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Our history

1826

An enterprising Scotsman Angus McDowell sets up McDowell and Co as a trading company with its headquarters in Madras.

1951

Vittal Mallya acquires McDowell & Co initiating a new era in the history of the company.

1959

McDowell's sets up its first distillery in Kerala. The Cherthala plant is on the banks of Kerala's famous Vembanad Lake. It starts bottling Bisquit Brandy and Dorville French Brandy from imported concentrates.

1963-64

McDowell's launches its own McDowell's No.1 Brandy after the import contract for No.1 Bisquit Brandy gets terminated.

Vittal Mallya acquires Carew & Co with distilleries in Rosa (Uttar Pradesh), Asansol (West Bengal) and Darsana (East Bengal, now Bangladesh). The Rosa plant was known for manufacturing Carew's Rum, India's only 10-year-old rum. Carew's other popular brands include Blue Riband Gin, Booth's Gin, Carew's Dry Gin, Carew's Imperial Whisky, Carew's Fine Brandy and Doctor's Brandy. He also acquires Phipson & Co., Calcutta, creating a national footprint for the spirits business.

1968

McDowell's No. 1 Whisky launches and is an instant success. Today, it is the definitive flagship brand of Diageo India.

McDowell's commissions the Hyderabad distillery. This is followed by distilleries in Ponda (Goa) in 1971 and in Hathidah (Bihar) in 1973.

1973

USL acquired Herbertsons & Co. Defying all odds to acquire a host of breweries during Prohibition in India.

1977-80

Vittal Mallya goes on a distillery acquisition spree in Udaipur, Alwar, Mirganj and Serampore. He also sets up a plant in Pondicherry.

1979

Production of the first batch of McDowell’s No. 1 Whiskey Traveler at the Kumbalgodu distillery.

1980

Master blenders at Shaw Wallace & Company (which was later acquired by McDowell's) perfect Royal Challenge (popularly called RC). Royal Challenge wins the hearts of whisky drinkers across India. It is now the sole millionaire brand in the premium whisky segment.

1990

McDowell's No.1 Rum is launched in two variants -- Celebration (Dark) and Caribbean (White).

1991-1992

McDowell's acquires the spirits business of Forbes Campbell & Company Ltd with a plant at Nashik and its brand portfolio.

1992

McDowell's launches Asia's first Single Malt, Duet Gin and Vodka variants.

Shaw Wallace & Company (which was later acquired by McDowell's) launches Antiquity Rare Premium Whisky, a blend of exclusive Scotch, fine Indian malts and premium neutral alcohol.

India's first joint venture in alcohol beverages — United Distillers India Limited — is formed with United Distillers plc of United Kingdom. Black Dog 12 Year Old Deluxe Scotch, Black and White, VAT 69 and White Horse are bottled in India at the company’s Nashik Unit.

1994

McDowell's Signature, slated to be the 'Best Indian Whisky,’ is introduced. An immediate success, the brand creates waves internationally too.

1995

Carew Phipson Limited, Consolidated Distilleries Ltd and some other companies merge with McDowell's.

1998

McDowell & Co Ltd celebrates its centenary with five millionaire brands in its portfolio: No.1 McDowell's Whisky (annual sales of over 2.5 million cases), No.1 McDowell's Brandy (annual sales in excess of 2 million cases) and Celebration Rum, Old Cask Rum and Diplomat Whisky with sales of over one million cases each.

2005

McDowell's completes the acquisition of its traditional competitor Shaw Wallace & Company. Celebrated brands such as Royal Challenge, Antiquity, Director’s Special, and White Mischief are now part of the portfolio.

2006

United Spirits Limited (USL) is created through the merger of McDowell & Co Limited, Herbertsons Limited, Triumph Distillers and Vintners Private Limited, Baramati Grape Industries India Limited, Shaw Wallace Distilleries Limited and four other companies.

The company acquires Bouvet Ladubay, a subsidiary of France-based Taittinger.

2007

USL acquires Whyte and Mackay, the United Kingdom's leading Scotch whisky distillers. USL now becomes the world's third largest spirits group after Diageo plc of Great Britain and Pernod Ricard of France.

USL acquires Liquidity Inc., makers of Pinky vodka.

2008

USL introduces McDowell's No. 1, Royal Challenge and Antiquity in a new, international pack. Whyte & Mackay Special, bottled at the Nashik facility, is also launched.

2009 – 2010

Black Dog 18 Year Old and Four Seasons Barrique Reserve are launched, changing the luxury paradigm for the Indian consumer.

2011

United Spirits creates history. It sells 114 million cases and establishes its volume leadership in the world alcohol beverage market.

McDowell's No 1 Platinum — a 100 percent grain based whisky crafted by Richard Paterson, Master Blender of Whyte & Mackay — reaches the millionaire milestone in its debut year. Indian cricket skipper MS Dhoni endorses its soda extension.

McDowell's VSOP follows the McDowell's millionaire tradition in 2011.

2013-2014

Diageo plc acquires 54.8 percent shareholding in USL, making India one of its largest markets. Diageo plc is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands across spirits, beer and wine categories.

2015

McDowell's No.1 is ranked 14 in the 2015 BrandZ™ Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands rankings.

Royal Challenge undergoes a brand renovation, the first in several years. It boasts of stunning new packaging, liquid and positioning.

The new identity of McDowell’s No. 1 Soda is launched through a unique yet simple and powerful logo that represents how close friends hug each other.

2016

Mr. Mahendra K Sharma is appointed the Chairman.