June 12, 2013 – Edrington Group will end its U.S. distribution agreement with Rémy Cointreau at the end of March, 2014. The two companies have worked together since 1985, when Rémy’s US unit started handling distribution for Edrington’s Scotch whisky brands. Rémy executives announced the decision in Paris Tuesday during a presentation to analysts on the company’s annual results.
The current deal covers The Macallan and Highland Park single malt Scotch whiskies, The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark blended Scotches, and Brugal Rum, and will not be renewed when the current contract expires on March 31, 2014. Edrington executives have not indicated their future plans for the US market, but there is strong speculation that the company will set up its own distribution unit for the world’s largest Scotch whisky market (by volume). The company already has an office and small marketing staff in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, and Just-Drinks.com cites an unidentified Rémy spokesperson as saying Edrington plans to handle its US distribution in-house.
The move was not unexpected following Rémy’s own entry into the Scotch whisky market with the acquisition of Bruichladdich last year. While Edrington officials never made any public statements criticizing the deal, it is expected that Rémy will eventually take over US distribution for Bruichladdich, and continuing the agreement would have put control of Edrington’s key brands in the hands of a direct competitor.