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Whisky News, August 2010

Boom boom

According to a study commissioned by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) the industry's turnover in Scotland during 2008 amounted to some 6.4 billion. After oil and gas, whisky remains the country's leading manufactured export, with shipments worth over 3 billion per annum. 200 million was spent on cereal with Scottish-based suppliers, according to the study by Verso Economics, which also noted that the industry employs 10,300 people directly, and helps support 35,000 Scottish jobs. Overall, Scotch whisky is worth 4 billion a year in added value to the   
Scottish economy, with more than 1.1 billion spent each year on supplies produced in Scotland. Export value has grown by 42 per cent since 2000 and spending with Scottish suppliers has increased by 61 per cent over the same period. Remarkably, industry productivity - at 262,000 per employee - is six times the Scottish average. Despite the global recession, over the last three years, the Scotch whisky industry has invested 600 million in malt and grain distilleries, warehousing and bottling facilities. Optimism has been encouraged by markets such as China, which grew to be worth 80 million in 2009 from just 1 million in 2000. Single malts only account for just over six per cent of 2009's 94.4 million 12-bottle case Scotch market by volume, but the malt business has grown volumes by 23 per cent in the 2005-2009 five-year period, compared to 10 per cent for the whole industry.

Och la la

Meanwhile, there is even more positive news on the export front, with the SWA's announcement that a 12 per cent rise in exports during 2009 confirmed France as Scotch whisky's largest market by volume, with the equivalent of 179 million bottles imported. More Scotch whisky is therefore sold in one month in France than Cognac in a year. Scotch whisky also outsells traditional anise-based drinks and accounts for over a third of the total French spirits   
market. 2009 industry figures reveal that the value of exports to France has more than doubled to 407 million over the last decade, with Scotch whisky accounting for around a quarter of all Scottish exports to the market. Gavin Hewitt, Chief Executive of The Scotch Whisky Association, says that "Scotch whisky's continued success in France is a Scottish export success story, with French consumers appreciating the authenticity, flavour and heritage of our brands. Last year was a record one for Scotch whisky distillers in what has become our largest market by volume."

Portsoy Sauce

While a number of distillery revival projects have been touted in recent years, few have come to fruition. However, Glenglassaugh is one of the success stories. Closed down by owners Highland Distillers in 1986, the Portsoy distillery, on the Moray Firth coast, was purchased by the Dutch-based Scaent Group in 2008, with production recommencing in December of that year. Consultant and writer Ian Buxton has been involved with the Glenglassaugh project from its inception, occupying the role of part-time Director of   
Marketing. It is fitting, therefore, that Buxton has chronicled the fascinating story of the distillery, from the establishment of the Glenglassaugh Distillery Company in 1875 up to the present day. Glenglassaugh: A Distillery Reborn is a handsome volume, available in hardback and paperback formats from The Glenglassaugh Distillery Company in association with The Angels' Share (, 19.99/14.99). The book not only covers the rollercoaster ride of fortunes experienced by the distillery over the years, but also examines the various bottlings of Glenglassaugh produced in the past, not to mention a section devoted to the currently available 'house' expressions. For good measure, Alfred Barnard's 1898 essay on Glenglassaugh, part of a pamphlet devoted to distilleries owned by Highland Distilleries Co Ltd, is also included. According to Glenglassaugh MD Stuart Nickerson, "We are delighted with this book and our collaboration with The Angel's Share. The result is a complete record of a remarkable story, told by a real insider, that is important both to the Scotch whisky industry and this beautiful corner of Scotland. "We believe that Glenglassaugh - A Distillery Reborn will be of interest to our growing international customer base, whisky enthusiasts and local people. It's a fascinating story, well told, and a handsome book to grace any library. We'd like to thank and congratulate Ian; Jules Akel, who designed the book and Alex Salmond, who contributed the Foreword in his previous role as our local MP." It is good to see a book devoted to one of Scotland's lesser-known distilleries, and all the better because the tale has a happy ending.

And finally...

One of the UK's biggest airlines, BMI, has been somewhat over-zealous in its efforts to attract fliers to Aberdeen. A new advertising campaign describes Aberdeen as "...a quintessential Scottish town" famous for producing whisky. Firstly, Aberdeen is a city, Scotland's third largest, and secondly, nobody has distilled whisky - legally, at any rate - in the 'granite city' since the closure of Strathdee distillery, which survived until   
the Second World War. Just as worrying, however, are the comments by Andrew Martin of the Scottish Centre for Tourism, based at Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University. "As a whisky connoisseur and writer I can honestly say I have never heard of distilleries in Aberdeen. " Oh dear Andrew, 'whisky-pages' thinks you need to invest in a copy of Mr Barnard's estimable 1887 publication The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, where three operational Aberdeen distilleries are listed...

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