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Bell's whisky

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Title: Bell's whisky  
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Subject: United Distillers, Blair Athol distillery, Diageo, Scottish Football League, List of recurring Monty Python's Flying Circus characters
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Bell's whisky

Bell's Scotch Whisky barrel at the Blair Athol Distillery in Pitlochry.

Bell's is a brand of blended Scotch whisky originally produced by Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd and now owned by Diageo. It is the highest selling whisky in the UK.[1]


In 1851, Arthur Bell (1825–1900) began to blend various single malts together to create a more consistent blended whisky.[2] Arthur Bell was the first known whisky manufacturer to appoint a London agent, by at least 1863.[3] Bell's two sons joined the business in partnership in 1895.[4] Arthur Kinmond (1868–1942) was appointed to manage the domestic market and Robert was appointed as head of the brand overseas.[3] By the 1880s the company was focused on blended whisky.[3] Arthur Bell died in 1900.[3] In 1921 the partnership became a private company run by Arthur Kinmond after Robert retired to live as a country gentleman. The end of Prohibition in America created a surge in demand, which led Arthur Bell & Sons to acquire two distilleries in 1933: Blair Athol and Dufftown.[4] In 1936 the Inchgower distillery was also acquired.[5]

The Bell brothers died in 1942 and the company accountant, William Govan Farquharson, became chairman of the company.[3] He focused on advertising the brand more heavily.[3] Bell's became a public company in 1949.[5] In 1954, Arthur Bell exported to 130 different countries.[6]

By 1970, Bell's was the highest selling whisky in Scotland.[3] In the early 1970s, Bell's could not afford the advertising budget of the larger whisky distillers.[7] Instead, it focused on the user of mixers with its product.[7] This increased the product's popularity with women, and Bell's revenues rose by 800 percent between 1970 and 1979.[7] In 1978 Bell's became the UK's highest selling whisky.[4] Much of the credit for this expansion is given to the then managing director Raymond Miquel.[8] By 1980 the company had around 35 percent market share in the UK.[8]

Arthur Bell & Sons acquired Gleneagles Hotels in 1984.[9] In 1985 the company was acquired by Guinness for $518 million, and subsequently absorbed into Diageo.[10]


Shieldhall bottling plant

Blair Athol is the main component of the blend.[11] Dufftown and Inchgower still figure, but Glenkinchie and Caol Ila are also components.[11]

The Pittyvaich distillery was used in the blend between 1974 and 1993.[12]

Bell's is bottled at Diageo's Shieldhall plant.

The product is 40% ABV in the UK, and 43% ABV in South Africa.[13]


The brand's top markets are the UK, South Africa, the Nordic countries, Spain and Brazil.[14]


A religious man, modesty prevented Arthur Bell from using his name on his whisky.[12] The Arthur Bell name was not attached to the product until 1904.[12]

A yellow floribunda rose was named after Arthur Bell in the early 1960s.[15] Bell's has used the "Afore ye go" slogan since 1925.[4]

In popular culture

Clive Owen's character Theo in the movie Children of Men, set in 2027, usually carries a small bottle of Bell's with him.


  1. ^ Nielsen, GB Off Trade Value Sales MAT TO WE 14/05/2011, CGA On Trade Value Sales MAT TO 16/04/2011
  2. ^ Gavin D. Smith; Dominic Roskrow; Davin De Kergommeaux (2012). Whisky Opus. Dorling Kindersley. p. 83.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Bells – About Whisky – Blends –
  4. ^ a b c d Bell's – History
  5. ^ a b Ronald B. Weir, ‘Bell, Arthur (1825–1900)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011 accessed 8 Jan 2014
  6. ^ Bell's Whisky
  7. ^ a b c James, Barrie G. (1985). Business Wargames. Taylor & Francis. p. 60.  
  8. ^ a b Philip Hills (21 December 2012). Scots On Scotch: The Book of Whisky. Mainstream Publishing. p. 14.  
  9. ^ David Parker (19 June 2013). The Official History of Privatisation, Vol. II: Popular Capitalism, 1987–97. Routledge. p. 438.  
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Bell's – Discovery
  12. ^ a b c Bells Whisky – one of Scotlands big brands
  13. ^ Bell's Whisky
  14. ^ Whisk(e)y
  15. ^

External links

  • Official website
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