Brown-Forman is to sell its Southern Comfort and Tuaca brands to Sazerac for £378 million, the company announced today.

Brown-Forman acquired Southern Comfort in 1979 and Italian liqueur Tuaca in a two-stage transaction which completed in 2002.

Paul Varga, chief executive of Brown-Forman, said: “We’re proud of the work undertaken over the years by our employees and partners on behalf of Southern Comfort and Tuaca.

“Both brands played important roles in the Brown-Forman success story, and we will have fond memories of the enjoyment they brought to consumers, our partners, and to Brown-Forman.”

Mark Brown, president and chief executive of the Sazerac Company, said: “We are very excited about the opportunity to acquire such iconic brands.

“Brown-Forman has done an excellent job of building both brands over the years and we are looking forward to many more years of successful brand building.”

The decision to sell Southern Comfort and Tuaca has been driven by Brown-Forman’s deepening focus on its highest strategic priorities, the company said.

The Southern Company family of brands dropped back 7% in the six months to October 31, 2015.

In its half-year trading statement the group attributed the decline to competitive pressure from flavoured whiskies and ongoing weakness in the on-trade.

The group’s net sales fell 4% to £762 million in its second quarter last year, with currency fluctuations continuing to act as a drag on its performance.

Southern Comfort posted retail sales of £34.6 million in the UK off-trade in 2014, making it one of the top 100 leading brands, according to market analyst Nielsen.

The sale is expected to complete by March 1.

Founded in 1869, the privately owned Sazerac company is the largest distiller in the US.