SCOTCH whisky distiller William Grant has appointed Glenn Gordon, who spent seven years as its managing director in the 1990s, to succeed his cousin Peter Gordon as non-executive chairman.

Both are great-great grandsons of William Grant, the company founder. William Grant & Sons Holdings remains in family ownership.

Glenn Gordon was, between September 1992 and December 1999, the managing director of William Grant, which now has drinks industry veteran Stella David as its chief executive.

His appointment as chairman is effective immediately.

Peter Gordon, who has been chairman for four years, will remain a director.

The distiller said Peter "will continue to work in the business and participate at the board and its committees". A spokesman said that Glenn Gordon would, as chairman, "offer support to the management team".

William Grant, founded in 1887, produces The Balvenie and Glenfiddich single malts. It also makes the world's fourth-largest blended Scotch whisky, Grant's.

Outwith the Scotch whisky sector, its spirits brands include Hendrick's gin, Sailor Jerry rum and Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey.

Peter Gordon said: "I am very proud of the significant strides that our business has achieved over the past four years as a result of everyone's efforts.

"A seamless transition between me and Glenn will ensure we maintain our current pace and continue to strengthen our wonderful brands."

Glenn Gordon said: "I would like to thank Peter for his contribution and for his energy and passion in developing the business. As non-exec chairman, I look forward to working with the board in support of the management team, led by Stella David, to ensure we continue to build the value of our portfolio of brands for the long term and maintain our position as an independent family company."

William Grant & Sons' board of directors includes vice-chairman Javier Ferran as well as Charles Gordon, Glenn Gordon, Peter Gordon, Fergus Chamberlain, Ms David, Robert Pollet, Iain Napier, and chief financial officer Dermid Strain.

The distiller announced in October last year it had achieved a 28% hike in annual operating profits to £132.4 million in 2010, from £103.6m in the prior year. The Scotch whisky sector as a whole has enjoyed strong market conditions overseas and surging exports in recent years, despite the global economic turmoil.

William Grant & Sons employs 1500 people worldwide.