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WHYTE & Mackay, has signed up Meidi-Ya, principal purveyors to the Japanese royal household and leading wholesale distributor, to market its flagship brand, Whyte & Mackay Special and its range of 12, 18, and 30-year-old blends, in Japan under a 30-year contract.

The nationwide distribution, negotiated ahead of April's planned reduction in the tax on spirits imported into Japan, will also include John Barr, Old Mull, Stewart's Finest Old, Dalmore and Tomintoul-Glenlivet.

Managing director, Mr Michael Lunn, heralded the development as ''the most significant agreement the company has negotiated since the acquisition of 10 new whisky brands in 1986 from DCL.''

Whyte & Mackay, which was sold last year by Lonrho to Brent Walker, has high hopes of the new initiative. By the end of the first year it is expecting a 100% increase in sales to Japan, multiplying seven times after 10 years.

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