C&C Group has today announced the sale of its spirits and liqueurs division to William Grant for €300m (£260m).
C&C's spirits business includes brands such as Tullamore Dew and Irish Mist, and proceeds from the sale will be used to reduce debt and for "general corporate purposes", the Magners cider producer said today.
William Grant produces a number of Scotch whisky brands including Grant's and Glenfiddich, as well as Hendrick's Gin.
Stella David, the company's chief executive, said Irish whiskey was a "natural fit" for the group.
"The C&C spirits business provides a unique opportunity to acquire a number of significant brands, enter the highly desirable and dynamic Irish whiskey category and invest in and grow the value of these brands over the long term," she added.
Management and staff of the spirits operation, 57 people in total, will transfer over to William Grant and it will operate the division's packaging facility at C&C's manufacturing site in Clonmel, County Tipperary.
The sale reflects C&C's strategy of moving towards a portfolio skewed towards cider and beer.
The group has added the Gaymer Cider Company and Tennent's beer brands to its stable over the last year and its spirits operation, with its relatively small contribution to overall sales and profits, was clearly becoming less core to the group.
Last October C&C reported half year spirits and liqueur sales down 20 per cent and operating profits down by more than a third.
In its disposal statement C&C said for the year ended February 28, 2010, it was forecasting pre-exceptional earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation of €15.3m (£13.3m), down five per cent on 2009.
Stephen Glancey, C&C's chief operating officer said: "While the division represents a comparatively small component of C&C's overall earnings, the consideration reflects the quality of its brand portfolio and its strong market positions.
"We believe that William Grant is best placed to grow and develop this business for the long term."