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Charles Gordon, William Grant & Sons’ Leader, Dies At 86

December 24, 2013

Charles Gordon, life president of William Grant & Sons, passed away over the weekend in New York. He was 86.

In a statement to SND, William Grant & Sons described Gordon as “a key driving force” in building the Scotland-based company into a strong, independent family-owned global drinks producer.

The great-grandson of company founder William Grant, Gordon’s achievements include leading the Glenfiddich and Grant’s Scotch whisky brands to global prominence. Today, Grant’s is the fourth-largest Scotch whisky brand internationally, at 4.5 million cases, while Glenfiddich is the world’s top single malt, at 1 million cases, according to Impact Databank. Overall, William Grant has posted revenues of above £1 billion ($1.6b) each of the past two years.

Gordon’s son Glenn, William Grant’s current chairman, said: “We are all very proud of my father’s achievements in his very full and energetic lifetime, and give thanks for the legacy that he has left us with. He touched the lives of many, many people and will be sorely missed by all. In our family and our business, which my father always intertwined, he very much believed in a spirit of partnership. In his memory, we will continue to build this spirit, and with it our independent family business, for future generations.”

William Grant CEO Stella David added that Gordon made “a truly exceptional contribution to our company,” which will “continue to build on Charles’ remarkable legacy.”

Speaking at the Impact Seminar in 2011, David referenced Gordon’s enduring influence on the business, emphasizing that William Grant would continue to honor his approach of building brands the tried and true way, “drink by drink in the on-premise.”

The company has employed that time-tested strategy with renewed force in the U.S. market in particular in recent years. The result has been a successful diversification beyond the Scotch whisky category and into other segments like rum with Sailor Jerry, gin with Hendrick’s, Tequila with Milagro and Irish whiskey with Tullamore D.E.W. Hendrick’s, Milagro and Tullamore D.E.W. all earned Impact “Hot Prospect” honors last year on double-digit growth, while Sailor Jerry leapt from just 55,000 cases in 2005 to more than 700,000 cases in 2012.

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