Bell's whisky

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

Bell's Whisky
TypeScotch Whisky
Country of originScotland


The Bells distillery was founded in 1798 [2].

In 1851, Arthur Bell (1825–1900) began to blend various single malts together to create a more consistent blended whisky.[3] Arthur Bell was the first known whisky manufacturer to appoint a London agent, by at least 1863.[4] Bell's two sons joined the business in partnership in 1895.[5] Arthur Kinmond (1868–1942) was appointed to manage the domestic market and Robert was appointed as head of the brand overseas.[4] By the 1880s the company was focused on blended whisky.[4] Arthur Bell died in 1900.[4] 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.[5] In 1936 the Inchgower distillery was also acquired.[6]

The Bell brothers died in 1942 and the company accountant, William Govan Farquharson, became chairman of the company.[4] He focused on advertising the brand more heavily.[4] Bell's became a public company in 1949.[6] In 1954, Arthur Bell exported to 130 different countries.[7]

By 1970, Bell's was the highest selling whisky in Scotland.[4] In the early 1970s, Bell's could not afford the advertising budget of the larger whisky distillers.[8] Instead, it focused on the use of mixers with its product.[8] This increased the product's popularity with women, and Bell's revenues rose by 800% between 1970 and 1979.[8] In 1978 Bell's became the UK's highest selling whisky.[5] Much of the credit for this expansion is given to the then managing director Raymond Miquel.[9] By 1980 the company had around 35 percent market share in the UK.[9]

Arthur Bell & Sons acquired Gleneagles Hotels in 1984.[10] In 1985 the company was acquired by Guinness for $518 million, and subsequently absorbed into Diageo.[11]


Blair Athol is the main component of the blend.[12] Dufftown and Inchgower still figure, but Glenkinchie and Caol Ila are also components.[12]

The Pittyvaich distillery was used in the blend between 1974 and 1993.[13]

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

The product is 40% ABV in the UK, and 43% ABV in South Africa.[14]


The brand's top markets are the UK, South Africa, the Nordic countries, Spain and Brazil.[15]


A religious man, modesty prevented Arthur Bell from using his name on his whisky.[13] The Arthur Bell name was not attached to the product until 1904.[13]

A yellow floribunda rose was named after Arthur Bell in the early 1960s.[16] Bell's has used the "Afore ye go" slogan since 1925.[5]


  1. Nielsen, GB Off Trade Value Sales MAT TO WE 14/05/2011, CGA On Trade Value Sales MAT TO 16/04/2011
  2. "Bell's Whisky - The Distillery".
  3. Gavin D. Smith; Dominic Roskrow; Davin De Kergommeaux (2012). Whisky Opus. Dorling Kindersley. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-4053-9474-1. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  4. "Scotch Whisky : Most authoritative guide to Scotch whisky online - Scotch Whisky".
  5. "Bell's Whisky - Home".
  6. Ronald B. Weir, ‘Bell, Arthur (1825–1900)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011 accessed 8 Jan 2014
  7. "Bell's Whisky - Home".
  8. James, Barrie G. (1985). Business Wargames. Taylor & Francis. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-85626-441-2.
  9. Philip Hills (21 December 2012). Scots On Scotch: The Book of Whisky. Mainstream Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-78057-788-3.
  10. David Parker (19 June 2013). The Official History of Privatisation, Vol. II: Popular Capitalism, 1987–97. Routledge. p. 438. ISBN 978-1-136-33123-7.
  11. Feder, Barnaby J.; Times, Special to The New York (24 August 1985). "Bell's Stockholders Back Guinness Bid" via
  12. "Bell's Whisky - Home".
  13. "Bells Whisky – one of Scotlands big brands". Archived from the original on 2014-01-08. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  14. "Bell's Whisky - Home".
  15. Whisk(e)y Archived January 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  16. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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