William Grant & Sons
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William Grant & Sons Ltd. is an independent, family-owned Scottish company that distills Scotch whisky and other selected categories of spirits. It was established in 1887 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.
In July 2014 it was reported that Grant's donated "in the region of £100,000" to the unionist 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.
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 owned by William Grant & Sons:
- Glenfiddich Distillery (b. 1887)
- Balvenie Distillery (b. 1892)
- Girvan Grain Distillery (b. 1964)
- Kininvie Distillery (1990-2010)
- Ailsa Bay Distillery (b. 2007)
- Tullamore Distillery (Ireland) (b. 2014)
- Convalmore is a former whisky distillery in Dufftown, closing operations in 1985. William Grant & Sons bought the distillery in 1990, for the warehouses, to increase warehousing capacity for Glenfiddich. The Convalmore distillery produced whisky for other brands. The name Convalmore however is used for selected whiskies, although the distillery never produced a whisky under their own name. The brandname is owned by Diageo.
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 nine 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, who 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 four brands from C&C Group, including Tullamore Dew, for €300m. In September 2010 they sold the three minor brands (Irish Mist, Carolans, Frangelico) to Gruppo Campari for 129m euro, so in effect Grants paid €171m for the Tullamore Dew brand and its production facilities.
The current chairman of William Grant & Sons is Glenn Gordon (since 2012). The Gordons are direct descendants of William Grant.
Many distilleries owned by William Grant & Sons are located in Dufftown, making William Grant & Sons the largest employer in the town.
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). This is more than the sales of the next two single malts combined. 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.
William Grant & Sons brands include:
- Scotch whisky: Glenfiddich, Grant's, The Balvenie, Kininvie, Monkey Shoulder, Aerstone, Clan MacGregor, House of Hazelwood, The Gordon Highlanders
- Irish whiskey: Tullamore Dew
- Gin: Hendrick's
- Vodka: Reyka
- Rum: Sailor Jerry, Old Vatted Demerara, Woods Old Navy, Vat 19
- Canadian whisky: Gibson’s Finest
- Mixed drinks: Taboo
- Mezcal: Montelobos
- Tequila: Milagro
- Liqueur: Drambuie, Solerno, Ancho Reyes, Ancho Verde
- Brandy: Three Barrels, The Raynal
- Other: Art In the Age Craft Spirits
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)
Highland Distillers brands
Typical products owned by Highland Distillers at that time:
- The Famous Grouse, brandname now owned by Edrington
- The Macallan, brandname now owned by Edrington
- Highland Park, brandname now owned by Edrington
- Black Bottle, this brand was sold subsequently to Burn Stewart Distillers in 2004
- Gloag's London Dry Gin, brandname owned by Edrington
- Virgin Vodka (Grant's co-developed this brand with Richard Bransons Virgin Group.) The brand is now defunct.
- "Welcome". William Grant & Sons. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
- "Scotland's richest billionaires revealed". BBC News. 2018-05-12. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
- "Top 15 Scotch whisky companies | WhiskyInvestDirect". www.whiskyinvestdirect.com. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
- Schrieberg, Felipe. "The 4 Companies Behind 3/4 Of All Scotch Whisky Production". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
- "Scottish independence: Distiller William Grant and Sons donates to Better Together". BBC News. BBC. 6 July 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- William Garnt and Sons in the Whiskypedia on scotchwhisky.com