Distell has retained its exclusive licensing rights to Gordon's Gin in Southern Africa following a Pretoria High Court ruling against Diageo subsidiary Guinness-UDV.

Diageo gave notice in 2001 that it wanted to terminate the 27-year agreement it had entered into with the old Distillers Corporation.

With annual sales of more than 5 000 litres a year, it is South Africa's leading gin brand and one of the top white spirit brands.

In terms of the contract, Distell was required to maintain a minimum sales target, which the group had exceeded each year.

The restructuring of the Diageo Group was Guinness-UDV's main argument for wanting to return the brand back to its own fold.

Distell welcomed the latest judgement, hard on the heels of the successful conclusion of its merger.

"The removal of these obstacles allows us to proceed unhindered with our plans to become South Africa's leading marketer and exporter of world-class brands," said corporate affairs director, André Steyn.

Distell has a portfolio of more than 300 wine, cider and spirit products.