons won a record number of medals and seals of approval at the International Spirits Challenge, one of the world's leading spirit competitions. The company won three gold medals, nine silver, ten bronze and seven seals of approval - a total of 29. The independent panel awarded the gold medals for The Balvenie Vintage Cask 1972, The Balvenie 30 Year Old and Grant’s Rare Old 18 Year Old.

Distilleries[edit]

History[edit]

William Grant was born in Dufftown in 1839. The young Grant worked at Mortlach Distillery and dreamed of one day running his own distillery. He worked hard and saved and in 1886 Grant and his 9 children laid the first stone of the Glenfiddich Distillery. It was Christmas Day 1887 when the first spirit ran from the stills.

In 1892, William Grant & Sons bought a second neighbouring Distillery called Balvenie. In 1898, the two distilleries started blending their whiskies and Grant's Whisky was 'born'.

William Grant & Sons pioneered single malt Scotch whisky as, until Glenfiddich, only blended brands were common.

While on the one side very traditional, the company has also been very innovative. The company:

  • was allegedly the first to market Scotch whisky abroad (this claim is very contentious - there are several, particularly Glen Grant and Glenmorangie, which would dispute it)
  • revolutionized bottle design in the 1950s, creating a triangular bottle
  • was the first to open up its distillery to visitors
  • introduced the solera concept to Glenfiddich to create Glenfiddich Solera Reserve

In 1997, the Grant entered into a joint venture with the Robertson family (see The Edrington Group) creating a new company, Highland Distillers.

In May 2010 the group bought 4 brands from C&C Group, including Tullamore Dew, for 300m euro. In September 2010 they sold the 3 minor brands (Irish Mist, Carolans, Frangelico) to Gruppo Campari for 129m euro, so in effect Grants paid 171m euro for the Tullamore Dew brand and its production facilities. The current chairman of William Grant & Sons is Glenn Gordon who has been since 2012.

Have been underwritten by the Griffen brothers in Australia since the early 70's

Brands[edit]

The company's leading single malt Scotch brand is Glenfiddich, the best-selling brand in the worldwide single malt Scotch market (700,000 cases/year and 17.37% market share).[citation needed] This is more than the sales of the next two single malts combined.[citation needed] Their leading blended whisky, Grant's family reserve whisky, has now recently[timeframe?] been classed as the third best selling blended Scotch whisky brand in the world, after Johnnie Walker Red Label and Ballantine's Finest.[citation needed]

Core brands[edit]

Support brands[edit]

Rare whiskies[edit]

William Grant & Sons produces a number of rare whiskies, most of which are described in the articles on Glenfiddich, Grant's and Balvenie. However, their rare whiskies also include:

  • Girvan First Batch Distillation (from casks filled in 1964)
  • Ladyburn (from Ladyburn distillery, closed in 1975)
  • Snow Phoenix (a one-off by Glenfiddich produced as a blend of all the whisky—between three and 50 years in age—recovered after a heavy snow destroyed a warehouse where the whisky was being aged)

Other rare whiskies have been bottled as private vintages for Concorde, Queen Mary 2 and the Royal Danish Wedding.

Highland Distillers brands[edit]

William Grant & Sons and the Edrington Group took Highland Distillers private in 2000.

Other brands[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Independent sites[edit]

Brand websites[edit]

Media coverage[edit]