Diageo quenches thirst for bourbon with new premium brands

Alcohol giant Diageo has said it does not need to buy spirits producer Beam Inc and is set to launch two new premium bourbon brands, Orphan Barrel and Blade & Bow. Commenting on whether Diageo would seek to acquire the maker of Jim Beam and Maker's Mark, chief executive of officer, Ivan Menezes said, "we don't need to buy Beam. Fundamentally our position in total North American whiskey is strong."

There had been speculation earlier in the year that Diageo would make a bid for Beam in the wake of its failure to acquire Jose Cuervo tequila. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal in August, Mr Menezes said:

We have the capacity and we look at how the industry may reshape and what assets may become available.

For the right ones, we have the balance sheet strength to move on them.

Diageo retains a strong position in the North American whiskey market, with brands such as Johnnie Walker and Talisker leaving Diageo with 23 per cent of the market. Diageo's only Bourbon, Bulleit, is doubling sales every year and is set to sell 600,000 cases in 2013, according to the company.

While not enticed by Beam, Diageo has made eight acquisitions in developing markets in the past three years, spending approximately £3bn. The company continues to project six per cent revenue growth.