Guinness sells off American brands

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GUINNESS, the drinks giant, has continued restructuring its spirits division with the sale of 70 brands in North America.

The exact price was not disclosed but it is thought that Heaven Hill Distilleries, a family- owned company based in Kentucky, paid between pounds 20m and pounds 30m.

The brands sold include JW Dant bourbon, Boord's vodka and gin and Canadian Springs whiskey.

The brands were inherited when United Distillers, the spirits division of Guinness, bought Glenmore in 1991.

A spokesman for Guinness said the sales were a tidying-up operation. Guinness wants to concentrate its marketing efforts on promoting its leading labels, which include Dewar's and Johnnie Walker whisky, Gordon's gin and Tanqueray gin and vodka.

The brands that have been sold are made on a small scale and have regional followings.

The sale follows Guinness's decision to cut 700 jobs in its Scottish whisky manufacturing operation. It said the move was necessary because production was outstripping expected demand.

Guinness's shares rose 7p to close at 460p.

Guinness's rival, Invergordon Distillers, has bought the remaining whisky and gin brands it left behind when it acquired Findlater Scotch Whisky two years ago from Findlater Mackie Todd.