FORMER Real Madrid and Liverpool star Michael Owen is to become the global brand ambassador for Spey whisky.

It is the first time the striker, scorer of 40 goals in 89 appearances for England, has partnered with a drinks company.

Spey, which is made by Speyside Distillers Company, is already well established in Taiwan and is making more of a push into other parts of south east Asia including China.

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Speyside Distillers recently took on £4.3 million of funding from Clydesdale Bank and intends to use part of that to lay down more stock in anticipation of a continuing growth in demand. Mr Owen is expected to make a number of trips to the Far East as part of his agreement to represent Spey. A limited edition Michael Owen branded whisky is to be released later this year.

Mr Owen said: "Since I retired as a professional footballer I have been able to enjoy some of the finer things in life and enjoying a glass or two of Spey whisky is certainly a little treat I afford myself on occasion.

"I am really looking forward to helping promote such a prestigious brand, particularly in Asia where I am happily spending more and more of my time these days." John McDonough, chief executive of Speyside Distillers, said: "We are thrilled to be working with Michael, a true icon of international football as well as a great family man.

"Spey is an increasingly iconic brand, especially in international territories. We are also a family business, so the fit could not be better."