A scotch whisky distiller, when asked recently if he made any blends, was gloriously sniffy and dismissive of blended whisky. It would have been interesting to see and hear what he would have made of the Johnnie Walker Directors Blends, which I got to taste last Thursday (November 28) in London.
At £1.05bn, up 9% on the previous year, the global distiller and major spirits brands owner, delivered a group operating profit of £126.3 million for 2011, down from £132.4 million in 2010.
Glenfiddich, the world’s number one single malt Scotch whisky topped one million cases and Grant’s grew to more than five million cases with both brands recording value growth ahead of volume growth in 2011.
Across the company’s core brands, which also include Hendrick’s Gin, The Balvenie single malt whisky, Sailor Jerry rum and Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, acquired in 2010, increased investment helped to deliver value growth ahead of volume.
Grant also continued to invest behind its innovation brands, including Hudson Baby bourbon, Monkey Shoulder and Reyka vodka and the company also acquired 100% ownership of its premium tequila brand Milagro, which is said to be performing well in its core markets of the US and Mexico.
In 2011, Wm Grant established a marketing office for the Nordics, based in Stockholm, a new distribution hub inSingaporeand saw the first full year of trading at its recently established distribution companies inColombiaandAustralia.
Underlining the company’s focus on building a premium portfolio of spirits brands, Robert Polet, a former CEO of the Gucci Group, joined the company’s board as a non-executive director.
William Grant chief executive Stella David said: “Whilst 2011 saw some tough global economic conditions, the company performed well thanks to the continued success of our premium spirits brands and our consistent focus on building brand equity, improving our route to market and investing for the long-term.”