Whisky Advocate

Whyte & Mackay is for sale (again)

March 8th, 2009

So is Burn Stewart.

I don’t normally blog about the business of whisky, but when you have beloved distilleries (and the people who work for them) being bought and sold like pawns in a chess match, it’s impact is far reaching. Every time these distilleries change hands, new importers are usually involved and it causes a (often long) hiccup in the importation of the brands. For example, where is The Dalmore in the U.S.?

The Sunday Times has the story here. The Whyte & Mackay sale impacts The Dalmore and Isle of Jura, among others. The Burn Stewart sale involves Tobermory (and Ledaig), Bunnahabhain and Deanston, along with other brands.

Whisky boom?

20 Responses to “Whyte & Mackay is for sale (again)”

  1. Red_Arremer says:

    Looks like that super premium Dalmore relaunch didn’t provide the awesome returns it promised.

    “Where is The Dalmore in the US?” is a good question, John. My question is if, as the article predicts, W&M are purchased by a company that doesn’t “want it for the brands,” will this lapse in the availability The Dalmore’s become permanent?

  2. butephoto says:

    Interesting news indeed. I think there are going to be a lot of companies and distilleries changing hands in the hard times ahead.

  3. B.J. Reed says:

    You worry about distilleries like Dalmore and Bunnabhain being tossed and turned – While we have stories about the rebirth of a “Rosebank” like distillery on the one hand you wonder about other distilleries left to languish – That was the great excitement about Burn-Stewart purchasing Bunnabhain because it would get renewed focus and energy – Now, you just don’t know.

  4. I’m not too happy about this new W&M sale – if it’s only because I bought Peterson’s book, which is now officially outdated. Somehow it has become ridiculous to take distillery ownership history seriously. You can only hope that the economic crises we’re experiencing brings back some more “traditional” investors, who care about the whisky business more and perhaps a “wee bit” less about profit profit profit.

    It just doesn’t compare to

  5. Todd says:

    The Whisky Boom is starting to sound like a 2007 story when credit was still cheap and widely available. It’s unlikely that the brand building efforts were in place long enough to impact these ownership turnovers. I hope this turns out OK for the distilleries – I’d miss Dalmore a whole lot more than the loss of Citibank and Bank of America.

  6. Dear John and fellow Malt Advocate bloggers,

    Our parent company always intended to de-leverage our business (reduce the debt) and there are many ways in which this can be done, one of which is to talk to potential investors. United Spirits may be ready to sell a minority stake in Whyte & Mackay, but we are not aware of any live discussions at this point.

    As far as we are concerned, it remains very much business as usual here at Whyte & Mackay. It is imperative to also note that even if a sale was to take place, the majority control would remain with the parent company and we would continue to be a subsidiary of that company with management control remaining with United Spirits. Therefore, again it will be business as usual.

    As far as The Dalmore is concerned, the newly re-packaged and reformulated expressions just recently arrived in the states. Look for them at retail within the next few weeks. You’re sure to agree – they are worth the wait!

  7. John Hansell says:

    This is refreshing news! Thank you for letting us know. We are starved for Dalmore so it will be nice to see the expressions on the retailer’s shelves here in the U.S.

  8. John, you are right, the velvety smooth taste is truly something Americans should appreciate! I have been told so by my closest friends!

    (No, I’m not affiliated with W&M in any way…! I just really like the Jura 10yo, and I think the Dalmore is a unique whisky too.)

    Managers: Please keep traditions alive, so we can keep the faith, too.

  9. Maria says:

    Great news! We have been missing the great Dalomore in ABC in Florida. Me and my husband are both great fans of the Dalmore malts. I hope that the USA new version has the same looks and product as the one we tried in UK during our recent visit!


  10. B.J. Reed says:

    So, does that mean the story was incorrect? If so I assume that Whyte and MacKay will be asking for a retraction?

  11. John Hansell says:

    Yes, BJ, there seems to be some ambiguity here.

  12. Maria says:

    Hi John –

    I want to find a nice gift for my husband. He is the true fan of the Dalmore malts and i want to know what is the difference between the Dalmore 15 YO and the Dalmore Gran Reserva? What is the age on the Dalmore Gran Resirva? Any other significant differences between the two products? Do you think any of the two are a better gift?

    Thanks for your input on this.



    • John Hansell says:

      Maria, these are just now about to come into the U.S. and, for this reason, I have not tried them yet. I know that some of my readers overseas have, so maybe they can chime in here.

  13. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    hello John, hello Maria,

    the Dalmore 15 is a new expression which I have not tasted yet.

    For an overview of Dalmore tasting notes please look here, the 15 is among them.

    The Dalmore Gran Reserva is the former Cigar Malt. With all that non smoker protection going on in the EC and the US I take it the name was no longer politically correct I suppose. You will find the Gran Reserva among the malts when you follow the link above.

    It has no age statement and Gran Reserva quite different from wine does not mean anything in a whisky.

    • John Hansell says:

      Thanks kallaskander for the info. This is one of those whisky lines that was introduced on the other side of the pond a gazillion years ago and is only now (hopefully) getting into circulation here in the US.

  14. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    the link I meant to send you is hidden here.

    “This is one of only 1000 bottles. Thanks to David Robertson, Richard Paterson and Margaret Nicol for sending along the drops and supporting information for this and all drams this week. For all Dalmores had on the mission click HERE.” !!!

  15. Art Glick says:

    I’ve become a big fan of the Dalmore 12 Y.O., and I truly hope that it hasn’t been too much “re-expressed” with the new line. You shouldn’t mess with such a marvelous flavor! After my local store ran out, I ordered a dozen bottles from a distributor (who is now also out of stock) in Florida last October and just opened the last bottle earlier this week. I hope it doesn’t take the new range too long to reach our outlets!!!

  16. JC Jones says:

    Where in Atlanta, Georgia area can you find Whyte MacKay Scotch

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