Whyte and Mackay opts for H&K and Brunswick

Brunswick and Hill & Knowlton have been hired to work on either side of the £595m sale of Scottish liquor maker Whyte & Mackay.

The 162-year-old company is being sold to Indian company UB group, headed by billionaire Vijay Mallya.

Brunswick was called in last week by the Scottish distiller, while the UB Group appointed Hill & Knowlton. UB’s purchase of W&M has been mooted in City circles for some time, but City agency representatives were only drafted in during the latter stages of the deal.

Brunswick partner Simon Sporborg heads the Whyte & Mackay account; his opposite number at H&K is head of corporate affairs Tim Fallon.

Whyte & Mackay owns a range of heritage whisky brands, including The Dalmore, Isle of Jura, and Fettercairn, South African tycoon Vivian Imerman bought Whyte & Mackay in 2005 and turned around the business.

The deal will help expand the market for Whyte and Mackay brands in India and emerging markets, the UB Group said in a statement.

India is one of the largest markets for whisky, but Scotch (only produced in Scotland) has a mere one per cent market share  because of tariffs imposed by India’s federal and state governments on imported liquor.

Neither agency was able to prevent stories suggesting the 150 per cent tariff would be prohibitive, but UB does have an upcoming international meeting in Brussels, which is aimed at reigniting the Doha trade talks on liberalising trade between countries.

Under current European legislation Scotch whisky can only be produced in Scotland, so the distilleries are unlikely to be relocated.

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