gavin smith

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Whisky News, May 2013

by Gavin D Smith

Scotch slows?

logo For the first time in several years the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has not been able to trumpet the excellent levels of growth being enjoyed by Scotch whisky exports, as the value of said exports only grew by one per cent during 2012. At the same time, there was a decline in the volume of Scotch whisky exports of five per cent to 1.19 billion 70cl bottles in 2012 from 1.26bn the previous year. According to the SWA this decrease reflects "… increased demand for more expensive, premium blended Scotch whisky and the growing popularity of single malts." Falling sales in Southern Europe were matched by growing exports elsewhere, and the SWA notes that "The French market was distorted by excise tax increases in 2012 which led to a 'stocking up' of Scotch whisky in 2011 before their introduction." The USA remains the top market by value for Scotch whisky, with exports breaking through the £700m barrier for the first time to reach £758m in 2012. "Demand from the USA is expected to increase as consumer confidence grows and many people trade up to premium brands," reckons the SWA. In South America, Scotch whisky is one of the UK's fastest growing exports to Mexico, increasing by 14 per cent to £92m in 2012 The growth of Scotch whisky exports in Russia, a market estimated to be worth in the region of £200m, boosted shipments to Latvia and Estonia. Direct exports to Latvia rose by 48 per cent to £79 million and to Estonia they were up 28 per cent to £69m. Due to 'route-to-market' networks, much of those exports are shipped on to Russia. Asia continues to grow in importance with exports to the distribution hub of Singapore rising by seven per cent to £339m. Exports to Taiwan increased by seven per cent to £165m and direct shipments to China experienced growth of eight per cent to £72m. Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, says that "There is confidence in the future of the industry, illustrated by the £2 billion capital investment that Scotch whisky producers have committed over the next three to four years. New distilleries have opened and older ones brought back to use to meet rising demand."

Diageo opts for Teaninich

diageo At the heart of all that capital investment referred to by Gavin Hewitt is Diageo, and the company recently announced that it has chosen the site for its next malt whisky distillery construction programme. A shortlist of three potential venues - Glendullan, Inchgower and Teaninich - has finally been narrowed down to Teaninich, located on the outskirts of Alness, close to the Cromarty Firth, and some 20 miles north of Inverness. A Diageo spokesperson notes that "The new distillery, which will create up to 20 new Diageo jobs, will be adjacent to the company's existing Teaninich distillery but will have its own name and identity. It involves an investment in the region of £50 million and will have the capacity to produce around 13 million litres of spirit per annum (mla) from 16 stills. An on-site bio-energy plant will also be constructed to convert co-products into green energy to power the distillery." At the same time, Diageo also plans to invest £12 million in expanding the existing Teaninich distillery to almost double its capacity. The company has also announced plans to invest around £30million in new production facilities on Speyside, including a project to substantially increase the capacity of the Mortlach distillery in Dufftown. This will involve the building of a new stillhouse, which will replicate Mortlach's unique partial-triple distillation process. Another element of the investment will be the construction of a new plant at Glendullan to process co-products in an anaerobic digestion process, producing bio-gas which will be used to power Glendullan distillery. This new plant is an important element of future distillery expansion plans on Speyside as it creates the capacity to process the extra co-products which will result from increased Scotch whisky production. In relation to the latest Speyside investment, Diageo's Malt Distilling Director Brian Higgs says that "Mortlach is one of Diageo's most important malt whisky distilleries, producing the finest quality single malt used in our world-leading blended Scotch whiskies. We are delighted to be able to develop and expand this distillery. "Along with the plans for the new bio-plant, our financial investment in Speyside is the equivalent to building a new distillery and with other expansion work already underway, the Moray economy is benefiting significantly from Diageo's investment in Scotch whisky distillation."

BenRiach goes for Glenglassaugh

distillery The BenRiach Distillery Company has acquired Glenglassaugh for an undisclosed sum, thereby adding a third distillery to its portfolio, which already includes BenRiach and GlenDronach. BenRiach's managing director Billy Walker says that "The distillery has been well stewarded, but with increased investment we will be able to take it to the next level. We will operate at close to capacity, which is around 1.1 million litres per year. We won't change the basic strategy of marketing Glenglassaugh Revival and Evolution and we will continue to bottle single vintage casks." The existing production staff at the distillery on the Moray Firth coast will be retained, and Glenglassaugh managing director Stuart Nickerson remains on a consultancy basis for six months, while also having plans to pursue other business interests.

Laing time gone

Fred The Glasgow firm of independent bottlers Douglas Laing & Co, which was founded in 1948, is undergoing major changes, as joint managing directors and brothers Fred (pictured) and Stewart Laing go their separate ways. Fred will continue to head up Douglas Laing & Co, while Stewart launches a new company, Hunter Laing & Co. The assets of Douglas Laing & Co have been split between the two brothers. Stock, brands and other functions of the business have been divided, giving both brothers equal value. Stewart will retain the Old Malt Cask, the Old & Rare Selection and Douglas (of Drumlanrig) range of single malts, Douglas Blend, House Of Peers, Sovereign Single Grain and John Player Special blend, as well as the bottling facility in East Kilbride. Douglas Laing, under Fred, will continue to offer the single cask Provenance range, Director's Cut, Double Barrel, Premier Barrel, Clan Denny malts and grains, Epicurean Blend, the King Of Scots range, McGibbon's and Big Peat. Cara Laing, Fred's daughter, joins the company as Head of Brands Marketing, having previously worked for Morrison Bowmore Distillers and Whyte & Mackay Distillers. In a joint statement, Fred and Stewart Laing say that "The Scotch whisky industry is in great shape at the moment and this presents each of us with the perfect opportunity to diversify and explore different projects with the next generation of our families. "As drinkers around the world expand their whisky repertoire and seek out new flavours, the opportunities for niche players will flourish. Our commitment is to creating a solid business for the next generation of our families and the business structures now in place allow us to capitalise on the opportunities the market place provides for their long-term benefit."

Class glass

glass Stirlingshire glassmaker Tom Young and his daughter Karen have recently launched a new range of whisky glassware, under the 'Angels' Share' banner. According to a company spokesperson, "This is a truly unique and stunning collection of hand-blown glass whisky droppers, stirrers, decorations and scent bottles all of which complement the product line's centrepiece - the Angel's Share Whisky Angel. In a secret process known only to Tom, the caramel-lustred angel is filled and sealed with whisky - the fabled quantity that is traditionally known as 'The Angels' Share.' "Celebrating Scotland's whisky heritage, and sure to be treasured by the whisky industry, gift-buyers and tourists alike, the range pays homage to the myth of The Angels' Share, which says that the volume of whisky lost to evaporation during the cask or barrel ageing process becomes the heavenly preserve of the angels… Tom Young captures this divine measure of whisky and presents it in the striking Angel's Share Whisky Angel, which is filled with 30ml of 40 per cent volume single malt. This is within the permitted amount of liquid for air travel, so it can be carried in hand luggage." For more information visit

And finally…

seaplane Cutty Sark blended Scotch whisky has announced a partnership with Loch Lomond Seaplanes, with the brand having recently celebrated its 90th birthday. Jason Craig, Global Brand Controller, Cutty Sark, comments that "2013 is going to be a truly momentous year for the Cutty Sark brand. The stunning bright yellow seaplane really reflects what we hope will be the journey for our whisky brand for the next five to 10 years; from its roots as a Scotch to taking flight as an urban, relevant and pioneering whisky for new generation of whisky drinkers." Do we win a free bottle for suggesting that the partnership adopts the slogan 'Cutty Sark gets you high…"?

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