Whisky heavyweight in legal feud with US supplier

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By Oliver Farrimond

LEADING Scots whisky firm Whyte & Mackay are embroiled in a major legal battle with their American distributors.

Following a successful 16-year partnership, Whyte & Mackay and stateside distributors Capstone have fallen out over an alleged unpaid sum of £240,000.

The row started when Whyte & Mackay started negotiations to buy Capstone earlier this year.

After discovering allegedly faulty paperwork in the distributors’ books, the whisky group sought to terminate the contract, claiming for unpaid fees of £240,000 for supplied whisky.

And now Capstone have counterclaimed for $10 million of damages, citing wrongful termination of their contract.

As a result, supplies of John Barr whisky to the United States were frozen.

The dispute is currently going through the Court of Session, overseen by Lord Menzies, with the distributors having agreed to pay the £240,000 sum.

Lord Menzies also ordered Whyte & Mackay to retain Capstone as their suppliers until the dispute is resolved.

However now Capstone are demanding that Whyte & Mackay desist in their search to find a new company to supply their whisky in the United States.

A spokesman for Capstone said: “We can confirm that the payment has been made to Whyte & Mackay and shipments of John Barr Scotch Whisky, to supplied in accordance with Lord Menzies’ order of July 30 2010, are eagerly awaited by Capstone.”

And a spokesman for Whyte & Mackay said: “Our position is that Capstone was in material breach of the distribution agreement and that we were entitled to terminate the agreement.

“We do not consider it appropriate to make any other comment while the case is before court.”

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