The richest spirits barons in the UKBy Amy Hopkins
The family behind Glenfiddich maker William Grant & Sons remains the wealthiest in the UK spirits industry, according to The Sunday Times Rich List 2018.
This weekend, The Sunday Times revealed its 30th Rich List, which demonstrated the growing prevalence of self-made millionaires and billionaires among the ranks of the country’s wealthiest individuals.
The founder of chemicals producer Ineos, Jim Ratcliffe, was revealed to be the richest person in the UK, with a fortune of £21 billion.
In the spirits world, the list revealed some familiar names, along with a couple of newcomers.
Click through the following pages for more information on the wealthiest families and individuals in the UK spirits industry.
9. Leonard Russell and family
Rank in The Sunday Times Rich List 2018: 900
Rank in 2017: 896
Leonard Russell is the managing director of independent spirits group Ian Macleod Distillers, maker of the Glengoyne, Tamdhu and Smokehead Scotch brands. It is the world’s 10th largest Scotch whisky company, producing and selling more than 15m bottles annually.
In October last year, the group announced plans to restart production at Lowland distillery Rosebank after purchasing the site from Scottish Canals. The following month, Ian Macleod secured an £80m refinancing package to support the revival of the distillery.
8. Joe Sloan and Brenda Salters and family
Rank in The Sunday Times Rich List 2018: 828
Rank in 2017: 840
SHS founder Joe Sloan and his family are the eighth richest in the UK spirits industry. Belfast-based drinks marketing and distribution firm SHS was founded in 1975 by Sloan and his late business partner Geoff Salters, and is known for producing the WKD brand.
Salters’ widow, Brenda Salters, owns and 50% stake the business and jointly occupies the Rich List’s 828th spot. According to The Sunday Times, SHS made a £5 profit in its first year of operation.
7. Tim Warrillow
Rank in The Sunday Times Rich List 2018: 706
Rank in 2017: New
Fever-Tree has become and integral part of the international spirits scene and has witnessed tremendous growth in recent years, securing a dominant position in the premium mixer market.
The brand’s co-founder Tim Warrillow (pictured left) is a newcomer to The Sunday Times Rich List with a net worth of £167m. Warrillow met with fellow Fever-Tree co-founder Charles Rolls after setting up the Business Development Consultancy, which identified opportunities in the premium food and drink sector. The pair launched Fever-Tree in 2004.
In July last year, Warrillow, who is the CEO of Fever-Tree, sold 1.5m shares in the business, but retains a 5.37% shareholding. Look out for Warrillow’s partner, Charles Rolls, later on in this list.
6. Aaron and Tania Hillman and family
Rank in The Sunday Times Rich List 2018: 672
Rank in 2017: 640
The brother and sister team behind independent Scotch whisky business Angus Dundee Distillers are long-term fixtures on the Rich List. The siblings own 20% of the company, which was founded by their father, Terry Hillman.
Angus Dundee owns the Tomintoul and Glencadam distilleries, operates a bottling plant in Coatbridge near Glasgow and supplies liquid for local bottling. The company has released a number of new expression in recent months – including the “first very mature blended grain” whisky.
5. Martin Dickie
Rank in The Sunday Times Rich List 2018: 524
Rank in 2017: New
BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie is a newcomer to The Sunday Times Rich List. While BrewDog is predominantly known for its craft beer empire, the brewer moved into spirits in 2016 with the opening of its Lone Wolf Distillery.
The distillery is said to produce “pure bloodline” spirits by keeping all processes – including the distillation of NGS – within its Ellon site. Dickie and his business partner Watt (mentioned overleaf) expressed an ambition to “redefine an entire industry and establish a new standard for spirits production”.
4. James Watt
Rank in The Sunday Times Rich List 2018: 461
Rank in 2017: New
James Watt, along with Dickie, has steered BrewDog to become a global phenomenon. In April last year, TSG Consumer Partners bought a 23% stake in the company for £213m, valuing BrewDog at £1bn. The transaction was “designed to deliver long-term capital with a 10-year time horizon”.
It will be interesting to see if Lone Wolf has the same potential in the spirits world.
3. Charles Rolls
Rank in The Sunday Times Rich List 2018: 372
Rank in 2017: 549
Fever-Tree co-founder Charles Rolls (pictured left, with Tim Warrillow) rocketed up the Rich List in 2018, reflecting the phenomenal success of his business.
Earlier this year, Rolls sold a 2.6% stake in the tonic and mixer brand worth £82.5m. In 2017, Fever-Tree’s revenue grew 66% to £170.2m, with “continued strong growth” across all regions, channels, flavours and formats. The brand is now setting its sights on the dark spirits market.
Towards the end of 2017, Fever-Tree announced its intention to open its first international office in North America, marking a “significant opportunity” for the business.
2. Vivian Imerman
Rank in The Sunday Times Rich List 2018: 329
Rank in 2017: 307
Born in South Africa, Vivian Imerman netted £396m from the sale of Scotch whisky business Whyte & Mackay to India’s United Spirits in 2007. United Spirits later sold the unit to Philippines-based Emperador.
Now, Imerman runs investment firm Vasari, which owns a stake in restaurant chain Leon.
1. Glenn Gordon and family
Rank in The Sunday Times Rich List 2018: 55
Rank in 2017: 50
Glenn Gordon is the chairman of William Grant & Sons, the famed Scottish distiller of Glenfiddich, Grant’s and a number of other spirits. Gordon and the other family stakeholders in William Grant & Sons are leaps ahead of other spirits barons in terms of wealth.
The family’s net worth increased by £202m to £2.57bn, according to Rich List figures. In 2016, William Grant’s profit increased to £221m, while reported turnover hit £1.06bn. Last year, the group invested €25m in its Tullamore Dew distillery to increase production.
William Grant also produces the Balvenie, Hendrick’s, Sailor Jerry and Drambuie brands, among others.