Business News - Counterfeit Scotch Whisky?
News Briefs for August 1, 2011

•Scientists have developed a new weapon in the fight against counterfeit Scotch whisky, a persistent problem in key emerging markets like China. Professor David Littlejohn and his team at Strathclyde University in Glasgow recently successfully weeded out nine fake Scotch samples out of a pool of 17 using a hand-held infrared spectrometer. The device works by measuring alcohol content and levels of ingredients such as caramel coloring. Analysis of questionable Scotch samples is now typically performed in a lab, a costly and time-consuming process. The hand-held spectrometer, if perfected, could allow for testing on-site, says Littlejohn.

•Diageo’s global travel retail unit is rolling its Johnnie Walker Double Black variant out to more airports in its Americas region and buttressing the extension with a new “Experience the Flavor” campaign. Double Black, which retails at around 15% more than Johnnie Walker Black, is now extending to the Dallas, Miami, Dominican Republic and Mexico City airports, after being introduced last year at New York’s JFK and Los Angeles’s LAX.

•Beam Global Spirits & Wine parent Fortune Brands has completed the sale of its Acushnet golf unit to a group led by Fila Korea Ltd. and Mirae Asset Private Equity. The price was $1.225 billion in cash. “We will use the $1.1 billion in after-tax net proceeds from this transaction to strengthen Fortune Brands’ balance sheet, which will support strong capital structures for both Beam and Home & Security as independent businesses,” said Fortune chairman and CEO Bruce Carbonari. By reducing net debt by approximately 30%, Fortune Brands will lower its debt-to-EBITDA ratio from 3.8 to 3.0 as a result of the sale. Fortune is on track to become a pure-play spirits business under the name Beam Inc. by early in the fourth quarter. It’s in the process of spinning off its home and security business to shareholders.

•Diageo has ended a 17-year relationship with its Indian partner, the Kilachand family. Kilachand-owned Sun Tan Trading Company will no longer distribute Diageo products in India—Diageo has decided to handle distribution of its Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff labels on its own. The Kilachand family helped Diageo enter the Indian market in 1994 and held a 40% stake in the company’s local branch, then called International Distillers India (IDI). The family exited IDI years ago but remained as the primary distributor for the company in India until now.

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