William Grant & Sons, the Scotch whisky group best known for the Glenfiddich brand, has spread its whisky wings with the acquisition from Diageo of the Canadian rye brand Gibson's Finest.
William Grant did not say how much it had paid for the brand, which sells around 300,000 cases a year. Gibson's Finest will continue to be distilled and bottled in Quebec by Barton Inc.
Although Gibson's has a strong position in Canada, where it is the number three player in the premium whisky segment with a 17 per cent market share, it was surplus to requirements for Diageo following the acquisition of the Seagram business last year, which gave the UK giant control of the Crown Royal brand, the world's best selling premium Canadian whisky.
Glenfiddich has a major international following, but William Grant said that it was always looking for ways of expanding its brand portfolio and international coverage, and the acquisition will certainly help reduce its dependence on Scotch. In addition to Glenfiddich, William Grant also owns The Balvenie single malt and the Grant's blend Scotch brands.
"The acquisition of Gibson's Finest adds a cherished Canadian whisky brand to our award-winning portfolio of Scotch whiskies and strengthens our position in the important Canadian spirits marketplace," commented Heather Graham, business development director at William Grant & Sons.
"The purchase is testament to the commitment to expand our business both through the organic growth of our Glenfiddich, Grant's and The Balvenie brands and through the development of new business streams," she added.
The Gibson's range comprises Gibson's Finest 12-year-old, Gibson's Finest Sterling Edition and Gibson's Finest Rare 18-year-old. The range will be distributed throughout Canada by William Grant's existing distributor Peter Mielzynski Agencies.
As yet there are no plans to export the brand, but given the worldwide reach of Glenfiddich, and the likely development of the Canadian whisky market now that Diageo has a major brand in its portfolio, there may well be opportunities to push the brand outside its traditional home market.