In 1851, Arthur Bell (1825–1900) began to blend various single malts together to create a more consistent blended whisky. Arthur Bell was the first known whisky manufacturer to appoint a London agent, by at least 1863. Bell's two sons joined the business in partnership in 1895. Arthur Kinmond (1868–1942) was appointed to manage the domestic market and Robert was appointed as head of the brand overseas. By the 1880s the company was focused on blended whisky. Arthur Bell died in 1900. In 1921 the partnership became a private company run by Arthur Kinmond after Robert retired to live as a country gentleman. The end of Prohibition in America created a surge in demand, which led Arthur Bell & Sons to acquire two distilleries in 1933: Blair Athol and Dufftown. In 1936 the Inchgower distillery was also acquired.
The Bell brothers died in 1942 and the company accountant, William Govan Farquharson, became chairman of the company. He focused on advertising the brand more heavily. Bell's became a public company in 1949. In 1954, Arthur Bell exported to 130 different countries.
By 1970, Bell's was the highest selling whisky in Scotland. In the early 1970s, Bell's could not afford the advertising budget of the larger whisky distillers. Instead, it focused on the user of mixers with its product. This increased the product's popularity with women, and Bell's revenues rose by 800 percent between 1970 and 1979. In 1978 Bell's became the UK's highest selling whisky. Much of the credit for this expansion is given to the then managing director Raymond Miquel. By 1980 the company had around 35 percent market share in the UK.
Bell's is bottled at Diageo's Shieldhall plant.
The brand's top markets are the UK, South Africa, the Nordic countries, Spain and Brazil.
In popular culture
- Nielsen, GB Off Trade Value Sales MAT TO WE 14/05/2011, CGA On Trade Value Sales MAT TO 16/04/2011
- Gavin D. Smith; Dominic Roskrow; Davin De Kergommeaux (2012). Whisky Opus. Dorling Kindersley. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-4053-9474-1. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
- Bells – About Whisky – Blends – www.scotchwhisky.com
- Bell's – History
- Ronald B. Weir, ‘Bell, Arthur (1825–1900)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011 accessed 8 Jan 2014
- Bell's Whisky
- James, Barrie G. (1985). Business Wargames. Taylor & Francis. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-85626-441-2.
- Philip Hills (21 December 2012). Scots On Scotch: The Book of Whisky. Mainstream Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-78057-788-3.
- David Parker (19 June 2013). The Official History of Privatisation, Vol. II: Popular Capitalism, 1987–97. Routledge. p. 438. ISBN 978-1-136-33123-7.
- Bell's – Discovery
- Bells Whisky – one of Scotlands big brands
- Bell's Whisky