Brown-Forman has won the rights to the US distribution of Appleton Rums after the parent company Wray & Nephew, the Jamaican drinks producer, and Guinness UDV ended their partnership yesterday.

Brown-Forman said its Select Brands Company would act as distributor for Appleton Special Gold, Appleton Estate VX, Appleton Estate Extra, Appleton 21 Year Old and Coruba and Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum. The brands currently sell about 100,000 cases a year in the US.

Guinness UDV said that it was pulling out of the agreement because it would be "focussing its strategic business attention on other rum brands in coordination with our global priority brand strategy."

UDV is currently in a legal battle with Allied Domecq for the ownership of Captain Morgan rum following its joint acquisition with Pernod Ricard of Seagram's wines and spirits in late 2000.

COO of Brown-Forman Select Brands Joe Flock said: "Brown-Forman Select Brands Company has a proven track record of growing brands. We're confident we can significantly increase sales and profits of Appleton Rums in the US."

Larry Watson, chief executive officer of the export division of J Wray & Nephew said: "Americans naturally associate Jamaica with rum and good times, and we believe Brown-Forman can boost sales of Appleton Rums well beyond the 100,000 case level."