Beam Suntory plans to establish its own commercial business in the UK after the end of its long-running distribution link with Edrington, which was announced today (22 March).

The tie-up between the companies, which has taken various forms over the last two decades, will come to an end in February next year.

Beam Suntory will manage its sales and distribution in the UK through a commercial unit led by its UK & Ireland MD Nick Temperley.

Edrington, home to The Famous Grouse whisky, said it plans to focus on its portfolio in the UK following the end of the deal.

The two companies started working together in 1999 under the then Maxxium vehicle, which was set up along with Rémy Cointreau. Two years later, then Absolut owner Vin & Sprit joined.

Rémy Cointreau quit the partnership in 2009 while Sweden’s Vin & Sprit left shortly after its 2008 takeover by Pernod Ricard.

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In 2018, the remaining duo renamed Maxxium UK as Edrington-Beam Suntory UK. Three years later, Edrington took over Edrington-Beam Suntory UK, with Beam Suntory running Maxxium Spain, a move that included another name change to Edrington UK.

“We see significant potential in the UK. It is a very large and sophisticated spirits market and home to many of the world’s best retailers, bars and restaurants. We look forward to partnering with them from February next year,” Temperley said.

Edrington UK MD Mark Riley added: “I am excited at the opportunity to shape our UK business focused exclusively on opportunities for Edrington’s ultra-premium and leading spirits. The Edrington UK team has delivered strong results for Beam Suntory’s portfolio and we are proud to represent these excellent brands in the UK until next February.”

Both parties’ last jointly owned distribution venture was in Russia – Maxxium Russia – which was sold to the local team in Russia in 2021 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Aristotelis Baroutsis, the regional MD of Edrington’s business in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, said: “Edrington’s strategy of focusing on ultra-premium spirits in world cities has strengthened our brands and our performance. The UK is our home market, and this is the right moment for us to deepen our focus on the potential for ultra-premium spirits and in particular, for our leading brand, The Macallan.”