United Spirits Limited

Year established: 1826
Year closed:
Owner: UB Group(http://theubgroup.com/), DIAGEO
Web page: http://unitedspirits.in/
Mail address: moc.liambu|sutcatnoc#moc.liambu|sutcatnoc
Type of still:
Production capacity:
United Spirits Limited, abbreviated to USL, is an Indian alcoholic beverages company, and the world's largest spirits company in terms of volume. It is a subsidiary of the United Breweries Group, and headquartered at UB Tower in Bangalore, Karnataka. USL exports its products to over 37 countries.

United Spirits represents the merged entities of the erstwhile McDowell & Co. Limited, Phipson Distillery Limited, United Spirits Limited, Herbertsons Limited, Triumph Distillers and Vintners Private Limited, Baramati Grape Industries Limited, United Distillers India Limited, McDowell International Brands Limited and Shaw Wallace Distilleries Limited. The erstwhile McDowell & Co. Limited was first established as a proprietary business in 1826.

United Spirits Ltd traces its origins to McDowell and Company (also known as McDowell & Co, McDowell or McDowell's), established as a trading firm in 1826, by Angus McDowell. He set up a warehouse near Fort St. George, Madras (now Chennai), which was a major trading centre of the British Empire. McDowell became the preferred purveyor of imported liquors and cigars for Indian Maharajas and British commandants. McDowell's business revolved around importing consumer items including wines, spirits, cigars and tea to cater to the English population in India. McDowell & Company Limited was incorporated as a company in 1898.

The Vittal Mallya-run United Breweries Group acquired McDowell and Company in 1951. In 1959, Mallya established the company's first distillery at Cherthala, Kerala on the banks of the Vembanad lake. McDowell's began bottling Bisquit Brandy and Dorville French Brandy, from imported concentrates, becoming the first company to manufacture Indian substitutes of foreign liquor, giving rise to the term Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL). The company commissioned India's first ever distillation plant to produce extra neutral alcohol (ENA), with French collaboration, at Cherthala in 1961. The plant began bottling Beehive French Brandy for Herbertsons Limited of the Anglo Thai Group, the same year. The distillery Cherthala launched Golden Grape Brandy, its first product, created in-house, in 1962. The distillery also began processing grapes from Kodaikanal's vineyards, to manufacture brandies, while also bottling imported Cinzano Vermouth Red, Dry and Bianco. McDowell's launched its own McDowell's No.1 Brandy in 1963–64, following the termination of the import contract for No.1 Bisquit Brandy. The brand created the template for the many "No. 1" brands that the company would launch later. Mallya acquired Carew & Co with distilleries in Rosa (Uttar Pradesh), Asansol (West Bengal) and Darsana (then East Bengal, now Bangladesh) in 1963-64. The Rosa plant was known for manufacturing India's only 10-year-old rum, Carew's Rum. Carew's other popular brands included Blue Riband Gin, Booth's Gin, Carew's Dry Gin, Carew's Imperial Whisky, Carew's Fine Brandy and Doctor's Brandy. Mallya also acquired Phipson & Co., Calcutta during the same period, giving McDowell a national presence in the spirits business.

The company launched McDowell's No.1 whisky in 1968, which went on to become USL's flagship brand. McDowell's commissioned new distilleries in Hyderabad in 1968, Ponda (Goa) in 1971 and in Hathidah (Bihar) in 1973. Mallya acquired Herbertsons Limited in 1973. His son, Vijay Mallya, was inducted as Director in McDowell & Co., the same year. Herbertsons launched Bagpiper whisky the following year. Between 1977 and 1980, Vittal Mallya acquired distilleries in Udaipur, Alwar, Mirganj, Serampore, and also set up a plant in Pondicherry. Vittal Mallya died in 1983, and his son Vijay Mallya took over as Chairman of the UB Group and McDowell's in October that year. McDowell's shifted its headquarters from Madras to Bangalore, Karnataka in 1987. The company established a technical centre for product and process development research in Bangalore in 1989. McDowell's No.1 Rum was launched in Celebration (Dark) and Caribbean (White) variants in 1990. McDowell's acquired the spirits business and brand portfolio of Forbes Campbell & Company Limited, along with its manufacturing facility at Nashik. McDowell's formed United Distillers India Limited, India's first joint venture in the alcoholic beverages industry, with United Distillers p.l.c of the United Kingdom in 1991-92, and began bottling Black Dog 12 YO Deluxe Scotch, Black and White, VAT 69 and White Horse at the company's Nashik unit. McDowell's Signature whisky was launched in 1994. In 1995, Carew Phipson Limited, Consolidated Distilleries Ltd and a few other companies were merged into McDowell's. The company was incorporated in as McDowell Sprits Ltd in 1999. The name was changed to McDowell & Company Ltd on 1 April 2000. McDowell Alcobev became a wholly owned subsidiary of McDowell & Company in 2002. The company also formed alliances with American, Australian and French companies for bulk wine import. In the same year, Phipson Distilley and McDowell International Brands Ltd became wholly owned subsidiaries, and the company acquired an 85% equity stake in Truimph Distilleries & Vinters Pvt Ltd, which subsequently became a subsidiary company. McDowell & Company acquired the Indian and Middle East businesses of Gilbeys from UDV through Triumph Distillers & Vintners in December 2002. McDowell launched Derby Special Whisky in the Andhra Pradesh market in 2003. Old Cask rum was launched in the Karnataka market in 2004.

On 21 March 2005, McDowell & Company signed a deal with Jumbo World Holdings Limited (JWHL) in Dubai to acquire Shaw Wallace. The nearly INR13 billion (US$210 million) deal the UB Group up to 54.54% stake in Shaw Wallace. The board of Shaw Wallace approved the merger of the company with USL and fixed the appointed date of the merger as 1 April 2008 subject to approvals. USL retained Shaw Wallace's frontline whiskies such as Royal Challenge, Director's Special, Antiquity, Haywards and the white spirits brand, White Mischief. In 2006, McDowell & Co Limited, Herbertsons Limited, Triumph Distillers and Vintners Private Limited, Baramati Grape Industries India Limited, Shaw Wallace Distilleries Limited and four other companies are merged to form United Spirits Limited. Bouvet Ladubay, subsidiary of France-based Taittinger was acquired, the same year. The UB Group purchased Whyte & Mackay in May 2007 for £595 million in cash. Following the takeover Whyte & Mackay, along with its other brands, were introduced in India, Dubai, Taiwan and New York. USL also acquired Liquidity Inc., makers of Pinky vodka, in 2007. USL launched Black Dog 18 YO and Four Seasons Barrique Reserve in 2009-10, and McDowell's No 1 Platinum, 100% grain based whisky, in 2011.

USL acquired Balaji Distilleries Limited in 2008. This acquisition gave the company the strategic advantage to consolidate the Group’s leadership position in a critical, large and growing State like Tamil Nadu. Currently, the procedural formalities are under way for the acquisition which will take retrospective effect from April 1, 2009.

United Spirits acquired Andhra Pradesh (AP)–based, Tern Distilleries, in 2009, in a bid to augment its primary distillation capacity. This is the company's third manufacturing unit in the region given that one fifth of USL's sales volumes come from AP.

On 27 May 2013, Diageo acquired a 10% stake in United Spirits at a cost of INR20927196000 (US$340 million), through a preferential allotment of new shares in USL. It also acquired 0.44% (58,668 shares) in the tender offer for a INR 85,778,082. On 4 July 2013, Diageo acquired an additional 14.98% stake in the company for INR31.35 billion (US$510 million) through its subsidiary Relay B.V. Diageo acquired 21.77 million shares at a cost of INR1440 (US$23) per share in an off-market-deal from United Spirits' promoters, raising its total holding in the company to 25.02 per cent. Following the acquisition, Diageo holds 36.3 million shares in USL, acquired at an aggregate cost of INR52358.5 million (US$850 million), making it the largest shareholder. Under pressure from Diageo, some substantial changes to the management structure of the firm have begun to take place.

United Spirits Limited (USL), the largest spirits company in the world by volume, sold 122.75 million cases for cases for the fiscal ending March 31,2012.

USL has a global footprint with exports to over 37 countries. It has a sizeable presence in India with distilleries and sales offices all across the country, and a committed team of over 7500 people dedicated to the fulfillment of the company's mission. It has established manufacturing and bottling plants in every state of India. In addition, to deliver its products to customers located anywhere in India, USL has established a robust distribution network covering the whole country.

McDowell's No.1 Celebration 2nd largest selling dark rum in the world.

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