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December 2009 Scotch Whisky News

31 Dec

Whisky galore will be up for grabs

Almost 400 lots to be sold at auction

A NORTH-EAST auction centre will be this weekend’s setting for a whisky galore sale, with almost 400 lots going under the hammer.

Saturday’s 11am auction at the Thainstone Centre, near Inverurie, is expected to attract brisk bidding.

The Thainstone specialist auctions event annually attracts interest from connoisseurs and collectors from around the country, with local people looking for a special New Year celebration dram.

As usual the sale will feature whiskies from almost every distillery in Scotland.

Among the collectable items on offer will be an unboxed, but listed as very old, bottle of John Thompson, to number five in a limited edition of only 200 bottles of special Armistice Day whisky.

Bells decanters to be sold will include royal commemoratives celebrating events from the births of Prince William and Princess Eugenie and the late Queen Mother’s 100th year to the Queen’s golden wedding. Among the final lots of the seasonal sale will be a series of Bells Christmas decanters dating from the 1980s into the present century.

The collectable and limited-edition Scotch whisky items will on view from 9am on the day of the sale. A big turnout is expected at the auction, while enthusiasts from throughout the UK and overseas will be able to bid online through the centre’s eBid@liveauction site.

Staff at Glen Dronach Distillery at Forgue, near Huntly, are celebrating two awards for its 15-year-old Revival single malt.

The north-east whisky was voted best single malt whisky of the year at the annual Dutch Whisky Awards from a line-up of 300 whiskies.

It has also taken a top accolade in this year’s Malt Maniacs Awards, an annual web-based international competition.

Revival is matured in sherry casks to produce a distinctive full-bodied flavour.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

24 Dec

Illicit whisky still put back into use on Lewis

A former illicit still has been put back into use by an island's whisky distiller.

Mark Tayburn, who runs the Abhainn Dearg Distillery in Uig, on Lewis, is able to operate the small still under the distillery's licence.

Whisky was illicitly produced across the Highlands and Islands until distilling was legalised by the Excise Act of 1823.

Mr Tayburn hopes to make a distinctive whisky using the old still.

He was granted a licence for his distillery by HM Revenue and Customs in November 2008.

Mr Tayburn's decision to put the small still back into use has been welcomed by Western Isles SNP MSP Alasdair Allan.

He said: "I am happy to say Lewis has now started producing one of Scotland's most unusual whiskies in almost certainly the country's smallest licensed still."

In 2006, whisky distillers at Glenlivet recreated history by legally using a similar style illicit still and the same methods as illicit distillers once employed in Banffshire.

Article Courtesy of BBCi


18 Dec

Ballantine's whisky brand partners with artist Julian Beever for Heathrow campaign

Ballantine's, Pernod Ricard's Scotch whisky brand, has collaborated with international pavement artist Julian Beever as part of a marketing push outside London Heathrow Terminal 3 this Christmas.

The campaign, booked with JCDecaux Airport's experiential division Sphere and devised by communication agency Circle IMC, extends Ballantine's "Leave an Impression" campaign and claims to be the first of its kind at a UK airport.

Through the work, Pernod Ricard hopes to increase awareness of Ballantine's Finest by word of mouth.

Beever finishes his drawing today (18 December), after which it will be opened to the public until Christmas.

Updates on Terminal 3's digital network will showcase the development of the drawing from its initial stages through to the final piece.

In addition to driving customers to the World Duty Free store in T3, coupons will be handed out offering the chance to win a Ballantine's branded watch.

Travellers will also have the opportunity to sample the Ballantine's range, while a gift is available with any Ballantine's reference purchased.

Nicola Greene, head of Sphere Sales at JCDecaux Airport, said: "A campaign with this level of creative flair demonstrates yet again the potential for experiential advertising at airports.

"We are really proud to be able to deliver a passenger experience that will delight travellers during their airport journey and that can only increase the brand perception of exclusive products like Ballantine's whisky."

Before the launch in London, the Ballantine's Finest Street Impression campaign was first executed in Uruguay outside a shopping mall in Montevideo, followed by Las Condes in Chile in October.

Article Courtesy of Media Week

Media Week

16 Dec

Isle of Skye goes to the races

Isle of Skye 8 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky has announced a new sponsorship deal with Scottish Racing.

The exciting new partnership, to commence in January 2010, will name Isle of Skye 8 Years Blended Scotch Whisky as the sponsor of the Scottish Racing ‘Trainers’ Championship’ and official whisky partner at all five Scottish Race courses - Ayr, Hamilton Park, Kelso, Musselburgh and Perth.

The sponsorship deal includes award presentations at race days throughout the year, to the top National Hunt and top Flat racehorse trainer at each individual track, as well as to the top overall Scottish Flat and Jump trainer with runners at all five Scottish racecourses over the year. In addition, Isle of Skye 8 Years Old will be stocked in bars at all of the courses. Promotional activity will also include a range of joint marketing initiatives such as on course advertising support, website promotion and point of sale.

Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, commented: “The sponsorship of Scottish Racing will form a key part of our 2010 (and beyond) marketing programme. We are delighted to be working with Scottish Racing to promote Scotland’s unique, popular and highly regarded racecourses. Scottish Racing is built on a commitment to tradition and excellence, values that sit very well with Isle of Skye 8 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky.

Commenting on the new sponsorship deal, Jonathan Garratt, Commercial Manager of Scottish Racing said: “Isle of Isle of Skye 8 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky will be our official whisky partner for 2010 and we could not wish for more enthusiastic supporters. Whisky is one of the major ingredients within Scotland’s hospitality experience and we are very proud to be associated with this top quality blend, which I am sure will go down very well with all our customers.”

The Scottish Racing partnership is an integral part of Ian Macleod Distillers’ brand development strategy for Isle of Skye 8 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky, which aims to raise the profile of the award-winning whisky throughout Scotland and beyond. This builds on last month’s announcement that Isle of Skye 8 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky was stepping up its sponsorship of Scotland’s number one National Hunt racehorse trainer, Lucinda Russell and her team at Arlary House Stables.

The five Scottish racecourses stage approximately 100 fixtures each year and welcome more than 320,000 visitors for both Flat and National Hunt (Jump) racing.

Isle of Skye 8 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky will be available at all of the public bars at the five racecourses, along with three other Ian Macleod brands, award-winning Glengoyne Highland Single malt, London Hill Gin and Watson’s Trawler Dark Rum.

Isle of Skye 8 Years Old Blended Scotch whisky is available at 8 Years Old, limited edition 21 and 50 Years Old. An exceptionally smooth and mellow Scotch whisky containing a high proportion of carefully selected Island and Speyside Malts, the 8 Years Old has been described by whisky expert Jim Murray, as “an absolute must for any Islay-philes out there – in fact, a must for everybody. Your taste buds are beaten up and caressed simultaneously. One of the most enormous yet brilliantly balanced whiskies in the world.”

The Isle of Skye 8 Years Old is available in a range of sizes - 1.5 litre, 70cl, 35cl and 5cl with a recommended retail price of £13.99 for 70cl.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

15 Dec

Highland Park Reveals New Bottling The Earl Magnus Edition 1

The internationally acclaimed and award winning distillery, Highland Park announces the launch of its latest premium single malt whisky, The Earl Magnus Edition 1 - a perfectly-balanced natural strength bottling taken from hand selected casks from the turn of the last century.

This limited edition expression provides lovers of this award winning single malt liquid with the opportunity to experience or collect a very distinct bottling that captures a time in history through its tasting and the story that is told.

The bottling celebrates the life of Earl Magnus, an 11th century Christian; a man of peace and great authority who shared the rule of the Orkney Earldom with his treacherous cousin Haakon. Envious at the increasing popularity of his cousin, matters between the two reached a crisis and in a bitter twisted rivalry, Haakon had his cousin slaughtered. Magnus’s body was laid to rest on Egilsy and later at Birsay it was said that miracles of healing were experienced around his tomb.

The story is legendary as is the new edition from Highland Park. Bottled at 52.6% abv this unique 15 year old full natural strength expression delivers a beautiful balance of ginger and lemon notes, cumulating with delicate aromatic blends of ginger and vanilla, combined with the signature heather peat smokiness of Highland Park. Distinct in taste, the bottling and gift box combines current artisan design elements of the classic Highland Park style and these have been skilfully maintained and blended with historic drawings taken from preserved archive bottles at the Highland Park distillery.

Key design elements include the composition of the light brown glass itself. With natural looking flaws, bubbles and an unusual orange peel texture the glass making reflects the techniques used over 150 years ago.

The bespoke light brown glass bottle is offset with an archive inspired label that depicts Earl Magnus in a stained glass window. It is sealed with a black stopper, coated in black wax stamped with the classic Highland Park ‘H’. Stoelze Flaconnage, the specialist bottle makers have created this ancient looking bottle that consumers can keep long after the liquid has been savoured.

The bottle is presented in an open window wooden gift box that is simple in design and etched with modern Highland Park branding and the historic tale of Earl Magnus – the story of his remarkable life, how he came to his brutal and tragic death and how years later his life was eternally remembered through his canonisation and the building of St Magnus cathedral, a magnificent structure that stands not far from the distillery – the home of Highland Park.

Jason Craig, Global Controller of Highland Park, said: “Orkney has a wonderful and magical heritage born out of an incredibly colourful history; with troubles, strife, heroism and a lasting legacy of historical structures and ancient and mysterious standing circles on our island. We hope our Highland Park drinkers and collectors will love this limited edition bottling that captures a period of remarkable history, delivers a full strength 15 year old and is big on flavour and aroma which is succinct and distinguished in taste.”

Earl Magnus Edition 1 will be available from late December in the UK from specialist independent whisky retailers throughout the UK, the Highland Park distillery and at a RRP of £85.00.

Earl Magnus Detail:
Age: 15 year old from 1994 and earlier years
Strength: 52.6% abv
Appearance: Golden honey, clear and bright
Aroma: Cedarwood and lemon. Mango chunks with hints of ginger and cinnamon bark
Palate: Vanilla, balanced smokiness, milk chocolate and crystallised ginger
Aftertaste: Medium sweet with lingering spiciness

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

15 Dec

Glenfiddich offers a true taste of Scotland

The world's most awarded single malt Scotch whisky, Glenfiddich, distributed in the UK by leading drinks company First Drinks, is investing in a heavyweight integrated Christmas communications campaign worth over £1 million.

The number one malt whisky brand in the UK, Glenfiddich has a heavyweight advertising campaign planned across top end glossy magazines and newspaper supplements, reaching 3.5 million target consumers.

Off-trade in-store support is also being upweighted this year, focusing on the point of purchase. The creative will run under the strapline "Discover the true taste of Christmas" referencing Glenfiddich's Christmas Day beginnings in 1887 when the first spirit ran from the Glenfiddich stills.

The brand's status as the world's most awarded single malt Scotch whisky will also be communicated to consumers, reinforcing the brand's quality credentials.

"Glenfiddich continues to pioneer the single malt category with a comprehensive range. From the iconic 12YO through the 15YO, 18YO and 21YO expressions, Glenfiddich is the essential malt whisky.

"Other rare, exclusive bottlings and limited editions such as the 50YO, a flawless expression priced at £10,000 per bottle, have cemented our status as a favourite with consumers the world over.

"The brand really is a must-stock for retailers whether they are targeting the lucrative gifting market or consumers buying their favourite malt for themselves, as well as bars looking to capitalise on the Christmas season," says Andy Corris, Senior Brand Manager for Glenfiddich at First Drinks.

"Our Christmas programme this year will communicate the fact that due to our heritage, we are the ideal malt whisky for the festive season.

"Our advertising campaign will reach millions of consumers, and outlets must make sure they have adequate stock of the number one malt whisky brand in the UK as we will be top of mind with drinkers, and actively sought out".

The campaign will also incorporate an online focus from Glenfiddich Explorers, the brand's relationship marketing programme, which seeks to drive brand engagement with drinkers and demonstrate new and exciting ways to enjoy Glenfiddich.

Target consumers will be contacted via the brand's customer database and invited to pick their favourite variant of Glenfiddich.

A subtle hint is then emailed to friends and family, encouraging them to purchase Glenfiddich as the perfect Christmas present.

Glenfiddich will wrap up its 2009 activity with The Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards, which take place in Edinburgh on Tuesday 8th December. Now in its twelfth year, the event recognises individuals who are leading the way within Scottish culture.

Article Courtesy of Talking Retail

Talking Retail

11 Dec

English whisky goes on sale for first time since 19th century

It is hardly whisky galore, but English whisky will go on sale next week, the first time in more than 120 years that a distillery south of the border has produced the drink.

The St George's distillery in Roudham, Norfolk, will be hoping to do for English whisky what wine producers in the home counties have done for sparkling wine, which has proved more than a match for French champagne.

St George's single malt has already received favourable reviews in its pre-whisky form – the spirits have to mature for three years before being officially designated whisky.

Keir Sword, proprietor of Royal Mile Whiskies, the whisky retailer in Edinburgh, has tasted the peated and non-peated varieties of St George's and thinks English whisky has what it takes to become a decent tipple.

"Both should improve over time and they will be good whiskies," he said.

The English Whisky Company, which owns the St George's distillery, was started by farmer Andrew Nelstrop and his father James. After deciding on what some might say was a crazy venture in 2005, they distilled the whisky in November 2006. In a publicity coup for the Nelstrops, their distillery was officially opened in March 2007 by Prince Charles.

Andrew Nelstrop, managing director, recently took the product to Paris for the Whisky Live show and came back heartened by the response.

"This is a spectacular event, again our first ever whisky show," Nelstrop wrote on his company's website, "and one that I was very proud to be a part of, although a little scary watching a whisky buff taste whisky older than myself on the neighbouring stand and then head over to our stand to taste 18-month old spirit.

"With enormous relief, not one person showed disdain. Given the French are normally not shy in showing their disapproval, I have declared the show a roaring success!".

St George's, which has cost £2.4m to produce so far, uses barley from East Anglia and water from the Breckland aquifer, through a 160ft borehole in the garden. The company plans to produce between 150,000 and 200,000 bottles a year, holding back about 1,000 barrels for 20-year-old whisky.

The whisky is being shipped to Japan, Singapore, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. Next year, the company hopes to crack the US market and Hong Kong.

The Scotch whisky business is not quaking yet. As the Scotch Whisky Association pointed out, there are 109 distilleries in Scotland, one in Wales, one in Northern Ireland, and one in England. Scotch outsells the next largest whisky category (US) by more than three times worldwide.

"It is testament to the global success of Scotch that other countries are also looking to make whisky and we welcome our Norfolk friends to the world whisky family," said a spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association.

Article Courtesy of The Guardian

The Guardian

10 Dec

Whisky galore will be up for grabs

Almost 400 lots to be sold at auction

A NORTH-EAST auction centre will be this weekend’s setting for a whisky galore sale, with almost 400 lots going under the hammer.

Saturday’s 11am auction at the Thainstone Centre, near Inverurie, is expected to attract brisk bidding.

The Thainstone specialist auctions event annually attracts interest from connoisseurs and collectors from around the country, with local people looking for a special New Year celebration dram.

As usual the sale will feature whiskies from almost every distillery in Scotland.

Among the collectable items on offer will be an unboxed, but listed as very old, bottle of John Thompson, to number five in a limited edition of only 200 bottles of special Armistice Day whisky.

Bells decanters to be sold will include royal commemoratives celebrating events from the births of Prince William and Princess Eugenie and the late Queen Mother’s 100th year to the Queen’s golden wedding. Among the final lots of the seasonal sale will be a series of Bells Christmas decanters dating from the 1980s into the present century.

The collectable and limited-edition Scotch whisky items will on view from 9am on the day of the sale. A big turnout is expected at the auction, while enthusiasts from throughout the UK and overseas will be able to bid online through the centre’s eBid@liveauction site.

Staff at Glen Dronach Distillery at Forgue, near Huntly, are celebrating two awards for its 15-year-old Revival single malt.

The north-east whisky was voted best single malt whisky of the year at the annual Dutch Whisky Awards from a line-up of 300 whiskies.

It has also taken a top accolade in this year’s Malt Maniacs Awards, an annual web-based international competition.

Revival is matured in sherry casks to produce a distinctive full-bodied flavour.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

09 Dec

Rise in number of Scotch whisky exports

Shipments increase but value drops as customers opt for cheaper brands

SHIPMENTS of Scotch whisky abroad are up despite the recession, according to industry figures.

Exports grew by 1.5% in the first nine months of this year, accounting for more than 807million bottles.

The value was down 3.5% to £2.11billion on the same period last year, which was an industry record, but was still the second best performance to the end of September.

The reduction of about £80million was blamed on drinkers switching to cheaper brands.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) reported that, despite weak economic conditions and a reduction in stocks, which hit exports in the first quarter of the year, the industry was confident of future growth as international conditions improve.

SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt said the industry was looking forward to a good last quarter of the year now that the Christmas and New Year period was in full swing.

“Distillers have been resilient through the recession, investing for future opportunities and underscoring Scotch whisky’s increasing importance to the domestic economy,” he said.

“Scotch whisky exports, which already represent 20% of Scotland’s manufactured exports, are showing the way in bringing the Scottish economy out of recession.”

The SWA said the international spread of exports helped mitigate the impact of weaker economic conditions in certain countries. Within the top 10 markets the value of exports increased in France, South Africa and Venezuela, but was down in the US, Spain and South Korea.

The UK market continued to struggle with releases from bond down 11%.

The SWA said this raised questions over plans for minimum pricing of alcohol in Scotland.

It pointed to “negative impact” of trade barriers being introduced against whisky overseas if a precedent is set with minimum pricing at home.

The export figures were announced as the SWA held a reception at Dover House, the Scotland Office HQ at Westminster last night.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “This is another impressive performance from the Scotch whisky industry and I congratulate everyone involved for generating such high sales during a global recession.

“It’s greatly encouraging that the sector is continuing to punch above its weight on the international stage.”

Liberal Democrat MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross Jamie Stone said whisky’s success in bucking the recession could be undermined if the SNP get their way on minimum pricing.

“The slightly cheaper brands, which have been flourishing during this recession, would be hit hardest by these proposals,” he said.

“This argument has been put to me by the likes of Whyte and Mackay who own the Invergordon Distillery in my constituency, which provides vital jobs in a remote part of Scotland.”

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

07 Dec

Merchants make their Choice

Award-winning Glengoyne Distillery has challenged some of Scotland’s best known and highly respected independent whisky retailers to select a rare limited edition single cask from the Glengoyne warehouses that they would be proud to name The Scottish Merchants’ Choice.

Taking place in Glengoyne distillery’s state-of-the-art Blending Room, the group of six whisky connoisseurs nosed, sampled and debated a wide range of Glengoyne’s finest malts before collectively selecting a 12 Years Old, Sherry HHD cask 57.8% vol. to have the honorary title of The Scottish Merchants’ Choice.

Not only tasked with selecting this exceptional single cask, the merchants’ had to unanimously agree on all of the Merchants’ Choice values, from the bottle, packaging and label design and wording, to its name and tasting notes.

With a great first impression of butterscotch, cloves, leather, spice and Seville oranges, the nose of the Scottish Merchants’ Choice is described as fabulously balanced with an underlay of chocolate. An elegantly rich and fresh palate with sundried fruits, pears and a hint of pepper that plays nicely to the finish.

Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, brand owners of Glengoyne commented: “These fine gentlemen are the experts and the critics. It is their job and passion to know and understand Scottish malt whisky better than anyone else. We are delighted to have been able to give them the opportunity to showcase their expertise and skill in choosing the perfect dram.

“We have already had enquires from some of our English independent whisky retailers as to when they will get the chance to make their Merchants’ Choice. I think a bit of healthy North-South rivalry has some great potential.”

Just 284 bottles of this limited edition bottling are now available (just in time for Christmas), from the six selection panel whisky specialists (see below), with an RRP of £99.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

04 Dec

Ballantine's launches whisky bottle that flashes to the music beat

Pernod Ricard-owned blended Scotch whisky brand is launching a bottle that flashes like a graphic equaliser in time to the music.

Designed by London-based packaging agency The Core, the Ballantine's Finest self-illuminating bottle, which can be powered by batteries or mains, is only available to the on-trade.

The bottle design is modelled on a graphic equaliser, the dark blue spray coated bottle appears to react to the tonal quality of audio passing through it, by lighting up intermittently to achieve back-of-bar standout.

The working bottle forms part of an on-trade campaign for Ballantine's Finest, entitled ‘Listen to Your Beat'. Rolling out across bars and nightclubs in the UK and other markets, the campaign is based on the idea that ‘by listening to your own beat and following your own instincts, you will make choices that leave an impression on others.'

Global marketing director for Ballantine's, Peter Moore, said "The ‘Listen to Your Beat' campaign will energise our on-trade accounts by engaging consumers in a creative and eye catching manner."

Article Courtesy of Marketing Magazine

Marketing Magazine

02 Dec

Another 'Unfiltered' Success for The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Glasses were raised at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society this week as it added yet another trophy to its long list of accolades, scooping the Periodical Publishers Association Scotland (PPA) award for Best Magazine Design: Business & Professional.

The award went to the Society's internationally renowned members' magazine 'Unfiltered', and was presented at a gala evening held in Edinburgh. The event was hosted by BBC Scotland's Cathy MacDonald and was attended by a sell-out audience of almost 400 leading figures from the Scottish magazine industry.

Kai Ivalo, sales and marketing director of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, comments: "We are thrilled to have won. While we already know how much hard work goes into creating a wonderful magazine, it's fantastic to hear that other people believe the same.

"As one of the many ways in which we engage with our members, Unfiltered represents the quality that the Society has to offer malt whisky lovers."

Alan Ramsay, deputy managing director of Connect Communications, which publishes Unfiltered, said: "Unfiltered's success is a real feather in the cap for our head of design Renny Hutchison, project manager Jim Byers and everyone who contributes to the magazine editorially and creatively."

Unfiltered provides the Society's 26,000 members worldwide with an entertaining insight into the world of whisky, with recommendations on the finest drams and curious stories on all things malt.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

01 Dec

Recession continues to hit Speymalt

Elgin whisky group predicts profits may fall to about £650,000 in current year

The worldwide recession is continuing to hit profits at Speymalt Whisky Distributors.

The firm, which trades as Elgin-based Gordon and MacPhail and owns Benromach distillery at Forres, said yesterday that pre-tax profits for the year to February 2009 were just under £698,000.

This compared with £1.349million for the previous 12 months, however, the latest profits were affected by more than £272,000 of repairs to the stonework of the company's retail premises in South Street, Elgin, built in 1895.

Turnover in the past financial year was down 4.1% to £15.822million, with sales in the UK and export markets both down.

Joint managing director Michael Urquhart said yesterday that the impact of the recession may lead to profits dropping again to about £650,000 in the current financial year.

He added: "Hopefully, the world will be out of recession in the next couple of years, but we are not out of the woods yet as current financial events in Dubai show."

On a brighter note, Mr Urquhart said sales of Benromach had risen by 13% during the last financial year.

Turnover in the current financial year is also expected to rise to about £17.5million.

He said: "Despite a slight drop in overall sales, the company has continued to invest in stocks of new spirit, both in distillation at Benromach and the purchase of new spirit from other distilleries. Investment in the Benromach brand continued."

Mr Urquhart said Benromach 10-year-old, launched in September, had been well received by all sectors of the trade.

Benromach is now exported to 35 countries.

Mr Urquhart said the company was delighted to be awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category in April in recognition of a 94% increase in overseas sales in the previous five years.

He added: "Trading in the new financial year has been very buoyant in the UK, with sales increasing 30%, due in part to the excellent tourist season in Scotland and the company's wine and spirit distribution division winning a number of new contracts including one to supply the Nicolas chain of wine and spirit outlets in the UK with all their spirits."

Speymalt employed an average of 129 people during the last financial year.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal
November 2009 Scotch Whisky News

29 Nov

Rye beats Scotch to title of world's best whisky

An American rye has been voted the world's top whisky, knocking Scotch off its long-held top spot.

The 2010 edition of the Whisky Bible has voted Sazerac Rye from Kentucky the world's finest dram, ahead of last year's winner, Ardbeg, an Islay malt.

In a further blow to the Scotch whisky industry, an Indian single malt has made it into the top three for the first time. The elevation of Amrut Fusion, produced in Bangalore, signals the emergence of whiskies from previously unheralded countries of origin as a growing threat to the dominance of Scottish brands in the global market.

Jim Murray, who publishes the annual whisky guide, which is regarded by connoisseurs as the most authoritative, accused some industry figures of being complacent in the face of stiffening competition from abroad.

Earlier this year, a Japanese single malt and a blended whisky lifted awards in an annual competition run by Whisky Magazine.

"There is still a sneering attitude in some quarters that, if it is not made in Scotland, then somehow it is not proper whisky," said Murray. "I don't think the Scots have a lot to be complacent about at the moment in terms of whisky.

"There are some very, very poor casks of Scotch whisky in circulation just now.

"While the best is still exceptional, there is a lot of Scotch whisky out there which is really not good at all."

Murray awarded the Indian single malt 97 points out of a possible 100 and declared it "whisky genius".

"Hopefully the arrival of Indian whisky will act as a wake-up call for the Scotch whisky industry. If these guys in Bangalore can produce exceptional, world-class whisky, why can't Scottish distillers who have been around for 100 years or more?

"Very often, the answer is that distilleries don't take a huge amount of bother in choosing the casks they use and it has become a numbers game for them."

Whiskies produced by Ardbeg have dominated the top spot for the past three years. Rob Allanson, editor of Whisky Magazine, said Scots had to come to terms with no longer being undisputed masters of the whisky trade.

"There are some truly phenomenal non-Scottish whiskies out there just now," he said. "Some whiskies, especially those being produced in oak casks in Japan, are incredible and completely beyond anything that is produced in Scotland."

Allanson suggested a surge in the price of materials in recent years may have affected the quality of native brands.

"Because of this, maybe some distillers weren't as scrupulous when they were buying casks. We are now starting to see some of those casks coming into the market.

"You can always learn lessons from others, but the smaller Scotch whisky companies are still punching well above their weight."

Ian Hudghton, the Nationalist member of the European parliament who led a campaign to gain "protected" status for Scotch whisky, said most consumers still regarded Scottish-produced brands as the best in the world.

"The international market is the ultimate test and it shows that, if anything, the desire for genuine whisky made in Scotland is stronger than ever."

A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: "Landmark regulations to protect and promote Scotch whisky show Scottish distillers are continuing to maintain the highest standards in every aspect of the production process."

Ashok Chokalingam, Amrut's international sales manager, said the first consignment of Fusion sold out within weeks of its arrival in June.

The firm is planning to introduce two more whiskies to the British market next year.

Article Courtesy of The Times

The Times

27 Nov

Alexandria whisky plant forced to relabel bottles over new ruling

A WHISKY plant boss has spoken of his two-year battle over new regulations which will "devalue" the firm's blended whisky.

Loch Lomond Distillery faces threats because of new government rules defining how traditional malt whisky is made.

John Peterson, distilling director of Loch Lomond Distillery, says the rules are "unnecessary" and damning on the green factory.

The Alexandria plant has been implementing innovative distillation methods in a bid to be environmentally-friendly for the last two years, and bosses say they have already smashed government climate targets.

But the company face a hazy future because their malt whisky can no longer be called by this name.

Under the new definition of Scotch malt whisky, which came into force on Monday, a true malt is classed as this if it is made in old-fashioned pot stills.

Instead the factory produce an environmentally-friendly malt mash in a single still.

Mr Peterson continued: "I've been trying to get our views across to the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) and to local MPs for the past two years and nobody is prepared to listen.

"We are being treated unfairly and I think these regulations are unnecessary."

He said the factory will carry on as normal and confirmed that no jobs will be affected – but it will be forced to relabel its bottles.

"The SWA want us to call it grain whisky but this is misleading because it's not grain whisky. Our stock will be devalued.

"We are trying to be innovative and environmentally-friendly, and instead we are being penalised for it. It's nonsensical."

A spokesman for SWA, which has been helping to draw up the amendments to the Scotch Whisky Order 1990, said: "Loch Lomond Distillery's practice of producing a malt mash in a single still is not traditional. A single malt scotch whisky now has to be made according to traditional processes and that involves the use of pot stills.

"It will protect Scotch whisky from fake products around the world and the new regulations will ensure that consumers get clear and consistent information.

Article Courtesy of Lennox Herald

Lennox Herald

22 Nov

Scotch whisky protected against 'inferior' copies

New guidelines to protect whisky from foreign imitation, including new rules on labelling and bottling, are coming into force in Scotland on Monday.

There will be a new requirement to only bottle Single Malts in Scotland, and tighter rules on the use of distillery names on bottle labels.

There will also be better protection of traditional regional names such as "Highland" and "Lowland".

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) described it as "landmark legislation".

The regulations have been drawn up by the UK government.

Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy said: "It is vital that we protect our key industries. We cannot allow others to trade off our good name and to pass off inferior whisky as being produced in Scotland.

"These regulations will help protect whisky customers across the globe.

"New labelling rules will also mean that customers will have a clearer understanding about precisely where and how their drink has been produced. This will enhance the education of many whisky drinkers as well as their enjoyment."

SWA Chief Executive, Gavin Hewitt said: "This is landmark legislation for Scotch Whisky delivering important benefits for consumers, distillers, and the economy.

"Additional protection, including the requirement to bottle Single Malt Scotch Whisky in Scotland, helps safeguard Scotch from unfair and deceptive practices; the new labelling rules provide a unique opportunity to promote consumer understanding of Scotch worldwide.

"These regulations have the strong backing of the Scotch Whisky industry."

Regulation details

Some of the details of the new legislation include:

  • Five categories of Scotch Whisky are defined for the first time; Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Single Grain Scotch Whisky, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, Blended Grain Scotch Whisky, and Blended Scotch Whisky.
  • These compulsory category sales terms will be required to appear clearly and prominently on all labels.
  • A requirement to only bottle Single Malt Scotch Whisky in Scotland.
  • New rules to prevent the misleading labelling and marketing of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.
  • A ban on the use of the term "Pure Malt".
  • A ban on the use of a distillery name as a brand name on any Scotch Whisky which has not been wholly distilled in the named distillery.
  • Protection of five traditional whisky regions of production; Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay, and Campbeltown.
  • A requirement that Scotch Whisky must be wholly matured in Scotland.
  • Clear rules on the use of age statements on packaging.
  • Designation of HM Customs & Excise as the verification authority for Scotch Whisky.


Article Courtesy of BBCi


21 Nov

Whisky distillery mothballed as downturn bites

Tamdhu, the 112-year-old Speyside whisky distillery whose malt is a major component of Famous Grouse, is to be mothballed as part of its owner Edrington Group's strategy to combat the impact of tough economic times on its brands.

Whisky-maker Edrington, which has its headquarters on Great Western Road in Glasgow, said the "restructuring follows a decision... to rebalance its malt whisky production levels in direct response to the global economic recession, which has affected all of the Scotch whisky industry".

The company said that as part of the restructuring, 31 jobs would be cut across five sites - Macallan and Glenrothes distilleries on Speyside, Highland Park in Orkney, its Buchley warehouse in Bishopbriggs, as well as Tamdhu.

The company said it was currently consulting with the employees who would be affected by the proposals, and that it hoped "any job losses required could be achieved through voluntary measures".

Meanwhile, the Tamdhu distillery - which is situated in the town of Knockando, Banffshire, and joined the Edrington stable with the group's £601 million takeover of Highland Distillers in 1999 - is to be put on a "care and maintenance" basis, along with its malting operation, the company said yesterday.

Tamdhu is the only distillery in Speyside to malt all its own barley on the premises.

The last distilleries to be mothballed were Springbank and Glengyle distilleries in the once-famous whisky-making area of Campbeltown, as the rocketing cost of fuel, transport and barley had forced its owners, J&A Mitchell, to call a halt to distillation of spirit for a period of up to two years, in the hope that the cost of the raw materials used to make whisky will eventually fall and allow the company to start distilling again.

Asked about the impact of Tamdhu's closure on essence and taste of Famous Grouse, the spokesman said: "Famous Grouse is made from a secret recipe, and there are many different constituents that go into it. We have a range of other malt whiskies and they will be sufficient for our blended products."

Tamdhu's traditional single-malt bottling does not mention its age, but a recent addition to its product line included a 10-year-old distillery bottling.

Edrington said that the proposed changes, which are scheduled to come in to effect in April next year, would see production concentrated at its three core distilleries - Macallan and Glenrothes in Speyside and Highland Park on Orkney.

Earlier this year, Ian Curle, Edrington's chief executive, said while announcing the group's annual results that there had been a softening of demand in a number of main markets because of the global economic slowdown.

The company also went on to say that this would affect the group's growth ambitions in the short term.

Article Courtesy of The Scottish Herald

The Scottish Herald

20 Nov

Whisky body backs safe drinking

A responsible drinking message is to be included in all future adverts and printed point of sale materials for Scotch whisky, it has been announced.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is imposing the measure to help discourage the misuse of alcohol and help tackle Scotland's problem drinking culture.

The responsible drink plea will be seen across the EU.

The SWA also supported most of the Scottish Alcohol Bill, but put forward an alternative minimum pricing plan.

The body proposed that a ban on alcohol sales below tax (duty and VAT) to prevent loss-leading would be an alternative and better floor price mechanism than the Scottish Government's minimum price proposal.

Gavin Hewitt, the SWA's Chief Executive, said: "Scotch Whisky distillers are determined to tackle alcohol misuse and support much of what is likely to be in the forthcoming Scottish Government's Alcohol Bill.

"An even tougher SWA Code of Practice - with a responsible drinking message in every Scotch Whisky advert - complements the wide range of initiatives backed by the industry.

"The Code continues to be well used by SWA members seeking advice on how to ensure compliance with its provisions. It is a good example of how self-regulation can be an effective mechanism as we work to change cultural attitudes to the misuse of alcohol."

Mr Hewitt added: "We also believe a floor price mechanism to tackle loss-leading could be introduced in the form of a ban on alcohol sales below tax. This would be a better way forward than an illegal mechanism such as minimum pricing."

Article Courtesy of BBCi


19 Nov

Dalmore Oculus whisky fetches £23,000 at auction

A unique whisky created from blends spanning 140 years has sold at auction for more than £22,000.

The Dalmore Oculus beat its estimated price of between £15,000 and £20,000 with a hammer price of £23,000. With the buyer's premium the lot cost £27,600.

It was part of 3000 lots which went for £211,518, including buyer's premium, at the whisky sale at Bonhams in Edinburgh.

Bonhams said the price paid for the Dalmore Oculus was the highest price ever paid for a bottle of Dalmore at auction and the buyer wished to remain anonymous.

Speaking after the sale, Martin Green, whisky specialist at Bonhams, said: "There was a fantastic atmosphere in the sale room today and the auction has far exceeded our expectations.

"The Dalmore Oculus reached a fantastic sale price, especially in view of the current economic climate."

The Dalmore Oculus was created by Whyte & Mackay's master distiller Richard Paterson, who combined a rich, spicy orange zest core from cask 1781, distilled in 1951, and trace elements of the taste and smell of dried fruits, ripe bananas, toffee and almonds from an original fifty-year-old.

Rare malts were also selected from vintages distilled in 1868, 1878, 1922, 1926 and 1939.

An "incredibly intense oak, spice and bitter dark chocolate" long matured distillate from cask 1782 was added to the mix alongside the whisky's "capstone" - a "judicious amount of the revered 64-year-old" with aromatic spices and citrus zest.

Mr Paterson said: "The Dalmore Oculus is a truly exceptional expression and we knew demand would be incredibly high today.

"The sale price reflects the quality and uniqueness of the whisky and the bidder has most certainly invested in something truly magnificent that they can treasure."

Article Courtesy of The Scottish Herald

The Scottish Herald

18 Nov

Crackdown on Scotch whisky producers

Regulations tightened up from next week

Regulations protecting Scotch whisky producers are set to be to be tightened next week.

Under new measures the bottling of single malt outside Scotland will be banned while labelling is to become clearer for customers.

Use of the word 'Pure' will be banned because the term 'Pure Blend' is used to disguise the fact that the product is a blend of malts rather than a superior Single Malt.

HM Revenue & Customs will enforce the rules, which come into force next Monday (November 23). The regulations are aimed at protecting the Scotch whisky brand - particularly from imitations brewed overseas.

There will also be a tightening up of the use of distillery and regional names.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said: "The Government has worked closely with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) on these regulations which introduce a stronger legal framework to protect one of our most cherished products.

"It is vital that we protect our key industries. We cannot allow others to trade off our good name and to pass off inferior whisky as being produced in Scotland. These regulations will help protect whisky customers across the globe."

Article Courtesy of The Publican

The Publican

17 Nov

Spirit of adventure for Highland distillery making gin

Scottish product contains locally-grown plants

A HIGHLAND distillery that has produced fine whisky for years now has another string to its bow.

Balmenach Distillery near Cromdale in Speyside is now also turning out gallons of gin, a spirit more usually associated with being made south of the border.

The Balmenach gin is very much a Scottish product, to the extent that it has a Gaelic name and even uses plants grown locally including rowan berries, heather, bog myrtle, dandelion and coul blush apple.

A novel copper berry chamber, made in the 1920s, has been transformed by gin aficionado Simon Buley, one of the distillers at Balmenach, to create a premium Scottish gin called Caorunn - Gaelic for rowan berry - with the vapours of the grain spirit becoming infused with the flavours of the "botanicals".

Mr Buley had toyed with the idea of making a truly Scottish gin at the working malt whisky distillery using the ancient skills and recipes to harness the Highland water and the age-old Celtic botanicals that grow in the surrounding hills.

He said: "Our gin is made of pure Scottish Highland water, six traditional and five Celtic botanicals, and is infused in a copper berry chamber. We use traditional methods and it is a very hands-on process using our eyes, taste and expertise to ensure a quality product."

He said the advantages of making gin were that it did not have to be aged for years like whisky, and can be consumed virtually straight from the chamber.

The gin has been launched in Scotland and England and has already had a gold award in the super premium category of the Gin Masters 2009.

Marketing manager Iby Bakos said they were building up a distribution network and would be hosting Christmas promotions in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Balmenach Distillery is part of Inver House Distillers Ltd.

A team of New Zealanders will drill on the frozen continent for vintage Scotch. They will try to free bottles from two crates of McKinlay and Co whisky which were shipped there by British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton as part of his abandoned 1909 expedition.

Whyte & Mackay, which now owns McKinlay and Co, wants a sample of the 100-year-old Scotch for a series of experiments. New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust will use special drills to reach the crates, caught in ice under the Nimrod Expedition hut near Cape Royds.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

17 Nov

Whisky meeting bosses raise a glass to Glasgow

GLASGOW is to become the toast of the global whisky industry.

The golden dram's movers and shakers are to jet in to the city next year to plot sales growth at the prestigious World Whiskies Conference.

It's a major event for the sector's decision makers which will include managing directors, chief executive officers and finance directors of some of the top distilleries from Scotland to India and from America to Japan.

Up to 120 delegates are expected to fly into Glasgow to attend the two-day event at the Radisson Hotel in April - many more than last year's event in London which conference director Ian Buxton admits was disastrous.

He said: "We were in the middle of an economic downturn and everyone was talking as though the world was coming to an end. We only had 80 delegates.

"But now the optimism has returned and that is likely to be reflected in the numbers who will attend. We expect between 100 and 120 delegates. We're getting a very good response.

"We held our conference in Glasgow two years ago. Everyone was impressed with the city. It's got good facilities and everyone's looking forward to returning in April."

The Radisson in Argyle Street was also the 2007 venue. Billed as the sector's "global summit," it's said to be an ideal way for industry chiefs and their suppliers to work together to meet sales, marketing and production challenges in an attempt to grow whisky sales.

Scotch Whisky Association officials are raising their glasses to the return to the city. A spokesman said: "Glasgow has a long and proud connection to the Scotch Whisky industry. It is the perfect place for a gathering of the world whisky community."

Distillery bosses at Glasgow-based Edrington, producers of Famous Grouse, reckon the city has stolen a march on conference centre rivals. A spokesman said: "It is a tremendous coup for Glasgow to attract a conference of this calibre.

"The event is bound to attract a high quality audience and provide spin-off benefits and provide a shop window for Glasgow to sell itself to the rest of the world."

Scott Taylor, chief executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: "Glasgow produces more Scotch whisky than anywhere else in the world and it is fitting the World Whiskies Conference returns to its homeland."

Article Courtesy of Evening Times

Evening Times

16 Nov

Shackleton's whisky to be dug up

Two crates of Scotch whisky which belonged to the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton are to be recovered after a century buried in the Antarctic ice.

The McKinlay and Co whisky was found buried under a hut built and used during Shackleton's unsuccessful South Pole expedition between 1907 and 1909.

The crates, which are encased in ice, were first found three years ago.

New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust plans to use special cutting tools to remove the crates from the ice.

The crates and bottles are expected to undergo conservation work in New Zealand before being returned to the remote hut at Cape Royds, which the trust is trying to restore to the same condition as when Shackleton's team left it.

I personally think they must have been left there by mistake, because it's hard to believe two crates would have been left under the hut without drinking them

Trust spokesman Al Fastier said he would not be tempted to sample the Scotch, saying he preferred to allow the century-old spirits to retain their mystique.

"It would be terrible to sample it and find that it was off," he told Radio New Zealand.

Distillers Whyte and Mackay, which owns the McKinlay brand, are keen to get hold of a bottle, or at least a sample of the now-extinct blend.

The company's master blender Richard Paterson said: "We might even get enough to be able to take a stab at recreating it."

Shackleton's expedition ran short of supplies on its long trek to the South Pole from Cape Royds.

They eventually fell about 100 miles (160 kilometres) short of their goal, although one team did reach the magnetic South Pole and the expedition carried out valuable scientific work.

No lives were lost, vindicating Shackleton's decision to turn back from the pole, which was first reached in 1911 by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.

Shackleton later said to his wife: "A live donkey is better than a dead lion, isn't it?"

The expedition's ship left Cape Royds hurriedly in March 1909 as winter ice began forming in the sea, with some equipment and supplies, including the whisky, left behind.

"I personally think they must have been left there by mistake, because it's hard to believe two crates would have been left under the hut without drinking them," Mr Fastier said.

Article Courtesy of BBCi


12 Nov

Smokehead takes the Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards by storm

Style icon of the whisky world, Smokehead was the drink of choice at the fifth Classic Rock Roll Of Honour awards gala ceremony, which took place on Monday 2 November at the Park Lane Hotel, London.

"Smoke and Coke" was the star of the show along with rock superstars such as Iggy Pop, who was named 'Living Legend', and Ronnie Wood, who was presented with the 'Outstanding Contribution' award. Other winners sampling Smokehead on the evening included Band of the Year, Iron Maiden and Album of the Year winners, AC/DC.

Aimed at the modern, discerning and adventurous drinker, like the music, Smokehead is powerful, intense and not for the faint hearted. Guests sampled the whisky's immense peaty flavours simply with a drop of water, over ice or in a classic combination - "Smoke and Coke".

Classic Rock Magazine's Editor in Chief Scott Rowley said, "It was amazing to see a contemporary Scottish whisky go down so well with our international rock idols."

Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, Smokehead's brand owners commented: "It was fantastic how well Smokehead was received by the living legends of rock. The stylish and edgy personality of the whisky combined with powerful smokey flavours is perfectly suited for the heavy hitters of rock music."

Described as being like a cannonball, Smokehead is an explosive combination of peat, smoke and spice with some delicate sweetness. The single malt flavour is described as fresh, fruity and immense, with notes of sherry, iodine, toffee, smoke and sea salt. The taste hits the palate at once with cocoa, peat and some honey sweetness, before exploding with peppery spice and more earthy peat.

Smokehead is widely available throughout the UK and worldwide, RRP £29.99. Details of all stockists, including Sainsbury's can be found on the website

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

11 Nov

Glendronach acquisition puts BenRiach in the red

Distiller makes £1.88m loss after deal incurs impairment charge

BenRiach Distillery Company slumped into the red following a major acquisition by the whisky firm during 2008, it emerged yesterday.

Accounts from Companies House revealed BenRiach made pre-tax losses of £1.88million last year, against profits of £1.95million in 2007. But the 2008 figures were severely impacted by a £5.53million impairment charge against the value of goodwill at Glendronach, which is at Forgue, near Huntly. Had it not been for this exceptional cost affecting the balance sheet, Larbert-based BenRiach would have made further profits.

BenRiach was formed through the 2004 acquisition - from French drinks giant Pernod Ricard - of the previously mothballed BenRiach Distillery, near Elgin. The buyers were Billy Walker, who is now BenRiach's managing director, and two South African businessmen.

Glendronach was acquired from Chivas Brothers - Pernod's Scotch whisky subsidiary - in the autumn of 2008 in a deal believed to be worth £30million.

In September, Mr Walker revealed BenRiach was to pour £7million into restoring the Glendronach brand.

He said he wanted to re-establish Glendronach to its status of 40 years ago, when it was among the five most popular malts in the world.

BenRiach is investing £5million in sherry casks over four years and a further £2million on brand promotion and extra staff to boost the "sleeping giant". By 2014, the company hopes to be selling some 250,000 bottles of Glendronach annually.

But the plans for developing the business have recently been hit by floods.

Earlier this month, Mr Walker said he felt he was "pouring money down the drain" after the visitor centre and offices at Glendronach flooded for the second time in three months.

BenRiach's 2008 accounts showed turnover of £12.08million, against £8.13million a year earlier. The firm's net debt at the end of last year was £15.76million, up from £3.4million at the end of 2007.

A report from the directors said continued investment in BenRiach's products, with "particular emphasis on quality and employing people with the relevant experience", would help the company to improve its market position.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

10 Nov

Maxxium UK launches Teacher's School of Whisky campaign

Maxxium UK announces details of its Teacher's School of Whisky campaign, including the creation of a comprehensive guide to blended Scotch, a national advertising campaign and consumer master classes.

Designed to inform consumers about blended Scotch whisky and to highlight the exceptional quality and craftsmanship of Teacher's, The Dram Good Whisky Guide will be distributed with The Independent newspaper in November.

The guide includes information on Teacher's heritage, tasting notes and serve suggestions, with contributions from master blender, Robert Hicks, descendent of William Teacher, William Burguis and whisky specialist, Dominic Roskrow.

A series of Teacher's press advertorials, created to raise the awareness of the quality of blends will appear in lifestyle magazines such as Top Gear, Golf World, Car Magazine and Readers Digest in the run up to Christmas.

Teacher's master classes will be hosted in November in Kent, Shropshire and Manchester, with tickets available via local newspapers. The events will be hosted by Robert Hicks, who will explain the role of Teacher's in the history of Scotch whisky over the last 175 years, inspire participants on how to enjoy blended Scotch and lead them through a tasting.

Article Courtesy of Talking Retail

Talking Retail

10 Nov

Whisky workers to continue fight

The chief executive of Diageo was met with angry workers at the Johnnie Walker whisky plant in Kimarnock who say they would continue to fight to keep it open.

Unite union members issued the warning after Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh and managing director David Gosnell visited the Kilmarnock and Port Dundas plants on November 9, to outline reasons for the proposed closure.

Unite also accused the firm of threatening them with a lesser severance package if they continued the campaign.

Article Courtesy of Harpers


09 Nov

The Famous Grouse launch the famous St Andrew's day celebrations

The Famous Grouse, Scotland's favourite whisky, has announced further details of activity in the run up to St Andrew's Day, which will encourage Scots to observe their national saint's day with a proper knees-up. Forming part of the Winter Grouse Season, The Famous Grouse have invested in a support package to give the on trade all they need to create a festival atmosphere on Scotland's national day.

A major campaign of consumer engagement to persuade whisky fans to come forward and share their favourite thing about Scotland, whether it's something that makes them smile, something that makes them proud or a unique Scottish experience, is to be launched at Here users can share their favourite, upload a photo and find a local pub participating in St Andrew's Day celebrations.

Teams will be hitting Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverly train stations on the 17th and 19th November to invite commuters to join the campaign and create a photo mosaic of their suggestions in the form of a giant saltire.

From Thursday 26th through to Monday 30th November, The Famous Grouse is inviting Scots to celebrate in 860 selected outlets which will be dressed with traditional bunting, posters, table talkers, outdoor banners and flags. The top 40 top bars in key cities including; Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth, Stirling and Falkirk will feature handpicked bands which will perform in each venue over the five days to get the crowds in the spirit with a mixture of upbeat Scottish classics and modern hits.

The shindig will culminate with the much loved four piece Ceilidh band Kilter taking over Glasgow venue Òran Mór on St Andrew's Day. The band which consists of accordion, pipes and whistles, piano and drums, is a favourite at the The Famous Grouse tent at Murrayfield stadium during the six nations where they regularly play to a packed out dance floor.

All venues taking part will benefit from a dedicated PR campaign, a listing as part of a wider sponsorship package in Daily Record's St Andrew's Day supplement and online survey on

As well as POS kits and entertainment, The Famous Grouse is running a promotional mechanic offering consumers the chance to redeem a branded scarf is to encourage trial and reward loyalty.

Linda Sooprayen, Brand Manager for Maxxium UK, said: "We really want to encourage Scots to recapture the spirit of the country's national day. This provides an excellent opportunity for trade stockists to present the best aspects of Scottish hospitality and create a real sales drive over this festival period."

This activity comes on the back of the announcement of the 'Winter Grouse Season', the most comprehensive package of marketing activity yet from The Famous Grouse. Expected to be the highest investment in marketing activity within its competitive set, this package to support the trade runs not only during the vital sales period over Christmas but all the way through from November to March.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

09 Nov

Trina Glen; Accountant and whisky company director

Trina Glen (nee Arcari), who has died aged 40 following a prolonged battle with breast cancer, was a shining light in the Scotch whisky industry, serving latterly on the main board of The Edrington Group as group strategy director.

She was born in Paisley and her formative years were spent at Ralston Primary School and Paisley Grammar, before moving on to Glasgow University to complete a degree in accountancy.

As a consequence of winning the accounting prize at Glasgow, she was offered a place with the then Deloitte Haskins & Sells in 1989, where she excelled equally in training as a chartered accountant.

DH&S were to merge with Coopers & Lybrand with the happy consequence that she met David Glen, whom she married in 1993.

The life of an auditor was not for Trina and she left the firm for a brief spell with the WM Company in Edinburgh before joining The Edrington Group in 1994 as financial controller with Robertson & Baxter. She then held a number of positions within the company, including commercial director and finance director for Highland Distillers and The Macallan, before being appointed to the Edrington board in May 2008.

In a warm tribute, chief executive of The Edrington Group, Ian Curle said that "such was Trina's sheer strength of character and personality that she touched the hearts of everyone with whom she came in contact and was much admired by everyone within the business as well as our trading partners and competitors".

Glen had been a driving force in many aspects of the business and had played a major role in turning Edrington into a leading player in the international drinks industry. In particular, she had recently overseen the transition and development of the group's distribution arrangements following the restructuring at Maxxium Worldwide.

During her time as commercial director, Glen led the commercial team at Perth and oversaw the successful development of the group's business in two important export markets: Asia and America.

Mr Curle added: "Trina's intellect, enthusiasm and commitment to the business was a major driving force in the ongoing development of the group, and her appointment to the main board reflected the high esteem in which she was held.

"She will be remembered fondly as one of the group's finest ever ser­vants who was respected by colleagues, friends and competitors. She was a wonderful human being, a warm and considerate friend and she will be sadly missed."

Outside work, Glen was a keen sportswoman, particularly hockey, and enjoyed travelling the world with David, meeting friends

regularly and doting on her nephews and niece.

First diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34, she faced many personal battles over the next six and a half years with such dignity and positive outlook that at times it was hard to believe she was ill.

Self-pity was not for her and she would say: "Where there is hope we all have a duty to be hopeful."

Her passionate belief in the need to maintain and support a positive mental attitude led her to found The Living Trust, a charity committed to funding projects which facilitate cancer patients continuing to lead normal lives. Such an action was typical of Glen: thinking of others before herself and using her own experiences to benefit others.

Granted her final wish, she died peacefully at home with David by her side.

As well as her husband, Trina is survived by her mother, Margaret, and sister, Sharon.

Article Courtesy of The Scottish Herald

The Scottish Herald

06 Nov

Whisky industry faces rule change

New rules outlawing the bottling of single malt whiskies outside Scotland are to be introduced as part of a drive to protect the industry and consumers.

They are part of a number of regulations which were announced by Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy.

The changes, which will come into force on 23 November, will also ban the use of the term "pure malt" and introduce improved labelling of products.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) called it landmark legislation.

Speaking at a Scotland Office food and drink seminar in Edinburgh, Mr Murphy said the regulations introduced "a stronger legal framework to protect one of our most cherished products".

He added: "It is vital that we protect our key industries.

"We cannot allow others to trade off our good name and to pass off inferior whisky as being produced in Scotland. These regulations will help protect whisky customers across the globe."

Welcoming the regulations, SWA chief executive, Gavin Hewitt, said: "This is landmark legislation for Scotch Whisky delivering important benefits for consumers, distillers, and the economy.

"Additional protection, including the requirement to bottle single malt Scotch whisky in Scotland, helps safeguard Scotch from unfair and deceptive practices.

"The new labelling rules provide a unique opportunity to promote consumer understanding of Scotch worldwide."

Five years ago, drinks giant Diageo withdrew a whisky brand which was at the centre of a row over the definition of "pure malt".

Its Cardhu Pure Malt, which was a mix of whiskies from more than one distillery, was taken off the market amid concerns that the use of the term "pure" was imprecise and could confuse consumers.

Article Courtesy of BBCi


05 Nov

Colin Montgomerie and Gavin Hastings visit Glengoyne Distillery

Colin Montgomerie and Gavin Hastings visited Glengoyne Distillery this week as they set out on a charity walk along the West Highland Way.

The sporting stars, who are walking the famous route along with 30 Malmaison and Hotel Du Vin employees, stopped off at Glengoyne, Scotland's Most Beautiful Distillery, for a warming dram of Glengoyne Highland Single Malt Scotch whisky.

Hotel groups Malmaison and Hotel Du Vin organised the walk to raise money for The Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation which provides practical and emotional support to people affected by cancer. The team of staff from around the UK are aiming to help raise £100,000 by walking the 94 mile road in five days.

The team at Glengoyne Distillery presented Colin Montgomerie with a personalised bottle of Glengoyne 10 Years Old, displaying The Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation logo and a special commemorative message on the label. Colin personally signed the special bottle to be auctioned to help raise even more money for the Foundation.

Glengoyne Distillery's Marketing Manager, Sarah Bottomley said: "We are delighted to help such an important cause in any way we can. We wish the team the best of luck and hope the drams of Glengoyne will help prepare them for the tough challenge."

Glengoyne is one of Scotland's most accessible distilleries, located just 30 minutes north of Glasgow and looking out over the breath-taking Trossachs.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

05 Nov

Minimum alcohol pice plan will slash whisky exports, warn drinks chiefs

Whisky bosses fear introducing minimum prices for booze will slash exports by a fifth.

The Scottish Whisky Association claim the SNP plan will be copied in key export markets.

And they insist that will threaten the £600m-a-year whisky industry and put hundreds of jobs at risk.

MSPs are due to debate the controversial move to charge 40p per unit of alcohol in a bid to tackle booze-related health problems.

But the SWA's David Williamson last night insisted: "Minimum pricing will damage Scotch whisky at home and in our export markets, risking hundreds of jobs.

"International copycat measures against Scotch are of particular concern.

"The industry estimates that £600m in whisky exports every year - four per cent of total Scottish exports - are threatened as the proposal gives the green light to export markets to discriminate against Scotch whisky."

The SNP will need Labour's support if the plans are to succeed.

But Scots Tory deputy leader Murdo Fraser has urged Labour to reject the move.

He said: "Blanket minimum pricing is probably illegal, penalises responsible drinkers, damages the Scotch whisky industry and does nothing to tackle the root of the problem."

Article Courtesy of Daily Record

Daily Record

04 Nov

Glenfiddich launches digital campaign to find brand ambassador in China

SHANGHAI - McCann Worldgroup's boutique agency Can Create is hunting for a brand ambassador for Scottish whisky label Glenfiddich in China and has launched a minisite on a mainland recruitment domain to find its match.

Drawing inspiration from the Queensland state government's 'Best job in the world'' campaign, Can Create has created a minisite for Glenfiddich on to recruit an ambassador who is passionate about whiskey.

The search will continue over the next two months, with Can Create banking on community forums, blogs and PR events to popularise the campaign.

According to the agency, Glenfiddich's target customers in China are "sophisticated, white-collar men in tier-one cities".

The McCann Worldgroup agency was awarded Glenfiddich's business in September following a credentials pitch that included several undisclosed agencies. Its duties include the management of Glenfiddich's brand positioning, strategy, online and offline brand communications and digital marketing. It will additionally work with IPG sister company GolinHarris, which is Glenfiddich's global PR partner.

"As the client's budget is not substantial, we need to get creative in order to raise the brand's visibility in China," said Canon Wu, chief creative director of Can Create. "We don't want to use typical, traditional PR executions - like having a product-launch, PR party or getting some journalists to visit whisky refineries in Scotland."

"The brand already has ambassadors in different parts of the world, who would represent the brand to the media or take on an educational role at hotel and PR functions to share the brand's stories," Wu continued, adding that Glenfiddich is confident in its regional sales. "The client does not really worry about the sales, as there is only a limited supply of bottles each year - in fact its sales in Hong Kong and Taiwan are pretty good. People buy and enjoy the whisky at home or at piano bars."

Glenfiddich competes with whisky brands Chivas Regal and Johnny Walker in China.

Article Courtesy of Media Asia

Media Asia

03 Nov

Scramble for RAF's 50-year Royal seal whisky

TWO rare bottles of whisky, one signed by the Duke of Edinburgh and one with an accompanying letter from Prince Andrew, will fetch up to £8,000 each at auction tomorrow.

The 50-year-old bottles of single malt, the only ones of their kind, were bottled by Gordon & MacPhail to celebrate the 70th anniversary of RAF bases Kinloss and Lossiemouth this year.

Both bottles will be star attrac-tions in the world's biggest whisky auction at McTear's in Glasgow with the sale tipped to raise over £150,000 from 600 lots.

The RAF malts, distilled in 1939 and bottled in 1989, were gifted by Gordon & MacPhail to Lossie-mouth and Kinloss earlier this year and the bottles will now be up for auction in their original boxes with a booklet detailing the history of both RAF bases.

To mark the milestone the RAF bases have been running a charity fundraising drive with the sale of the malts set to boost this.

Squadron Leader Mick Letch of RAF Lossiemouth, said: "I am delighted that we were able to secure these two fantastic bottles to help us in our fundraising efforts."

Amongst the other lots at the auction are a 50-year-old Glenfiddich which could fetch between £10,000 and £15,000.

Article Courtesy of Evening Times

Evening Times

02 Nov

Scotch distiller toasts record year

William Grant and Sons makes pre-tax profits of £88.94m as sales rise by more than a fifth

Whisky distiller William Grant has reported a record year, with pre-tax profits surging more than a half on sales that were up by in excess of a fifth.

The firm, based at Dufftown on Speyside, said the best financial performance yet was driven by factors including a positive trading environment for its core brands and an improved mix for spirit sales. Accounts released by Companies House yesterday showed William Grant and Sons made pre-tax profits of £88.94million last year, against £86.16million in 2007.

Turnover during the latest period was £458.15million, compared with £392.89million previously.

A spokesman for the company, which is now led by former Bacardi marketing officer Stella David, who took over as chief executive from Roland van Bommel this summer, revealed corresponding figures for parent William Grant and Sons Holdings. Pre-tax profits at the holding company raced ahead 55% to £129.2million, with turnover climbing 21% to £598.3million.

The spokesman said 2009 had been a tougher year but Grant was confident of meeting its expectations for the 12 months.

Grant's whiskies include Clan MacGregor, Glenfiddich, Grant's and The Balvenie. Its other brands include Hendrick's gin, Reyka vodka, Sailor Jerry spiced rum, liqueur Solerno and fruit-flavour Taboo mixers.

The family-owned firm, established in 1887, said in its annual accounts that it continued to develop its core brands during 2008.

Overall cased volumes increased, which was attributed to a strong performance by the Grant's Family Reserve and Clan MacGregor whiskies as well as Hendrick's, Sailor Jerry and Milagro tequila, in which the firm has a 51% stake.

Grant added: "Glenfiddich and The Balvenie Scotch whiskies remained level, with value being emphasised ahead of volume." The firm said its Glenfiddich, Balvemie and Kininvie distilleries at Dufftown, along with grain and malt whisky operations at Girvan, Ayrshire, "met all distilling targets efficiently".

Grant, which last year employed 704 people on average, expected competition to intensify during 2009 following a slowdown in industry exports in a deteriorating economic climate in 2008.

It added: "The company will need to strengthen its efforts to maintain a strong cash flow in order to widen the portfolio."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

01 Nov

Anger at sale of English whisky

One of Scotland's most distinguished whisky retailers has received complaints from some customers about its decision to stock an English brand.

Next month, the Norfolk-based St George's Distillery will launch the first English whisky for more than a century.

Hundreds of preview bottles of the "malt spirit" have already arrived north of the border and, despite rave reviews by afficionados, some Scottish traditionalists are unimpressed.

The Edinburgh-based Royal Mile Whiskies said its promotion of the English spirit had failed to please some of its customers.

"We sent out a tongue-in-cheek e-mail bulletin, complete with a picture of a bulldog, announcing we were going to be stocking English whisky," said Arthur Motley, the firm's whisky buyer. "We got some negative feedback, mostly from American Scots, who said things like, 'how could you?' and 'you've betrayed Scotland'.

"Some people were riled but, hopefully, most of the comments were meant in a light-hearted way."

The English Whisky Company's avowedly patriotic packaging has raised eyebrows in the specialist shop, which also has an outlet in London.

It risks further straining cross-border relations by announcing plans for a "commemorative bottling" if England lift the football World Cup in South Africa next summer.

Ian Hudghton, a SNP MEP who has campaigned for the European Union to protect the term "Scotch whisky", has dismissed the Norfolk newcomer as "not the real McCoy".

John Kaylor, the chairman of the Perthshire branch of the Tartan Army, was equally sceptical. "It's flattering that the English want to copy us but what's next, Shakespeare shortbread and the Lake Windermere monster?" he said. "No true Tartan Army member would ever wet their lips with English whisky."

But Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, praised the southern newcomer.

"Even without the peat, we have a gloriously characterful new make," said his review.

"This first dedicated English distillery for over a century is likely to gain a name for exceptional quality."

The Kentucky-based author was dismayed by the suggestion that the whisky had offended some Scotch whisky purists, adding: "If any Scots start looking over their shoulder and get worried by this then they must be hopelessly insecure.

"This is only one small distillery and it certainly won't make a dent on the combined might of the Scotch whisky industry."

The Scottish Whisky Association has welcomed the venture. "The fact that countries outside of Scotland, including England, are keen to produce whisky is testament to Scotch whisky's continued success around the globe. We wish our friends in Norfolk well," said a spokesman.

Andrew Nelstrop, the co-owner of the English Whisky Company, said he believed the distillery had succeeded in creating a lightbodied malt with a trademark toffee sweetness.

"Much to our surprise and delight, our whisky has already attracted a lot of interest in Scotland," he said. "We are shipping about 500 bottles a month up to Scotland and we expect that to grow.

"There are a lot of Burns suppers going on in England now, and we are hoping to supply them with genuine English whisky come January."

Article Courtesy of The Times

The Times
October 2009 Scotch Whisky News

30 Oct

Distillery craftsman celebrates 50-year labour of love

Last coppersmith marks milestone

THE longest-serving coppersmith in Scotland has celebrated his 50th anniversary at a Moray distillery.

Dennis McBain, 67, said his job has changed very little since he became coppersmith at The Balvenie Distillery at Dufftown in 1959, aged just 17.

He said the time-honoured handcrafted techniques are the same as when he first joined the family-run firm.

The father-of-three and grandfather-of-four, who lives at Maclennan Place, Dufftown, with his wife Barbara, said he felt honoured and proud to be known as the last resident coppersmith at a distillery in Scotland.

He said: "Finding an employer who values the old skills and is willing to keep their own craftsmen in order to preserve them is rare these days. I could have retired several years ago but I love the distillery and the people I work with."

The Balvenie is the only distillery in Scotland that still grows its own barley and malts on a traditional floor maltings. The distillery employs its own team of craftsmen, including coopers, maltmen and a coppersmith. Many have worked there for more than 40 years.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

29 Oct

Unique whisky to go under hammer

A unique whisky is expected to raise up to £20,000 when it is auctioned next month.

The Dalmore Oculus is said to be one of the most precious whiskies ever to come up for sale.

It has been assembled from some of the most exceptional whiskies of the past 140 years, and is therefore the first and last of its kind.

The whisky will go under the hammer at an auction held by Bonhams in Edinburgh on 18 November.

The unique expression of the Dalmore Oculus was created by master-distiller Richard Paterson, who drew on his four decades of experience to create it.

It is said to have been assembled with a rich spicy and orange zest core alongside the taste and smell of dried fruits, ripe bananas, treacle toffee and almonds.

Alongside these elements, rare malts selected from vintages distilled in 1868, 1878, 1922, 1926 and 1939 add a depth of flavour.

'Truly exceptional'

Finally, to intensify the whisky, an incredibly intense oak, spice and bitter dark chocolate was added to the mix alongside the whisky's "capstone" - a judicious amount of a highly-revered 64-year-old blend which offers notes of coffee, aromatic spices and citrus zest.

It will be presented for sale in a Baccarat crystal decanter.

Mr Paterson said: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the Dalmore Oculus is without doubt a truly exceptional expression.

"This is the most exquisite expression I have personally crafted with all the loving reference it so richly deserves to seduce the most discerning and sophisticated plates imaginable. I am confident it will appeal to epicureans, investors and collectors".

Alongside the Dalmore Oculus, Bonhams will also be selling the first section of the largest single-owner collection of whisky ever to appear at auction.

The 3,000-strong Willard S Folsom Collection of Old and Rare Single Malt Whiskies has been amassed over an 18-year period and features wide ranges of Ardbeg, Bowmore, Dalmore, Glenfiddich, Laphroaig, Springbank, Kinclaith, Killyloch, Ben Wyvis, Glen Grant, Glenmorangie, The Glenlivet, Strathmill, Mortlach and The Macallan.

Article Courtesy of BBCi


28 Oct

Award taste of things to come for Speyside distillery

Owners thrilled by company's success

THE owners of Speyside's smallest distillery have won an award marking its progress since it reopened 11 years ago.

Gordon & MacPhail, owners of Benromach Distillery at Forres, received the "distance no object" title at the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards.

The distillery at Invererne Road at Forres opened in 1898 and produced blended whisky until it was mothballed in the 1980s.

It was taken over by Elgin firm Gordon & MacPhail in 1993 and transformed into a single malt distillery, which now exports to customers in 40 countries.

It launched its first 10-year-old malt last year and was the first distillery in the world to produce a certified organic single malt whisky.

Ian Chapman, the firm's marketing director, said it had been a landmark year for the company.

He added: "It has been a real journey over the past five years, but we've already seen a very important milestone with our 10-year old malt and there are more to come."

Gordon & MacPhail joint managing directors David and Michael Urquhart said: "We are thrilled that Benromach's success has been acknowledged in this way. This has been a great year for us and we'd like to extend our thanks to all of our staff and customers."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

26 Oct

Free drams on offer to shoppers at Inverness centre

Award-winning bar gives out samples

VISITORS were able to sample a wee dram while they shopped at the Eastgate Centre in Inverness on Saturday.

Fresh from winning the coveted crown of Malt Whisky Bar of the Year, Jon Beach, owner of Fiddler's, at Drumnadrochit, handed out tasters of Balblair whisky to passers-by.

Mr Beach said: "The judges were impressed by the range of whisky and the imaginative way we present the drink.

"We serve whisky with spring water, not tap water, and a valinch (a large pipette for adding water). For a top-end whisky, we'll serve it with tablet or chocolate."

Customers at Fiddler's, which has now won the SLTN Malt Whisky Bar of the Year accolade for the third year in succession, can choose from a selection of 523 malts.

Among those to enjoy a dram were chef Albert Roux, who opened his first Scottish restaurant, Chez Roux, at Rocpool Reserve, in Inverness seven months ago.

Other food and drink traders at the centre on Saturday included Ullapool Bakery, Ardersier-based Macleod Organics and Cocoa Mountain, which trades from Balnakeil Craft Village, near Durness.

The event brought the curtain down on the shopping centre's three-day contribution to Highland Homecoming, which featured dancing on Thursday and music on Friday.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

26 Oct

Whisky retailer hits the web

The UK's largest whisky retailer, World Duty Free, has launched a website for its World of Whiskies store, offering a range of added benefits to customers who register as members on the site.

UK airport retailer World Duty Free accounts for 25% of all UK whisky sales and will now make its range of more than 300 whisky labels available online through

Benefits to members who register include free whisky miniatures with orders, exclusive competitions, tastings and events, quarterly newsletters with news and reviews, advance notice of product launches and articles from the firm's whisky expert, Charles Maclean.

The site will also feature an interactive facility allowing members to rate and review any of the whiskies available on the website.

Jonathan Kelsey, senior brand manager at World Duty Free said: "We identified an opportunity to help extend the reach and accessibility of our whisky expertise to a much wider audience and deliver added value and benefits."

There are seven World of Whiskies stores in airports across the UK.

Article Courtesy of The Drinks Business

The Drinks Business

23 Oct

Floods force distillery to stop making whisky

Firefighters pump out Brechin premises after downpour

An Angus distillery has been forced to halt whisky production after becoming flooded during Wednesday's heavy rains.

Fire crews spent more than 12 hours pumping water from Glencadam Distillery at Brechin, with staff continuing the clean-up.

Yesterday they were unable to say when production would resume.

The distillery's still room produces 17,800 litres of whisky each week, more than 3,500 litres every day.

The alarm was raised around 10.30pm on Wednesday when water began flooding into the still room.

Staff from Forfar environmental protection unit and 18 firefighters worked through the night to pump water from the still room and the dam on the site. Staff at the distillery cleared remaining water from the still room and used sandbags to block off the main lade bringing water into the building yesterday.

Glencadam manager Douglas Fitchett said work could not restart until the water level has been reduced and damage to the motors and pumps in the still room has been assessed. "Staff on site had the foresight to shut the pumps off as soon as the water started to enter," he said.

"It is purely the motors in the still house. None of the rest of the distillery is affected. But the motors have been under water for a good 16 hours now.

"The main problem would appear to be the water is coming in from our other holding dam, to the main dam within the distillery. It runs right through the distillery in the form of an old stone drain which we think has either collapsed or got blocked because of the volume of water going through it."

A company from Aberdeen was hired to pressure-wash the system last night to remove any blockages that might have built up.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

22 Oct

Whisky sales hit by distribution changes

Major Scottish whisky brands Chivas Regal and Glenlivet are seeing sharp falls in sales, parent company Pernod Ricard revealed yesterday.

Year-on-year sales of Chivas were down 17% in volume and 7% in organic growth value terms in the three months to September 30.

Pernod Ricard said yesterday that a quarter of the decline in Chivas was due to bringing Japanese distribution back in-house.

It also pointed out that in the same period of last year Chivas was up 10%, producing high comparative figures.

But it admitted shipments to duty free shops had fallen.

Glenlivet, the world's second best selling single malt behind Glenfiddich, is down 7% in volume terms and 8% in value after a fall in shipments to the United States, where it is the best selling single malt.

Meanwhile, Ballantine's is down 13% in volume and 15% in sales, partly due to losing out to Chivas in Asia.

All three whiskies are major strategic brands for the company.

Overall, Pernod posted a 4% year-on-year decline in sales for the quarter, after a 3% fall in the previous three months. This was in line with the company's expectations, Pernod said.

Chief executive Pierre Pringuet said: "The performance of this first quarter strengthens our confidence for the current financial year."

Article Courtesy of The Herald

The Herald

21 Oct

Bottling bid to save whisky plant jobs

THE team behind the rescue of a Scots brewery has begun moves to secure part of the doomed Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock.

The move would secure dozens of jobs and see a range of beers and a new adult-orientated soft drinks line bottled within a section of the Kilmarnock site, or on land previously promised to Johnnie Walker's owners Diageo by the local authority.

The firm behind the Arran Brewery, which was relaunched out of receivership last summer, has begun talks about taking on a small fraction of the 700 Johnnie Walker workers facing redundancy when the bottling plant shuts in May 2012.

The decision by Scotland's oldest brewery, Belhaven, to shut its bottling plant in East Lothian, where some of the Arran bottling took place, has led Marketing Management Services International (MMSI) to seek cost-effective alternatives.

Gerald Michaluk, who heads Glasgow-based MMSI, said the closure of Belhaven's Dunbar plant had created a bottling shortage, with his firm confident of securing the contracts to bottle beers from other Scottish microbreweries and expanding to a workforce of up to 100 within five years.

Mr Michaluk has held meetings with East Ayrshire Council, with both sides describing the discussions as positive, although Diageo has yet to offer any feedback to the firm.

The brewing giant said its main concern was addressing issues of severance payments and relocation of its workforce and added it would have a presence in Kilmarnock until May 2012.

Article Courtesy of Evening Times

Evening Times

19 Oct

Glengoyne strengthens its Travel Retail offering

Ian Macleod Distillers is building on the success of its award-winning Travel Retail range, with the introduction of an new exclusive, one litre Glengoyne 12 Years Old Cask Strength at this year's TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes.

The overall design of the 12 Years Old Cask Strength Single Malt reflects all of the elements at the heart of Glengoyne, especially the brand's commitment to its heritage, authenticity and craftsmanship. Presented in a black matte tube with glossed embossing and gold foiling, additional exclusive luxury cues for the Travel Retail market include greater emphasis on the terms 'Cask Strength' and 'Natural Colour' and a tasting notes neck-tag booklet.

Originally introduced to the core range as a 70cl bottling in 2004, the 12 Years Old Cask Strength has earned a deserved reputation as an exceptional high quality Single Malt, previously winning double gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirit Awards. From October, the 12 Years Old Cask Strength will also be available in a one litre bottle exclusively through Travel Retail outlets worldwide.

Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers commented: "Such is the quality and success of the 12 Years Old Cask Strength Single Malt domestically, we feel a luxury litre version has a deserving place in the exclusive Travel Retail market.

The new premium packaging of the one litre Cask Strength is a true reflection of the excellent, award-winning malt within, but also of the distillery's 175 years experience, exceptional whisky-making skill and high calibre ingredients that combine to make Glengoyne - 'The Real Taste of Malt'."

'Cask Strength' whisky is bottled straight from the cask in which it has been matured. There is no addition of water prior to bottling, so that the alcoholic strength remains the same as it was in the cask.

Over the next five years, Ian Macleod plans to increase its travel retail sales from eight to ten per cent of its overall business, continuing to develop exclusive travel retail products on an ongoing basis. Past successes include Glengoyne 14 Years Old Heritage Gold and Smokehead Extra Rare.

The award winning Ian Macleod Distillers portfolio, which includes Glengoyne, King Robert II, Langs and Smokehead, as well as gin, rum, and vodka, currently has combined total sales of more than one million cases, with 85% being exported to over 65 markets worldwide.

Glengoyne 12 Years Old Cask Strength litre is available globally, exclusively through Travel Retail outlets (1 litre, 57.2% vol., TR RSP of £36.00/Euro39.50/$60.00).

The Glengoyne 12 Years Old Cask Strength and other Travel Retail products in the Ian Macleod Distillers portfolio will be on display at Cannes TWFA, Red Village, Stand K22.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

16 Oct

Whisky plant's closure delayed

DIAGEO is to delay the closure of its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock for six months.

However, the drinks giant could face industrial action if redundancy deals for the 700 workers at Kilmarnock, 140 at the Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow and 30 at a bottling plant in Shieldhall are not improved.

Diageo today confirmed the Ayrshire site will be axed in May 2012.

A series of redundancies will now start in October next year, when a phased closure programme begins.

A spokesman said: "The bottling plant was due to close in 2011 but it won't now close until May 2012. However, it will be a phased closure. Compulsory redundancies will not now begin until October 2010."

The decision to push back the date of closure of the plant triggered a lukewarm response from union negotiator Billy Parker, of Unite.

He said: "It would be better if the plant was to stay open. But I suppose the older ones may be jumping for joy if only because they will remain in their jobs for an extra six months.

"Remember a lot of them realise there is little prospect of them working again, while the younger ones know they are unlikely to find another job with the same pay rate."

Diageo is also to stump up loyalty bonuses, and workers who remain at the plant until the closure will pocket an extra £7,500.

Bosses are now under pressure to significantly improve their proposed redundancy terms.

Workers were this morning staging a mass meeting in Kilmarnock and were expected to call for a strike ballot.

Calls for a ballot were also likely to be supported at another mass meeting in a Glasgow hotel later in the day, to be attended by workers from the Port Dundas distillery and bottling plant in Shieldhall.

The Port Dundas distillery is due to close next year. Diageo has yet to give a date but workers predict the shutdown will happen in March.

Article Courtesy of Evening Times

Evening Times

15 Oct

Diageo staff seek shareholders' support

Protesters against plant closures issue appeal over job cuts

DIAGEO workers appealed to shareholders yesterday to support their cause as the firm's plan to cut hundreds of jobs was branded "corporate greed".

Shareholders arriving at the company's AGM in London were handed a letter by protesters saying the move had been described as "akin to ripping out the heart of the Scottish whisky industry".

The drinks giant announced last month it was pressing ahead with the closure of its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock, and its Port Dundas grain distillery in Glasgow, affecting 900 workers across the two sites.

Diageo workers held protests outside the Kilmarnock plant yesterday.

The letter to shareholders outlined an alternative business plan, drawn up by Unite, which the union says would save money and jobs.

Bill Anderson, 59, a shop steward from the Port Dundas distillery, said the job cuts were "corporate greed, big time". Mr Anderson, who has worked for the firm for 20 years, said it was the next generation that would suffer.

He added: "These are quality jobs and I think in the climate today the country can ill afford to lose a skilled workforce."

Mr Anderson said the cuts would be more understandable if the company was in trouble or if "they had been through hard times", but he said the firm posted profits of £2billion this year. He said: "I think it is an absolute disgrace to throw the workforce on the scrapheap."

The cuts will fall particularly hard on Kilmarnock, and Mr Anderson said the move was "the destruction of a town".

The letter to shareholders read: "We know that Diageo's shareholders want a strong and thriving business. So do we, because strong businesses mean good jobs.

"But as shareholders, we think you also want one which can hold its head up high in the towns and the communities that have made you such good returns."

Mr Anderson spoke to shareholders and the Diageo board at the meeting. He said: "We are appealing to you to keep the two distilleries and keep Johnnie Walker in Kilmarnock."

But chief executive Paul Walsh said that while some negotiations would continue, the company would not change its job cuts plans.

"Going forward we will engage in how we execute these decisions but the fundamental decisions will remain unchanged," Mr Walsh said.

He said the firm would welcome the possibility of some Kilmarnock workers moving to the other facilities if they wanted to. Although Diageo will shut its Port Dundas and Kilmarnock sites, it has pledged to create 400 jobs at its packaging plant in Fife.

Mr Walsh met protesters ahead of the AGM and agreed to meet workers at Kilmarnock on the condition they understood that there would be no change in the company's plans.

Alex Howie of the Kilmarnock factory said the closure would have a devastating effect. He added :"It's not only our jobs, it's the children coming out of school who have no prospect. It will make Kilmarnock a ghost town."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

14 Oct

Fundraising move for W&M's Indian owner

United to issue shares worth up to £220m

Indian group United Spirits is to sell new shares worth £190-£220million to institutions to help reduce its debt pile of almost £890million, according to a report out yesterday.

A large part of the debt was incurred in United's £595million acquisition of whisky distiller Whyte and Mackay (W&M) in 2007.

The report said the company, listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, would sell shares after failing to sell a stake to private-equity firms or Diageo, which earlier this year was in discussions to buy a 15% holding in United.

It was also reported at that time that United, led by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, was aiming to sell 49% of Glasgow-based W&M, although that was later denied and United said it was committed to making the Scottish business a major international spirit company.

United, the world's third largest spirit-maker by volume, could place new shares with institutions as early as this week, three different sources suggested, although the company declined to comment.

The firm said earlier it aims to cut its debt to below £500million by the end of March 2010, and in June it sold shares held in treasury to raise about £118million and pay down some loans.

It still has more than 8million shares in treasury which it could sell, but sources said it would opt to issue new shares after gaining shareholder approval last month to raise up to £220million.

Shares in United Spirits, which is valued at £1.33billion, have risen just 3.3% this year compared with a 76% rise in the main Bombay share index.

The Press and Journal reported in August that a Highland distillery was likely to bear the brunt of job cuts at Glasgow-based W&M.

It said about 100 jobs could go as a result of a review being carried out in light of the recession and also a "punitive UK legislative climate".

Up to 85 posts in Scotland were under threat, with a grain distillery at Invergordon, in Easter Ross, thought to be in line for more than 30 job cuts, potentially a quarter of its 133-strong workforce.

W&M said all seven Scottish sites were affected, with about 15 sales posts outside the country also at risk among a total payroll of 574.

The firm has malt distilleries at Fettercairn, in Aberdeenshire; Dalmore, at Alness in Easter Ross; on Jura and at Tamnavulin, on Speyside.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

13 Oct

Think-tank has ambitions for whisky industry

Strategy aims to make Moray as famous as Napa valley

A think-tank has unveiled its vision to make Moray as well known as Spain's Rioja region and California's Napa Valley.

Representatives from major whisky businesses and tourism groups in Moray formed the think-tank, which also includes MP Angus Robertson.

Their aim is to develop a marketing strategy to attract more visitors and make it internationally famous, like France's Champagne region, for example.

Mr Robertson said the group's first meeting had been a huge success.

The brain-storming session was held at the Craigellachie Hotel, in the heart of whisky country.

A number of big names were represented at the table including distillers William Grant and Sons, shortbread makers Walkers, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, the Scottish Whisky Association, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Moray's tourism development group.

Mr Robertson said the aim of the group was clear.

"It's how we can do every-thing we can to make sure we're heading in the same direction, so we make the most of what we have here, which is a tremendous mixture of amazing environment with the best-known industry that Scotland has to offer."

He added: "It's building on existing initiatives to ensure that in a number of years Speyside is as famous as Napa Valley or Rioja. This part of the world needs to market itself and promote itself and become noticed. It's only by everybody working together that we can."

Gordon and MacPhail managing director Ian Urquhart, representing the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, said the meeting was a worthwhile venture.

"The whisky festival is delighted to have the opportunity to speak with a wide spectrum of people from the business and public sectors to discuss ways we can help each other to develop tourism in Moray," he said.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

12 Oct

New whisky club opens in Drymen

FANS of the dram are set to get together in Drymen.

Whisky shop owner and enthusiast Cameron McCann has started a monthly whisky club to compliment his new shop within Ealain Gallery in the village.

The club, held on the last Thursday of the month, is a "relaxed, fun way to discover more about our national drink".

Cameron said: "By bringing in experts and ambassadors from the industry, they take us on a journey through their various different expressions of malts. The club will be guided by the members. If there is a particular distillery they wish to have on a club night we will endeavour to bring it in.

"The new addition to the gallery began in April this year and is proving to be a big hit for those who like a wee dram, from the serious collector to those looking for an unusual gift."

The first club night took place on September 24 when Auchentoshan Distillery were the guests.

They will be followed by: The Arran Malt, October 29; Classic Malts, November 26; Glengoyne, January 21; Bowmore, February 25; and Benriach, March 25.

The cost is £10 per night with £5 off your first bottle purchased. Club nights begin at 7.15pm and last around two hours.

For further information contact Cameron or June McCann at Ealain Gallery on 07712 765615 or 01360 660996, email:, or go to

Article Courtesy of Stirling Observer

Stirling Observer

09 Oct

Doing well down under - Glenfarclas 30 Years Old named Best Whisky in Australia

Speyside, October 2009 - Glenfarclas 30 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky has been awarded the Trophy for 'Best Overall Whisky' at the 2009 Australian Malt Whisky Awards; Australia's most respected Whisky Awards. Conducted by the Malt Whisky Society of Australia, it is the second time the Glenfarclas 30 Years Old has received this prestigious honour, following a win in the inaugural 2003 awards. At the awards dinner the Glenfarclas 30 Years Old also picked up the coveted 'Members Choice' Trophy.

Independent and family owned since 1865, J. & G. Grant have been producing the award winning Glenfarclas Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky for six generations. The distillery produces a traditional Speyside whisky with a heavy sherry influence. Commenting on the Glenfarclas 30 Years Old, Peter Godden, Chairman of the Judges said, 'Pure, perfect sherry and malt combine. Clean, precise and rich with a flavour that drives on and on. A complete, perfect sherried style'.

Judging for the awards is conducted under international protocols. Craig Daniels, Chairperson of the Malt Whisky Society of Australia explained, 'Our intention is always to reward excellence in the bottle and to remove any other considerations from the equation'.

The Glenfarclas portfolio is distributed in Australia by Angove Family Winemakers. Commenting on the award, Richard Angove, Brand Manager, said, 'As distributors of Glenfarclas in Australia since 1993, Angove Family Winemakers are thrilled with this result. Glenfarclas Single Malts are the pinnacle in their category and this award is testament to the Grant family who have such history and experience in creating these malts'.

George Grant, sixth generation of the family to own and manage the Glenfarclas distillery said, 'It's great to hear that Glenfarclas is being appreciated down under'.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

08 Oct

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Branches Out into India

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has expanded its global reach with the launch of a new branch in India, the largest spirits market in the world.

The Society is tapping into the aspirational Indian whisky drinkers who comprise the world's largest consumer block for the Scotch whisky industry. Branded Scotch whisky sales crossed a million cases last year, which some analysts argued was only the beginning of a large market opening up.

As part of the Society's launch, an event was held at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. Society managing director, Paul Miles, who acted as host for the evening's launch, comments: "India is seen as a huge opportunity for the Scotch industry and this is an exciting development for the Society in a country where consumers are very interested in Scotch whisky and single malts. The enthusiasm expressed by everyone attending this event for what the Society has to offer was very encouraging."

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has over 26,000 members worldwide with Members' Rooms, in Edinburgh and London. The Society bottles single casks from a range of 125 malt whisky distilleries. Only the very best single cask, single malt whisky is selected, having been approved by the Society's Tasting Panel.

Set up in 1983, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was born out of a love of single cask, single malt whisky. Achieving rapid national and global growth, the Society has become widely acknowledged as the source of the finest and most exclusive single cask, single malt whiskies available anywhere in the world.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

08 Oct

Ian Macleod Distillers Launch New Chieftain's Range

Independent bottler and distiller Ian Macleod, is to launch a range of new releases from their exclusive Chieftain's limited edition collection.

The rare casks include new bottlings from some of Scotland's finest distilleries, and showcases a complete redesign of the bottle and packaging of the Chieftain's range.

The new releases include a Glenrothes 14 Years Old, an Aultmore 12 Years Old, three Caol Ila's aged 9, 11 and 13 Years Old, an Ardbeg 11 Years Old, a Benriach 12 Years Old, a Bladnoch 16 Years Old and a Tomatin 16 Years Old.

Designed by Ron Burnett Design the new packaging emphasises its limited edition status with more details appealing to the connoisseur, collector and enthusiast. The new two-part labels, personally signed by Antony McCallum-Caron, Chieftain's Rare Malt Manager, include individual cask numbers and the number of bottles produced, as well as distillation, bottling date and wood type.

The new labels also have a refined 'Chieftain' illustration and elegant calligraphic script brand namestyle, tapered to reflect the new elegant antique bottle shape. They also feature subtle watermark landscapes and are colour coded to represent the region of production.

The new more individual rigid presentation box, in ribbed matt black with old gold lining, replaces the traditional tube-style packaging of previous Chieftain's bottlings and includes details of regional taste characteristics. The box opens and hinges from the middle to add further premium presentation value.

Designer Ron Burnett said of the new design: "Our brief was to create new premium packaging representative of the superiority and rarity of the new bottlings. The box displays the bottles in a way befitting the exceptional quality and worth of the whisky."

Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers commented: "This new release of rare casks is the ideal platform to showcase the new-look Chieftain's range. The new, more elegant, antique look bottles and premium boxes are the ideal representation of the age, rarity and exceptional quality of the new bottlings."

Since 1936, Ian Macleod Distillers, through its dedication to tradition and quality, has amassed an unrivalled cask stock from Scotland's many distilleries. The enviable collection includes extremely rare malts, some from closed or mothballed distilleries. The Chieftain's collection's hallmark is that each bottling must be fit for a King, a Leader or in the Celtic world, a Chieftain.

Further rare cask releases from the Chieftain's range are planned for later in the year.

Established in 1933, Ian Macleod Distillers is one of the largest and most widely respected independent family companies within the spirits industry. The award winning Ian Macleod portfolio, which includes Glengoyne, King Robert II, Langs and Smokehead, as well as gin, rum, and vodka, currently has combined total sales of more than one million cases, with 85% being exported to over 65 markets worldwide.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

07 Oct

Popular play breaks theatre record

Full houses at Pitlochry theatre since staging Whisky Galore

A NEW musical version of one of Scotland's best loved stories has become the most popular show in Pitlochry Festival Theatre's 58-year history.

Since it opened in May, Whisky Galore - based on Compton MacKenzie's novel - has played to full houses and the theatre has had a long waiting list for returned tickets.

MacKenzie based his book on an incident in Eriskay in 1941, when the SS Politician ran aground carrying about 250,000 bottles of whisky.

In his comic novel the islanders, who have been hit by wartime rationing and have run out of whisky, set out to relieve the ship of her cargo.

It was made into a film in 1949 but this is the first musical based on the story.

Theatre chief executive and artistic director John Durnin said he knew the theatre had a hit on its hands after the show received a standing ovation on its opening night in May, but its success had exceeded expectations.

He said: "The subsequent scale of the show's popularity has been truly staggering.

"Even more extraordinary has been the way the show's fame has spread far and wide in such a short space of time, attracting theatre-goers from pretty much every corner of the UK."

Mr Durnin said bookings had been taken from as far as Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff and Northern Ireland.

He added: "The Scottish Government's Homecoming 2009 campaign has undoubtedly helped pull in visitors from even further away.

"We've welcomed visitors from throughout Europe and the Baltic countries, New Zealand and Australia, and the USA."

The show will run until Saturday, October 17 and the theatre has announced it will be followed next season with another popular musical, Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

06 Oct

Dalmore Releases £10,000 Malt Whisky

A rare 1951-vintage single malt whisky with a RSP of £10,000 per bottle will be released today (Monday 5 October).

Only 12 decanters of the Sirius expression from premium whisky brand The Dalmore will be produced. Sirius will only be available to private buyers and through a limited network of World Duty Free (WDF) stores.

"The international market for high-end luxury products which have an investment value is buoyant - and the finest whiskies are playing an increasingly dominant role in this sector," says The Dalmore's Brand Director, David Robertson.

"Our partnership with World Duty Free allows us to reach an elite group of investors and whisky aficionados across the globe. We will be focusing on key target markets in Taiwan, USA and France."

Sirius will be launched in the flagship WDF store at Heathrow Terminal 5. Nigel Sandals, Category Buying Manager for Liquor at WDF, adds: "Our customer base contains some of the most knowledgeable investors in spirits in the world.

"Being able to offer the absolute best-quality luxury goods is a very strong incentive for buyers to use travel retail and World Duty Free - as they would a specialist retailer - to get exceptional value and to see a real return on their investment."

The Dalmore's 1951 Sirius Vintage is a single-cask, single malt whisky, with a cask strength of 45%.

The Dalmore Master Distiller, Richard Paterson, says: "Distinguished and elegant, age has gracefully finessed this brilliant expression. Sirius is, quite simply, one of the world's most perfect whiskies."

For more information about The Dalmore visit

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

05 Oct

EU settles row with Uruguay over tax on whisky

The The European Commission said Uruguay has amended legislation that allowed it to put European spirits, including whisky, into its highest excise tax category.

A spokesman for the SWA said: "Reform in Uruguay following the complaint has been very welcome. For the first time, Scotch whisky distillers have had the opportunity to compete on a level playing field."

Instead of using the actual transaction value of the spirits, they were divided into groups and assigned a price upon which the excise tax was levied. EU products were put in the highest category.

Under the new legislation the tax is based on the transaction value of the product, removing the discrimination.

Among the EU's other complaints was that Uruguay excluded whiskies matured for three or more years from the lowest category of tax. All whiskies produced in Uruguay are aged less than three years but European rules mean EU whiskies must be matured for at least three years.

All of these barriers have been addressed, the EU said.The changes have seen Scottish whisky exports increase by more than 30% since the SWA's 2004 complaint to the EU, to £18m in 2008.

EU trade commissioner Catherine Ashton said: "I am delighted that we have solved this issue without having to resort to World Trade Organisation litigation."

The SWA leads strident campaigns on behalf of Scottish distillers, notably lobbying to remove tax barriers and protect terms such as 'Scotch whisky' and other labels.

But it has warned that its hand could be weakened if the Scottish Government introduces minimum pricing per unit for alcohol.

The SWA believes it could lead to other countries using health reasons for tariffs.

Article Courtesy of The Herald

The Herald

03 Oct

Drambuie pressing on with brand investment

But turnover and profits down 12% amid recession

Whisky liqueur-maker Drambuie said yesterday it had not been immune to the effects of the global recession over the past year.

It said turnover of cased goods had fallen 12% in the year, caused partly by a slowdown in consumer purchases, particularly in America, the UK and Spain, but equally by a reduction in stockholdings across the supply chain as distributors, wholesalers and retailers looked to conserve cash.

Drambuie said that as a result, operating profits from core brand sales had also declined by 12%, from £3.2million in 2008 to £2.8million in the year to June 30.

The company's accounts showed total turnover of £19.31million in the latest period, compared with £21.05million in 2007-08.

Pre-tax profits for 2008-09 came in at £1.44million, down from £1.54million previously.

Drambuie said it did not expect to see any further impact on volume in the current year as a result of the supply-chain cash squeeze.

During the past 12 months, the firm has continued its rejuvenation strategy, started three years ago, to generate significant shareholder value by rebuilding long-term growth for the brand.

This strategy is intended to broaden Drambuie's appeal beyond the conventional after-dinner liqueur-drinking occasion by offering younger consumers a more versatile repertoire of Drambuie cocktails.

The group said its balance sheet remained strong, with shareholder funds at June 30 marginally down at £17.7million. Cash in hand stood at £6.3million.

Chief executive Phil Parnell said: "The absence of debt going into this recession has been a major advantage to the company as many industry players cut back on marketing investment in order to reduce cash outflow.

"As a privately owned company, we have the flexibility to use part of our cash reserves in additional marketing investment for the longer-term growth of the brand. Such investment may adversely impact the profit-and-loss account in the short term, but should lead to enhanced brand equity and shareholder growth beyond."

Mr Parnell said the recession had delivered a short-term setback to the progress of Drambuie's brand-rejuvenation strategy, but it was confident its investment would reap rewards when the economic climate improved.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

02 Oct

Maxxium UK launches Teacher's School of Whisky campaign

Maxxium UK is to launch a new campaign for Teacher's to inform consumers and licensees of the quality credentials of blended Scotch whisky and Teacher's own rich history and heritage.

Launching in October, the Teacher's School of Whisky campaign will include advertorials in men's lifestyle magazines and national newspapers, regional consumer master classes, consumer PR and trade support through education and in-outlet activity.

Maxxium UK's brand manager for Teacher's Janette Peat says: "At Maxxium UK we have the country's leading Scotch whisky portfolio so we are keen to drive value in the category through education.

"Our campaign will dispel the myth that blends are inferior to malts by highlighting the craftsmanship that goes into making a blend and the skill required to ensure its flavour is consistent year after year.

Full details of the new Teacher's School of Whisky activity will be announced soon.

Article Courtesy of Talking Retail

Talking Retail

01 Oct

Glengoyne 12 Years Old joins award-winning core range

Glengoyne Distillery is launching an exciting new edition to its acclaimed core range: Glengoyne 12 Years Old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Like all of Glengoyne's Single Malts, the 12 Years Old is distilled from air-dried barley, untainted by harsh peat smoke, capturing the authentic 'Real Taste of Malt'. At 43% strength, with a natural, golden colour, the 12 Years Old has scents of coconut oil, lemon zest, honey and dried malt. With a warming mouthfeel, its initial palate is of toffee apples and cinnamon spice, while a touch of water brings out ginger, fresh orange and shortbread. The balanced finish is further mellowed by hints of sherry and soft oak.

Developed by agency, Ron Burnett Design, the bottle and tube presentation perfectly aligns the 12 Years Old within the existing Glengoyne 10, 17 and 21 Years Old core range. The metallic gold/copper coloured tube mirrors the rich colour of the malt within, while tasting notes and details on Glengoyne's tradition, craftsmanship and whisky making process, bring the Single Malt to life.

Available to domestic and international markets, Ian Macleod Distillers, brand owners of Glengoyne, plan to export the 12 Years Old Single Malt to over 60 markets worldwide and predict it will rapidly become a top best seller with specialists, second only to the Glengoyne 10 Years Old in overall sales volumes.

Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, commented: "The 12 Years Old is a very welcome addition to the Glengoyne core range. The decision to introduce the 12 Years Old is an integral part of our ongoing successful marketing and sales strategy to continue to grow and develop the Glengoyne brand. It is also in response to international demand, particularly from Western Europe, where our customers are looking for a high quality, intermediate step between the Glengoyne 10 and 17 Year Olds."

Glengoyne 12 Years Old will be available from October to UK and international markets RRP £33.99 ($56.00 €39.50).

For further information on UK distribution contact: Harvey Miller Wine & Spirit Agencies 08445 611 252. For international distribution contact Ian Macleod Distillers

Multi-gold award winning Glengoyne Highland Single Malt is one of the leading premium malt whiskies in the world and has been distilled at Glengoyne distillery since 1833. Along with the core range, Glengoyne produce a number of limited edition casks each year, including most recently the super premium Glengoyne 40 Years Old.

Curious to discover more visit:

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release
September 2009 Scotch Whisky News

30 Sep

Whisky giants Diageo announce ad campaign to cash in on Scottish roots... weeks after axing 900 workers

WHISKY giants Diageo are launching a multi-million pound ad campaign cashing in on their Scottish roots - as 900 workers face the axe.

Bosses want to relaunch Johnnie Walker at the same time as severing all links with Kilmarnock, the birthplace of the famous whisky.

They have kept their plans under wraps, fearing a backlash.

But a secret document leaked to the Record reveals the proposals for the ads, which will feature a wacky TV chef called Bruce Campbell.

Last night, furious union official Georgina Cunningham said it was "a slap in the face" for the workers who face life on the dole.

A casting agency will audition actors for the role of Campbell in Glasgow tomorrow. And shooting is to begin on November 9.

An industry insider said: "Diageo won't be happy when this gets out because they are embarrassed by the money being spent when hundreds of folk are losing their jobs.

"They didn't want any backlash and thought it could be done secretly.

"But it's difficult to audition for Scottish actors and shoot it in Scotland without anyone getting a sniff."

Georgina, shop steward for the union Unite at the Kilmarnock plant, said: "This is a slap in the face and a disgrace that they tried to be so sneaky about it."

Diageo have refused to back down on plans to close their Kilmarnock plant and a distillery in Port Dundas, Glasgow, with a total loss of 900 jobs.

The secret document detailing the huge TV and poster campaign says Campbell "should be very Scottish to the point his Scottishness is part of what we find funny about him".

But the ads will not be shown in Scotland as they are aimed at wooing younger drinkers in South Africa, the world's fifth largest market for Scotch.

A Diageo spokeswoman said: "The campaign, which is still in the very early conceptual stage, is designed to promote a wide variety of our brands ... to the important South African market."

Article Courtesy of Daily Record

Daily Record

30 Sep

The Glenrothes launches John Ramsay legacy bottling as malt master retires

The Glenrothes single malt is launching a limited edition John Ramsay Legacy bottling to mark the Malt Master's retirement this month.

His final gift to The Glenrothes, the John Ramsay Legacy bottling is a non-Vintage selection of 30 casks personally chosen by John to create an impressive single malt in celebration of his longstanding relationship with the Speyside distillery. The casks are all 2nd fill American Oak sherry casks from Vintages ranging from 1973 to 1987.

Bursting with aromas of spice, blood orange and vanilla, this limited edition single malt has a rich palate of fruit and mango with a long, mature unmistakably American oak finish. Only 100 bottles of this Legacy bottling (46.7% abv) are available in the UK.

John Ramsay, Malt Master for The Edrington Group, says: "My signature and tasting notes have been on each and every label of The Glenrothes since 2004. This final bottling has given me a wonderful opportunity to craft a single malt which embodies the exceptional quality and distinctive style of The Glenrothes and I am truly delighted with the result."

Since joining The Edrington Group in 1991, John Ramsay has held the esteemed position of overseeing the quality of the Group's whisky portfolio, including The Glenrothes' Vintages and non-Vintage Select Reserve.

Ronnie Cox, Global Brand Ambassador for The Glenrothes, says: "John Ramsay's outstanding efforts have resulted in a fine selection of The Glenrothes Vintages, each with their own and unique personality. In 2005, John also created a house style non-Vintage single malt that truly typifies the character of The Glenrothes distillery with ripe fruits, citrus, vanilla and hints of spice. In creating The Glenrothes Select Reserve, John has enabled us to make our single malt more accessible to whisky lovers around the world."

"With the John Ramsay Legacy bottling, he continues to impress. As with all expressions of The Glenrothes, this limited edition should be shared with likeminded friends. Together with everyone at the distillery, I would like to raise a toast to John for his exceptional contribution to The Glenrothes single malt and the legacy he leaves us with."

Each 70cl bottle of the John Ramsay Legacy limited edition is individually numbered and beautifully presented in a bespoke oak box designed to showcase the rare single malt. A booklet scripted by John Ramsay, including tasting notes, is also kept in a hidden drawer at the base of the box.

The Glenrothes John Ramsay Legacy bottling is available from the start of October at specialist retailers across the UK and on The Glenrothes website (RRP £699).

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

29 Sep

The Macallan Burns Celebratory bottling

To mark the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns's birth, The Macallan has produced a celebratory bottling which is now available to buy from The Macallan distillery shop at Easter Elchies in Speyside, Scotland, priced £199.

A limited edition of only 250 bottles has been produced and it's envisaged that these will sell out quickly. The liquid comes from two casks chosen by The Macallan's whisky maker Bob Dalgarno - one from 1997 and one from 1998, both numbered 1759, the year of Burns's birth. The significance of the cask numbers was recognised by Bob and he felt it only appropriate to produce a special bottling for the homecoming year. The rarity of the liquid is a fitting commemoration to Scotland's famous poet.

The whisky, which is a sherry oak expression with an ABV of 46 per cent, has been placed in a decanter made to an original design, based on the head and shoulders of The Macallan standard bottle. It's exquisitely packaged in a handmade Scottish red pine wooden box designed by master cabinet maker Harvey McLean, whose workshop is only a few hundred yards from Burns's birthplace in Alloway. The box carries a specially commissioned enamel plate featuring a portrait of Robert Burns. Each presentation box comes with a unique numbered printing of an individual Burns poem and a copy of an ancient map of 'Burns Country.'

Ken Grier, Director of Malts for The Edrington Group, commented: "To bring a due sense of historical perspective to this celebratory bottling, we managed to persuade David Holmes and Nicholas Salaman to return to The Macallan to work on this unique project and their work is featured in the accompanying brochure carried within the presentation box. We have created a unique bottling celebrating the birth of the nations bard, linking Scotland's Master of Poetry with The Macallan - Masters of Spirit and Wood."

Holmes and Salaman are the two men who helped to bring The Macallan to the attention of a wider public over a period of 30 years. They worked on The Macallan advertising account when the brand was barely known outside Speyside. They produced over 100 advertisements, posters and commercials in a campaign, through their advertising agency Holmes, Knight Ritchie, that gradually grew in size as The Macallan itself developed - from 101st in the single malt league to number two by value worldwide.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

28 Sep

Glengoyne Distillery celebrates a summer of success

Scotland's most beautiful distillery, Glengoyne, has reported its busiest summer season in its 175 year history with a massive 43% upsurge in visitor numbers in August alone.

Last month, 7,672 tourists visited the picturesque distillery located in the heart of the Trossachs, compared to 5,366 for the same period in 2008.

Stuart Hendry, Glengoyne's Brand and Development Manager commented: "It has been a fantastic summer for the distillery. Over the past few years we have seen our peak season extending further into early spring and later autumn months. Easter for example, was busier than the last two years combined - we even had several dozen visitors queuing up on Easter Sunday morning waiting for us to unlock the gates! Overall, our numbers to date for 2009 are up over 20% on last year which we are thrilled about."

Set in its stunning location at the beginning of the West Highland Way and in easy reach of Glasgow city centre and Edinburgh, Scotland's most southerly Highland distillery has always been a popular choice with tourists exploring Scotland. The weak pound against the euro has helped bring visitors, particularly from Northern Europe to the distillery, all eager to learn about Glengoyne's 'Real Taste of Malt'.

Stuart Hendry continued: "The 'stay-cation' effect has certainly had an impact on the number of distillery visits. We have consistently seen an increased proportion of Britons, especially from Northern England, touring Glengoyne this summer. The distillery is located on a main tourist route heading north and our investment in new and clearer signage seems to have paid off in attracting passing visitors.

"We are also fortunate that wet weather does not hinder the Glengoyne experience for our guests and I am sure in some respects it may have even helped us. Being located in such a popular walking and hiking region, I hope having the chance to blend your own whisky or enjoying a warming dram on a tour, would be an appealing alternative to walking in the rain."

Glengoyne Distillery offers an unrivalled visitor experience and wide menu of tours and tastings. One of the most popular tours, the Master Blender Session, even gives visitors the opportunity to have a go blending their own whisky to take home with the in the state-of -the-art Glengoyne Blending Room for just £30.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

27 Sep

My Health: Charles MacLean, whisky expert

I rarely have days when I don't have a whisky, though there are mornings when I give it up for life.

Most of my evaluation work is done in the mornings, because that's when your nose and palate is freshest. I drink it for pleasure in the evenings. Does it have health benefits? I think it probably does - I very rarely catch a cold and I can't ever remember catching flu. They used to believe it had disinfectant qualities - it's very pure and clean.

A study done a few years ago by the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen found that whisky drinkers absorb higher levels of phenols from the blood than red wine drinkers. Phenols help protect against cardiovascular disease. My father, who was a surgeon, would say to his patients, "when you reach 40, give up smoking and take up drinking, in moderation".

I think the essential thing is not to think about your health but to listen to your body. I'm a great believer in the body telling you when there's something up. It may be exercise or lack of it, food or lack of it, or overdrinking - or lack of it!

I'm 58 and I do enjoy robust health. It's my view that to some extent, ill-health can be self-generated. I'm not talking about serious illness, but poor health. I think you can become obsessed about your health to the detriment of enjoying your life. I'm really a stranger to the doctor. I'm not on board for check-ups - perhaps I should be.

I'm fortunate that I live right next to the Pentlands. I have two dogs and my duty of the day is to hammer up the hill by the ski slope at Hillhead and jog down again. It takes about 50 minutes. It's a pain in the neck, but I think that, drinking

and smoking as I do, it's important. It's mortification of the flesh: the only pleasure in it is self-righteousness when you get to the top - and it is a lovely view.

*Charles MacLean will be appearing at the Wigtown Book Festival on Friday, October 2 at 9pm (£10) and Saturday at noon (£8). For tickets, visit

Article Courtesy of The Herald

The Herald

26 Sep

Whisky festival brought £1m in business to Moray

More than 24,000 visitors were attracted to at least 375 events

A whisky festival that showcased the heritage, folklore and culture of Speyside raised almost £1million for Moray's economy, it emerged last night.

Organisers of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, which was held over 10 days in May, revealed more than 375 events attracted about 24,000 visitors - raising more than £950,000 for the area.

The market research study showed record numbers of international visitors had come to the area and local businesses said it was an excellent kick-start to the summer season.

Andy Cameron, owner of the Daavar bed and breakfast in Church Street, Dufftown, said the festival was so busy it was a challenge to cater to the surge of tourists.

He said: "It was really hard work because it was so well attended. We were full over the 10-day period. And certainly the restaurants that held gala dinners were extremely busy."

Among the events included were live music and community events, whisky awards, chef and photographic competitions, and tours and tastings at distilleries.

The first Malt Whisky School - a master class for a select number of whisky enthusiasts - also featured for the first time at the event.

Last night, festival organiser Pamela Looper said it was a great success.

Festival chairman Jim Royan added: "It would not be possible without the generous support of our funders, partners, sponsors and members and we wish to thank all those who were involved for their support and hard work in making their own events and the festival as a whole such a success."

The festival's annual meeting will be held on October 2 at Knockando Distillery. Anyone who wishes to attend should contact Ms Looper on to confirm.

The meeting will be followed by workshops to generate feedback for next year's event which is expected to be held from April 29 to May 3.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

25 Sep

Tullibardine Distillery manager John raises glass to 50 years in whisky trade

TULLIBARDINE Distillery manager John Black is a man who was, literally, born into his trade.

Having just raised a glass to 50 years in the whisky industry, he comes from a line of people who have been in the industry for 150 years.

As such, he instinctively knows more about the business than those with years of training.

Born at what is now Cardhu distillery, the son of a distiller, he began his life on a cottage on the grounds of the distillery.

He also had many cousins who were involved in the industry so it was inevitable he would end up working with whisky.

John has worked at various Scottish distilleries, starting as a shift manager at Cardhu before his career took him to 11 different distilleries.

He worked up to the position of distillery manager and ended up at Tullibardine in the Perthshire village of Blackford.

However, he admits that, since he began his career, the industry has gone through many changes.

General operations have changed and many businesses have been forced to downsize as centralisation took hold.

That meant many people had to move sideways to take up roles for firms that support the industry, which is a vast departure to the world in which John cut his teeth.

He said: "In my day the distillery was the heart and soul of the whisky industry, from barley to bottle. Nowadays, many distilleries have downsized and the processes have become automated."

His current job marries many different skills, from guiding tours around Tullibardine to choosing from the range of vintages and expressions for his signature John Black range.

A typical day begins with John taking a tour around the distillery and talking to the shift workers to establish if there are any issues and what the priorities are for that day.

Throughout the morning there are often meetings to discuss management issues and production levels.

The rest of the day is normally taken up with visitor tours, including John's own 'connoisseur's tour' for those who are more knowledgeable about their whisky. Every day can be different and John never knows at any one time who he may meet.

And his past guests on distillery tours have included the head of the Greek Orthodox Church and Michael Howard. All of this means that daily life at the distillery is always different and unpredictable.

John concedes that the industry has changed vastly nowadays with some universities offering a BSC honours in Brewing and Distilling and an Institute of Brewing exists. However, in his opinion there is no substitute for the hands-on approach when it comes to learning your trade.

He added: "I would value experience above academia any day. These days, a distillery manager will get paid in the region of £30,000 to £40,000 however this depends on the size of the distillery.

"Some of the larger companies will have more than one distillery so, obviously, with more responsibility comes higher wages.

"The perks include an endless supply of whisky and a company car. Personally, the perks I value the most are non-material, such as meeting important dignitaries such as the Head of the Greek Orthodox Church."

All in all the job of distillery manager is almost a vocation rather than a job.

It requires dedication and, of course, a deep love of the product.

However, as John Black demonstrates, it's one that can be deeply rewarding and has many perks with which the average job just can't compete.

Article Courtesy of Perthshire Advertiser

Perthshire Advertiser

25 Sep

Scotch whisky store goes worldwide

The online store,, the offshoot of Edinburgh's Scotch Whisky Experience, has launched a distribution service to 95 destinations worldwide.

The internet based shop features a wide selection of regional malts to rare blends which has over 300 varieties of whiskies in stock. It is part of one of Scotland's top tourist attractions, the Scotch Whisky Experience, that tells the story of Scotland's national drink past and present and holds the 'World's Largest Collection of Scotch Whiskies' displaying almost 3,500 bottles.

Susan Morrison, general manager at the Scotch Whisky Experience said: "It is absolutely fantastic to be able to offer this new service and ensure that Scotch whisky lovers everywhere can enjoy their chosen malt or blend. In addition, with an extensive range of products mirroring those available in our in-house store, our many international visitors will now be able to continue with their love of Scotch in their home countries."

Article Courtesy of Harpers


25 Sep

New organic Islay tastes like tipple 200 years ago

First organic Islay whiskyBy Rory Reynolds

TOP whisky distillers are to bottle the world's first organic Islay single malt whisky this week.

Bruichladdich Organic - believed to be the only organic single malt in continuous production - comes from a single variety of barley, from a single farm, in a single year.

The privately-owned distillery has labelled the whisky "Anns an t-seann doigh" - Gaelic for 'the way it used to be'.

Distillers say that this is a return to the way that whisky was made 200 years ago and reckon the taste is so unusual that experts won't even know which country it's from.

Mark Reynier, managing director of Bruichladdich, said: "Whilst we think we're being really progressive if you go back 200 years, everything was organic."I come from a wine background and I've seen the difference in the quality of the grapes in organic farming.


"We have 23 farmers in Scotland growing organic barley for us, but each edition of this whisky comes from just one farm in one year - making is the ultimate single, single malt.

"Every different edition will be grown from a different farm - next year the edition will be a different taste.

"In this whisky you really taste the barley, and you don't find that in single malt much now.

"We're a small private companies and we can do these things and this is a real landmark for us."

The current edition, which is in the process of being bottled this week, is distilled from Chalice barley grown by William Rose at Culblair, near Inverness in summer of 2003.

Bruichladdich, which was relaunched in 2000 after being closed for six years, has released a number of unusual takes on the traditional Islay single malt.


These include a bourbon edition and a single malt called Infinity - with a specially designed long-lasting taste.

Their X4 edition, which featured in BBC2's Oz and James Drink to Britain, is said to either make the drinker immortal - or kill them.

The world's first organic single malt was first bottled in 1992 by Springbank.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

21 Sep

First Whisky Galore festival held

The first Whisky Galore Festival has been held on Barra, the island in the Western Isles where the 1949 comedy was filmed.

Guests included three sisters who were young extras in the film based on the book by Compton MacKenzie.

Other events during the weekend celebration included whisky tastings, workshops and a golf tournament.

The famous book and film were inspired by the grounding of the ship SS Politician off Eriskay in 1941.

The vessel had about 250,000 bottles of spirit aboard.

Author Compton MacKenzie used the event as the basis of his book Whisky Galore in 1947 and an Ealing comedy followed in 1949.

Earlier this year, a musical of Whisky Galore was performed at the Festival Theatre in Pitlochry.

Article Courtesy of BBCi


19 Sep

Drink whisky before you invest in it

Resisting the temptation to open the bottle would seem to be the most challenging aspect of investing in whisky, but for those with the willpower there are some tasty financial returns, with rare examples soaring as much as tenfold in value over the past decade.

One of the most sought-after brands is Macallan of Craigellachie in the Speyside region of the Highlands. Last month a limited edition 50-year-old bottle of Macallan sold for £11,750 at auction. The same whisky could have been bought for £200 in 1983.

However, the record is £32,000 for a Dalmore 62 Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky at the Pennyhill Park Hotel in Bagshot, Surrey, in 2005.

It was one of only 12 bottles produced in 1943 and was bought by a businessman, who then sat back and drank almost all of it at the hotel with five extremely grateful friends.

Other great Scotch single malt producers loved by connoisseurs include Ardbeg, Bowmore, Highland Park and Springbank.

A limited edition Black Bowmore distilled in 1964 and bottled in 1993 initially sold for £80, but can now change hands for £2,000. Other serious labels include Bruichladdich, Glenfiddich, Talisker and Balvenie.

Andrew Bell, 28, whisky specialist with McTear's Auctioneers in Glasgow, says: 'If you want to invest, you must first have a love of whisky.

The main ingredients required for success are passion and patience.

'What you are after is simple --fantastic-tasting drams. But palates vary and while some prefer peat or smoky flavours, others might like a grassy or sweet taste.'

The whiskies that tend to attract most investor attention are limited numbers aged in the cask between ten and 60 years before being bottled.

Once bottled, the whisky can be stored indefinitely.

Some of the most valuable whiskies are from distilleries that have closed down, such as Brora, Dallas Dhu, Glen Flagler, Rosebank and Port Ellen.

Bell says: 'Port Ellen, which closed in 1983, was produced on Islay in the southern Hebrides, one of the best areas for top quality whisky distilleries.

'A 27-year-old Port Ellen that cost £130 at the Feis Ile - the Islay Festival of Malt and Music - in May last year might now fetch £1,000 because of quality and rarity.'

Investors can also buy into a cask before the whisky has been bottled and avoid duty if it is later sold back to producers and kept in a bonded warehouse.

Whisky must be kept in a cask in bond for at least three years before it can be called whisky, but it is usually kept for a decade or more. The cask is what gives the spirit all its taste and colour. About two per cent evaporates in storage every year and this is known as 'the angel's share'.

However, it is not recommended for novice connoisseurs to buy casks. They should seek expert advice and be wary of a market that has been hit by past scams.

Sukhinder Singh, 41, director of The Whisky Exchange in Park Royal, north-west London, says: 'A great idea is to buy one bottle to enjoy on special occasions as a drink and another to be stored for investment purposes.

'Price tends to reflect quality and age, but this does not necessarily mean an older whisky is better - the value is more about rarity and quality.'

Sukhinder believes a great place to start is at a specialist whiskytasting event. 'Drinking whisky is like a journey - a life cycle,' he says. 'There is so much diversity and complexity that it can make a lot of sense to have guidance.'

Distilleries offer tasting tours while local societies can also help. Specialist events include The Whisky Show at Guildhall, City of London, on November 6 and 7, though a ticket costs £100.

Although a rare and historic bottle may be worth thousands of pounds, this is no guarantee it will be drinkable. A sign to look out for is the level of whisky in the bottle. If it is high this is a good sign, but down to the shoulder or label and it may have oxidised and be flat.

Whisky should still be kept at a constant temperature away from direct sunlight and heat. It is also advisable to wet the cork occasionally to prevent it shrinking.

Article Courtesy of This is Money

This is Money

17 Sep

Raise a toast to Whisky Galore

WHISKY lovers are in for a tasty treat this autumn with a dram good line-up of events taking place across the country.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the much-loved Ealing comedy, Whisky Galore!, the classic Ealing film which was set and filmed in the Outer Hebrides and based on a real-life shipwreck.

With bottles from the original wreck still seen in local pubs, it is appropriate that Barra is hosting the first Isle of Barra Whisky Galore Festival from tomorrow until Sunday.

A special mobile cinema will show the film throughout the festival and visitors can take part in a whisky hunt across Barra, visiting locations which featured in the film.

Alternatively they can enjoy lots of live music, ceilidhs or take part in a golf tournament.

In further recognition of Whisky Galore! there is still the chance to enjoy Whisky Galore - A Musical which is being performed at Pitlochry Festival Theatre until Saturday, October 17.

A tale of drams and dreams, this musical world premiere is based on Compton MacKenzie's funny, romantic and entertaining novel and features a lively score that conjures up both the 1940s and the unmistakable sounds of the Western Isles.

Not to be outdone, Speyside, Scotland's most productive whisky region, plays host to a special Autumn Speyside Whisky Festival which runs from Friday, September 25, until Monday, September 28.

The fun-packed weekend has a full programme of events, including a musical evening, a craft fair and whisky auction, with VIP tours to the Speyside Cooperage.

Glenfiddich and Balvenie distilleries have opened their doors and are offering a great selection of Connoisseurs tours with the option of combining your VIP tour with lunch or dinner prepared under the expert eye of Andy Daggert, the Spirit of Speyside Chef of the Year in 2008.

In addition, there is a range of nosing and tasting events and bus tours to distilleries not normally open to the public.

For energetic whisky lovers, there is the opportunity to paddle down the River Spey in a canoe enjoying excellent food and whisky as you go, or the chance to take to the hills following smugglers' routes of old.

The festival gets under way with an official opening party in The Square, Dufftown, on Friday, September 25, at 7.30pm which is free and open to all.

Visitors are invited to share a dram, watch a fireworks display and listen to the pipe band play before marching behind them to the Stramash in the Memorial Hall.

Finally, in the south-west of the country, one of Scotland's literary hotspots, Wigtown, celebrates whisky at its annual Stena Line Wigtown Book Festival with a special Whisky & Words mini festival running from Wednesday, September 30, until Saturday, October 3.

The programme explores the relationship between whisky and writing, and most of the events will take place at Scotland's southernmost distillery, Bladnoch Distillery.

For further information on these events and the full Homecoming Scotland 2009 programme visit www.homecomingscotland For full details of the autumn whisky events in Speyside click on to

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

15 Sep

Rare Ben Riach and Glendronach malts set to be a highlight of Whisky Live Paris

A NUMBER of fine and rare BenRiach and GlenDronach malts are set to be one of the highlights of Whisky Live Paris this month.

French whisky lovers are looking forward to sampling some of the vintage expressions which have been maturing in GlenD ronach's Aberdeenshire distillery over the last forty years.

Regional Sales Director James Cowan said: "Whisky Live provides the ultimate whisky experience and continues to be one of the leading consumer and trade-based whisky shows globally.

"France has long been regarded as the leading Scotch Whisky market worldwide and it is essential that we have our brands on display on this key date in the annual calendar of events.

"Although the majority of whisky sold in France is blended whisky, single malt Scotch Whisky is fast becoming a fashionable beverage within the young to middle-aged consumer groups. We hope that both BenRiach and GlenDronach will be well received by all those who visit the stand over the exhibition weekend.

"This year's exhibition has significant interest to us and we will be showcasing the newly-released GlenDronach 15-year-old and 18-year-old expressions together with some fine and rare vintage editions which will appeal to all malt whisky enthusiasts and collectors alike."

Amongst many of the products being presenting are:

BenRiach 12yo 'Sherry Wood' matured

BenRiach 16yo

Birnie Moss 'non aged'

GlenDronach 15yo

GlenDronach 18yo

In addition, James and his team will be sampling some astonishing vintage expressions from 1971, 1972 and 1996.

WhiskyLive Paris takes place at Pavillon Gabriel, 5 avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris, from Saturday 26 - Monday 28 September 2009.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

14 Sep

Pricing threat to whisky trade

More than £600m could be wiped off the value of Scotch whisky imports in over 140 markets around the world if the Scottish Government succeeds in introducing a minimum price for alcohol, the chief executive of the industry's trade body has told The Herald.

The Scottish Government plans to bring in a minimum price per unit for alcohol as part of its plans to tackle the country's drinking culture.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, has warned minimum pricing could be used as an excuse in overseas markets employing health arguments to impose tariffs that give domestic brands a competitive edge.

However, this is the first time Hewitt has spelled out the potentially punitive toll on the industry.

"Minimum pricing is effectively a trade barrier, and such measures will be costly to our industry," he said.

"Scotch whisky is exported to 200 markets around the world, and 143 of them already impose various levels of trade barriers on Scotch whisky imports to the benefit of their own domestic brands.

"If we impose a tariff ourselves on health grounds, then Scotland sets the precedent, and the EU will not be able to argue our case in overseas markets that attempt to do the same thing. Scotch whisky exports in 2008 amounted to £3.1bn. I'd say 20% of that would be lost if the Scottish Government goes ahead with its minimum pricing plans, which basically gives the green light to countries to introduce health-based restrictions against Scotch whisky."

A 20% reduction in export value - based on 2008 figures - amounts to £620m.

"The domestic market would also be hit", Hewitt added. "Higher prices will encourage counterfeit, fraud, smuggling, organised crime and job losses."

Under the government's proposal, at 40p a unit, the minimum bottle price would rise to £11.20, compared with the £10.55 average bottle price in Scotland. At 50p per unit, the average rises to £14. Hewitt also contends that minimum pricing would constitute a violation of European Union competition rules and the WTO's GATT (general agreement on tariffs and trade) guidelines by acting as a barrier to trade.

Without naming names, Hewitt said that it was his understanding that a number of large overseas spirits firms were already preparing for legal action against the Scottish Government if its plans were legitimised.

Meanwhile, the Irish Spirits Association, which represents 11 of the largest Irish whiskey and other spirit makers, has already waded into the debate, and says that the minimum pricing plan constitutes a barrier to trade and sets undesirable precedents for other countries to follow.

At the same time, the Washington-based US Distilled Spirits Council, representing the American spirits sector, has urged the Scottish Government to abandon its push to bring in minimum pricing.

Peter Cressy, the US group's president, said: "The Scottish Government's proposal to introduce minimum prices for beverage alcohol products at the very least will adversely affect the conditions of competition in the Scottish market and also may run afoul of international trade rules.

"We would urge the Scottish Government to re-consider its approach and to focus on measures to tackle alcohol misuse that do not disrupt trade."

Nonetheless, the EC, in a statement answering a Parliamentary Question from a Labour MEP, said that the proposed minimum pricing fits within European rules on competition - a move that apparently rebuffs the drinks industry's claims about the legality of the proposal.

Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has also dismissed the SWA's claims as flawed, insisting that the minimum pricing was being pursued as a public health policy and not market protection.

He added: "The SWA should not underestimate their ability to successfully challenge any unfair practices in any country. They've been doing that for years."

The minimum pricing plan was announced by First Minister Alex Salmond in his legislative programme on September 3 as part of a wider Alcohol and Health Bill.

The proposals are expected to start making their way through the legislative process by the end of the year, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said.

Minimum alcohol pricing may have a punitive toll on the industry.

Article Courtesy of The Herald

The Herald

12 Sep

BenRiach pouring £7m into distillery

Firm plans to wake 'sleeping giant'

THE owner of malt whisky brand GlenDronach is to pour £7million into restoring it to its past glory.

Larbert-based BenRiach Distillery Company bought Glendronach Distillery, at Forgue, near Huntly, just over a year ago - in a deal believed to be worth £30million - from Chivas Brothers, the whisky business of Pernod Ricard.

BenRiach managing director Billy Walker said yesterday he wanted to re-establish GlenDronach to its status of 40 years ago, when it was among the five most popular malts in the world.

When he and South African investors Geoff Bell and Wayne Keiswetter took over GlenDronach there were fewer than 20,000 bottles a year sold globally.

This year, after adding a number of expressions, such as a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old, GlenDronach will sell about 150,000 bottles.

BenRiach is to invest £5million in sherry casks over four years and a further £2million on brand promotion and extra staff to boost the 'sleeping giant'. By 2014, the company hopes to be selling some 250,000 bottles annually.

Mr Walker said: 'In recent years, GlenDronach has fallen out of view but it has maintained a kind of cult status. This new investment returns it to centre stage. We're pursuing our dream - to sell fine malt whisky all over the world and put GlenDronach back where it belongs.'

In another profile-boosting move, four GlenDronach casks are to be bottled specially for the Danish market and will go on sale there next month following a recent visit to Forgue by a group of retailers from Denmark.

BenRiach employs 30 people but hopes to create a further five positions in the near future.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

12 Sep

Figures show whisky sector not in decline, say insiders

The Scotch whisky industry is not in crisis, in spite of mass layoffs at Diageo and recent production cuts at Chivas Brothers, and the forthcoming global export data will prove it, insiders at the Scotch Whisky Association claim.

The industry body's figures for the first half of 2009, set for release at the end of the month, will reveal an uptick in the overall value of shipments around the world, SWA insiders said.

However, they will also show that during the first quarter of the year, whisky distillers saw markedly diminished demand from trade customers, which had difficulty obtaining funds from banks amid the credit freeze - but increases in the second quarter offset the earlier decline.

"We've said all along that the whisky industry is recession-resistant, not recession-immune - and we stand by that," one insider said.

"What these latest figures will show is that global consumption overall has not decreased. The problem was that trade customers were ordering less because they were having trouble getting credit.

"These customers were simply using up existing supplies before deciding to restock. That situation changed in the second quarter."

The insider told The Herald: "To suggest the whisky industry is in decline is ridiculous. In the past two years alone, around £500m has been invested into new and rejuvenated distilleries. If that's not a sign of confidence, I don't know what is."

Such comments are noteable because Diageo, the world's biggest drinks group, earlier this week said it would continue with plans to close its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock and axe headcount at Port Dundas with the combined loss of 900 posts.

The group, which last week also issued a downbeat outlook for 2010, will offset the layoffs by creating 400 jobs through the expansion of the packaging plant in Fife.

Meanwhile, Chivas Brothers, which is owned by French drinks giant Pernod Ricard and controls around 20% of the Scotch whisky market, also this week said it cut production at several distilleries as whisky sales suffered in the past six months. It said volumes of Ballantine's are down 4% and Chivas Regal off 5% year-on-year.

Earlier this year, SWA figures revealed the Scotch whisky industry has set new records for exports in 2008, earning £97 every second for the UK's balance of trade. The value of shipments increased by 8% to a record £3.1bn.

Comments by insiders suggest that the latest half-year figures, when published, will reveal that industry is on track to set a new record in 2009.

"Some markets are down, it's true. Spain, Korea and the US are down - and while this reflects the state of the economy, there are also credit and supply issues," The Herald was told.

"But there is definitely a vast improvement over the situation at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. Whisky remains a growth industry."

Article Courtesy of The Herald

The Herald

11 Aug

Big whisky makes dram fine sight

A bottle of whisky believed to be the world's biggest has been unveiled in a Strathspey village.

The 5ft tall bottle of single malt has been inched into place at Tomintoul's Clockhouse restaurant.

It has already become a tourist attraction, with visitors keen to have their photo taken beside the bottle.

It had to be commissioned from a manufacturer in Germany and is now filled with about 150 bottles of 14-year-old Tomintoul Distillery whisky.

It has been certified by the Guinness World Records as the largest bottle of Scotch ever produced.

'Talking point'

Irene McPherson, owner of the Clockhouse restaurant, said: "We've had quite a few people coming in just to see it and get photographed with it, so it is a talking point.

"Hopefully it'll bring in more tourists and people coming out for a run just to have a look at it."

Mike Drury, who runs a specialist whisky shop in the village, said the most worrying part of the whole enterprise was when it came to hammering in the cork.

He said: "We have massive conglomerate distillery companies and I don't know what could have been wrong with them not to have thought of it before.

"So Tomintoul - a wee little village in the middle of nowhere - has done it. The largest bottle of whisky in the world."

Article Courtesy of BBCi


10 Sep

Diageo rejects 'unworkable' plan to save Johnnie Walker whisky jobs

Diageo is to press ahead with plans to shed hundreds of jobs after rejecting an "unworkable" alternative plan submitted by Scottish ministers

The drinks giant announced it will close the Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock, ending 200 years of links with the town, and a distillery in Port Dundas, Glasgow.

However, the loss of 900 jobs will be offset by the creation of 400 posts when a new factory is built in Leven, Fife

Diageo said the alternative blueprint, submitted by John Swinney, the Scottish finance minister, would cost the firm significantly more and still lead to 500 jobs losses.

Despite the promise of a sizeable taxpayer-funded subsidy, the firm said Mr Swinney had provided "no workable alternative to deliver what Diageo needs".

The Scottish finance minister described the rejection as "deeply disappointing", but did not respond to criticism that his plan would have cost the public purse millions of pounds and saved few jobs.

The announcement is also a blow to Alex Salmond, the First Minister, who joined a rally in Kilmarnock protesting the cuts and told the cheering masses: "We're going to achieve something for the workforces of Scotland."

The alternative plan would have seen production continue at Port Dundas and the creation of a new plant in Kilmarnock, albeit with only about half the 900 jobs being saved.

It would also have meant scrapping the 400 posts earmarked for Fife, prompting accusations SNP ministers were "playing off" one area of Scotland against another.

David Gosnell, the firm's managing director of global supply, said: "We examined the alternative proposals thoroughly. They don't deliver a business model that would be good for either Diageo or Scotland.

"We need a sustainable Scottish operation that supports our international spirits business and provides a future for the 4,000 people we would employ in Scotland after this restructuring is completed.

"I appreciate their efforts but the taskforce has no workable alternative to deliver what Diageo needs."

He said the alternative blueprint had failed to breach a "significant economic gap", with the closure of the Kilmarnock and Port Dundas plants projected to save the company £75million.

Keeping both sites open would "embed inefficiencies", he said, and Mr Swinney presented no long-term plan for saving Port Dundas other than delaying closure.

Significantly, there would still be a net loss of around 500 jobs and "no investment at Leven and minimal job creation there".

Diageo has ended its discussions with ministers, and will now focus on consulting with employees and trade unions on how the job losses will be implemented.

Mr Swinney said the "strongest arguments" had been submitted for keeping the two plants open, and insisted the alternative plan had been deliverable and cost effective.

He added: "I still do not believe that Diageo appreciate the social consequences of their financial decision in turning their backs on 200 years of history in Port Dundas and Kilmarnock."

Willie Coffey, SNP MSP for Kilmarnock, accused Diageo of acting "shamefully" and described the job losses as "a devastating blow for an intensely loyal workforce."

But Labour blamed SNP ministers for the closures. Iain Gray, the party's Holyrood leader, said: "I am deeply disappointed that John Swinney has been unable to bring forward a plan capable of convincing Diageo to save these jobs."

However, Tavish Scott, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: "There's no point in a political blame game, because that won't bring one job back.

"Everyone needs to pull together to help those who have lost their job today get back into work as quickly as possible."


Article Courtesy of Daily and the Telegraph


09 Sep

Fresh blow for whisky trade as Chivas Brothers cuts production

Further signs that the Scotch whisky industry is feeling the impact of the global recession have emerged after Chivas Brothers admitted it has cut production at several of its distilleries.

The news, which the company said had no impact on jobs, comes just weeks after Diageo announced it is closing its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock with the loss of 700 jobs, with another 200 jobs going at the Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow.

Christian Porta, chief executive and chairman of Chivas Brothers, said: "Market conditions have been tougher in the last 12 months.

"We have reduced some distilleries running on a seven day week to five days a week just to be a little bit on the cautious side."

He acknowledged this is on the back of reduced growth expectations in the near term.

Chivas Brothers, which is owned by French drinks giant Pernod Ricard, controls around 20% of the Scotch whisky market. Its whisky sales have suffered in the past six months of 2009, with volumes of Ballantine's down 4% and Chivas Regal off 5% year-on year.

Porta said that the company is continuing with plans to double output at Glenlivet, where sales volumes were up 5% year-on-year in the fist half.

He added that it is keeping open the previously mothballed Braeval and Allt-A-Bhainne distilleries reopened in the past couple of years.

"We haven't gone back and closed them down again. We just reduced the output and we will see how quickly the market recovers," Porta said. "We are very optimistic about the long term. We believe that the demand for Scotch whisky will continue to grow."

He said the industry should not repeat what he called the "mistake" of the 1990s when production was cut back sharply after the Asian financial crisis.

Asked which distilleries have cut back production, a spokeswoman said: "I cannot say which distilleries. We are just adjusting levels of distilling.

"That doesn't represent any sort of job cuts."

Article Courtesy of The Herald

The Herald

09 Sep

Terrified whisky workers find venomous black widows lurking in casks

WHISKY workers who found deadly black widow spiders lurking inside empty barrels expected a little more from the company than a warning to "remain observant".

And they weren't much comforted by assurances that the black widow's venom is "rarely fatal".

The terrified workers at the Diageo Cooperage in Cambus near Alloa, Clacks, were told that their protective gloves and boots would keep them safe from the arachnids.

Sub-contractors at the plant unload old wine barrels which are shipped across the Atlantic and used to store whisky, giving it colour and flavour.

Five spiders were found in the space of a week in containers from California and two were identified by experts as black widows, which have a distinctive red hour-glass mark on the lower abdomen.

Around one per cent of those bitten by the spiders die, even when given the antidote, which itself can cause a fatal reaction in some people. Symptoms, including severe muscle cramps, can vary from one individual to another.

A Diageo spokeswoman said the site had "robust" procedures in place and that workers were given detailed instruction on how to deal with the spiders.

But angry workers, especially those on night-shift, claim the safety advice is simply not good enough.

Yesterday one, who did not want to give his name, said: "The lads are now terrified it will be just a matter of time before someone gets bitten.

"Because of the nature of the job, we have come across insects from abroad before, but nothing as dangerous as this.

"The advice we have been given is a joke. We have gloves and boots but these things can be lethal and it is not easy to spot them inside the containers, especially in the dark."

Article Courtesy of Daily and Sunday Express

Daily and Sunday Express

05 Sep

New whisky for Homecoming

SCOTS ACROSS the globe are being invited to raise a glass to toast the year of Homecoming.

First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday visited the nation's smallest distillery—Edradour near Pitlochry—to officially launch a commemorative cask of "Caledonia" whisky.

The limited edition tipple was specially created to mark Scotland's year of Homecoming.

"Whisky is one of Scotland's finest exports and our many varied malts and blends are savoured and appreciated around the world," said Mr Salmond.

"Scotch whisky is an iconic symbol at times of celebration both at home and abroad—from toasting the Bard at a Burns supper to a dram at Hogmanay.

"It is quite rightly a key part of our year of Homecoming and I am delighted to be visiting Edradour to celebrate the launch of this very special whisky to mark our celebrations."

Also present at yesterday's launch was Dougie Maclean, whose popular song "Caledonia" has been adopted as the anthem for the year of Homecoming.

He is delighted to be associated with the new whisky.

"It is very exciting to be closely involved with Edradour in the creation of this fine new whisky for contemporary Scotland," he said.

"My song Caledonia celebrates a sense of belonging and it seems to have struck a chord with people all over the world.

"As such it is more than appropriate to have a whisky associated with it."

Distillery owner Andrew Symington said the idea for a special tipple was dreamt up as he enjoyed a few measures with Mr Maclean.

"I first met Dougie at last year's Perthshire Amber Festival and, having enjoyed the event very much, decided to become a sponsor of the 2009 event," he explained.

"Over a few whiskies one night we also hatched the idea of doing a Caledonia bottling to celebrate Homecoming 2009."

Marie Christie, project director with Homecoming Scotland, "We are delighted Edradour Distillery and Dougie Maclean are working together in support of the national Homecoming celebrations.

"Whisky is a key theme of the year and Dougie's Perthshire Amber event (to be held from October 30 to November 8) looks set to be a highlight in the programme.

"Caledonia has been proven to be a hugely popular Homecoming anthem and I am sure this new whisky will prove as successful as the song."

Article Courtesy of Dundee Courier

Dundee Courier

04 Sep

Pernod Ricard sees no end to tough conditions

Drink giant delivers gloomy forecast despite 12.5% jump in full-year profits

Pernod Ricard said yesterday it expected a continuing difficult economic environment for the rest of this year and next, and an overall stagnation of the wine and spirit industry.

The French alcoholic drink giant said after reporting results for the year to June 30 that the comparison between the half-year to December 31 and a year earlier would be unfavourable, because of the very strong performance reported over the first half of the 2008-09 financial year.

It added that the second half of the current financial year would be better after last year's second half was adversely affected by the impact of the economic crisis and a strong "destocking effect".

Chief executive Pierre Pringuet said: "Despite a particularly difficult environment, the group achieved a very satisfactory performance in the year just ended. Our priorities are clear: continue to reduce debt and strengthen investments behind our strategic brands."

Among the group's 14 strategic brands are whiskies Chivas Regal, Ballantine's and The Glenlivet single malt. Pernod said The Glenlivet was among its best performing brands during the year, with volume growth of 5% and net-sales organic growth of 7% year-on-year.

Chivas Regal and Ballantine's both disappointed.

Chivas Regal volume was down 5% on the previous year and net-sales were 2% lower. Ballantine's saw volume down 4% and a net-sales organic decline of 5%.

A Chivas Brothers spokesman said: "Glenlivet sales have benefited from robust growth of the malt category, consistent investment in marketing and higher-end expressions helping to increase margins, and growth in its share of the US malt market, which The Glenlivet leads with more than double the sales of the next brand."

He said that, by comparison, markets for blended whiskies such as Chivas Regal and Ballantine's had been less robust

Chivas Brothers, the whisky and premium gin business of Pernod Ricard, also said yesterday its Chivas Regal 18-year-old had become the clear leader of the global ultra-premium Scotch category, having tripled its sales since 2004.

The company relaunched the brand in 2004. In the past year it sold more than 2.5million bottles, achieving 2% growth despite the current market.

Pernod reported "a very good performance" during the year, with strong sales growth thanks to the integration of Vin and Sprit and its Absolut vodka brand in July last year.

The group said sales were up 9% year-on-year to £6.31billion primarily as a result of the contribution of Absolut, which achieved strong growth in several countries including the UK. Organic sales growth was flat, however. Net profits for the year were £827.8million, up 12.5% on the previous year.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

03 Sep

Diageo: 'Positive' talks over plan to save whisky jobs

DRINKS giant Diageo said today that talks aimed at saving hundreds of whisky jobs had been "positive".

Finance Secretary John Swinney met senior figures from the company,which has put 900 jobs at risk with plans to close its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas grain distillery in Glasgow.

Mr Swinney presented Diageo bosses with details of an alternative proposal, which could see production continue at the Glasgow site and the creation of a new plant in Kilmarnock.

And he told the company there could be public money on the table.

David Gosnell, managing director of Diageo Global Supply, described this afternoon's meeting as "positive" and said the company would closely examine the alternative plans.

The drinks giant has said the redundancies at Kilmarnock and Glasgow would be "offset" by the creation of 400 jobs at its packaging plant in Fife.

However it was claimed yesterday the closure of the Kilmarnock bottling plant could cost the local economy more than s15 million a year, while every job lost may cost the public sector up to £20,000 ay ear.

Today the Finance Secretary said Diageo's current proposals would have "severe economic and social consequences within Kilmarnock and Glasgow".

A special taskforce, involving trade unions, local authorities,Scottish Enterprise and politicians, agreed the alternative proposals.

Mr Swinney and Scottish Enterprise chief executive Jack Perry presented details of these to Mr Gosnell and Bryan Donaghey, the managing director for Diageo Scotland.

The Finance Secretary said he had set out the alternative plans in "extensive talks" with the company.

He stated: "Diageo have taken that proposal away and will consider it, and there will be further discussions with the Government and Scottish Enterprise to follow up the discussion we had this afternoon.

"It's important we make progress on this, because obviously there is a lot of uncertainty for the employees that are affected by the proposals Diageo put forward."

He also confirmed: "The question of public money has been discussed.

"I made it clear to Diageo there are circumstances in which the Government would be prepared to consider a contribution of public resources, and that's obviously a matter which is material to the discussions that we need to continue with Diageo."

However he added it was possible not all the 900 jobs under threat would be saved.

Mr Swinney said: "I have said all along there would be employment loss out of these proposals, there is absolutely no way we could come anywhere near to equalling the reduction in costs that Diageo envisages without there being some loss of employment."

The Finance Secretary also accepted if the company agreed to the alternative proposals, that could impact on the planned new jobs inFife.

He stated: "I quite accept the investment can not be in two places at the same time."

Afterwards Mr Gosnell said: "It was a positive meeting with the Scottish Government, and we can confirm that Diageo has now received details on the taskforce's alternative proposal.

"The next step is that we take this document away and examine itclosely. On completion of that process there will be further active dialogue with the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise.

"We believe that both sides want to see a clear way forward and we are all committed to resolving the discussions as soon as possible given the continuing uncertainty for our employees across Scotland.

"At the same time we will continue the consultation process with our staff and their representatives."

Article Courtesy of Daily Record

Daily Record

03 Sep

Manchester's first whisky festival in MOSI

ONLY a month to go the Manchester Food and Drink Festival, which this year seems to be toasting itself with all manner of booze. As well as festivals celebrating local wine merchants (Urbis, October 2-3) and our region's beers (Albert Square, October 10-11) there is also the first Manchester Whisky Festival.

This ultimate dramfest takes place on Saturday, October 10, at the Museum of Science and Industry from noon to 6pm.

And it is not just Scotland and Ireland represented under the tutelage of 'usquebaugh guru' Eddie Ludlow of The Whisky Lounge.

A host of industry experts, from distillery managers to brand ambassadors, will be on hand in the Air and Space Hall to guide punters through the huge range of whiskies on show from as far afield as Japan, America and even India.

Free tasting glass

Fear not, Scotch won't be neglected. Among the exhibitors confirmed so far are: Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Caol Ila, Talisker, Lagavulin, Ardmore, Macallan, Laphroaig, Highland Park, Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Bowmore, Auchentoshan, Suntory, Amrut, Gordon & Macphail, Cooley, Four Roses, Jameson, Glenlivet, Aberlour, Berry Brothers, Benromach.

Tickets cost £16, which includes entrance to the main event, all your drams for the day and a free whisky tasting glass (worth around £4).

The masterclasses cost an additional £5 each. Children are not permitted.

For tickets, go to

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

02 Sep

Warning that minimum pricing for alcohol will hurt whisky makers

Industry chief claims new government drink legislation will affect exports

New minimum pricing rules for alcohol will hurt Scotland's whisky makers and cost jobs, the chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has warned.

Gavin Hewitt, speaking at a business conference in Edinburgh yesterday, said the Scottish Government's new drink legislation would make it harder for the industry to argue against import restrictions in some of its key markets abroad.

Mr Hewitt added: "The mantra has been that this will not hurt premium products and that it will not damage Scotch.

"However, let me be quite clear, this measure will hurt distillers at home and it will hurt distillers overseas.

"It is an issue of major international significance."

He said the industry's experience of EU and international trade rules was that any such system was likely to be a trade barrier.

"An exception to international trade rules could be justified only in very limited circumstances, including if the measure is necessary to protect health, he said.

He added: "It has never happened before in relation to alcohol, nor was the argument ever made in relation to the risks associated with tobacco.

"We see little evidence that minimum pricing is necessary, given the wide range of other measures that could be brought forward to tackle alcohol misuse.

"Indeed new licensing rules, which we support, only come into effect today after a four-year delay."

Mr Hewitt said the government's minimum pricing plans were "spuriously justified" on health grounds, adding: "What message are we sending out about Scotch whisky?"

He highlighted Korean efforts to introduce discriminatory tax measures for Scotch on the grounds the high alcohol content caused greater harm to health.

"We have been able to use international trade rules to stop such blatant protectionism," he said, adding: "It would be difficult to do so in the future if we are also looking to override the same trade rules. The potential implications for our ability to grow exports is clear."

Mr Hewitt said the industry supported the government's firm line on alcohol misuse and shared its commitment to tackling the issue but added: "It could have sent out a more positive message."

Ministers believe minimum pricing will help tackle drunkenness and health problems.

The industry, however, claims it will push up the price of cheaper brands as own-label whiskies represent 25%-30% of the market.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

01 Sep

Malts on the march: Benriach and Glendronach expand into China, Vietnam and USA

As part of its planned growth strategy for its two malts, the BenRiach Distillery Company is expanding into emerging markets such as China and Vietnam.

The company is also beefing up its presence in the USA.

Regional Sales Director James Cowan is responsible for marketing BenRiach and GlenDronach in China and Vietnam. He said: "In the past, these countries were perceived as being off the radar as target malt whisky markets.

"However, in recent years the booming economies and the rise in the number of wealthy individuals have helped to make malt whisky a more attainable product.

"Additionally, these markets are already hugely popular holiday destinations due to improved air links and the spin-off from the Beijing Olympics.

"Due to the sheer size of China - over three and a half million square miles and over 1.3 billion of a population - we intend on focus on a small number of regions rather than try to target the country as a whole. This can act as a springboard to build the brand further in due course.

"Meanwhile, Vietnam has also entered a significant period of growth within the tourism sector, and this lends itself well to the introduction of premium malt whisky throughout the relevant outlets that this industry attracts.

"Our plan is to conduct a series of organised tastings and corporate events in the months to come which will aid the brands' introduction. For any new market and particularly emerging markets, it is essential that we are closely in touch with activities on the ground, as has already been successfully proven in some of our other new te rritories around the world."

Looking at the USA, Regional Sales Director Alistair Walker commented: "BenRiach has been available in the US for four years now and we ar e gradually establishing a name for it through tutored tastings and whisky festivals across the country.

"Our US Importer Preiss Imports will be introducing the new GlenDronach range - 12, 15 and 18 year old malts - towards the end of this year.

"I believe GlenDronach has excellent potential in the US. We have been inundated with enquiries from US consumers via our website so there clearly remains an awareness for the brand in the States - an awareness that was built up during the past five decades via William Teacher's and Allied Distillers."

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

01 Sep

MSPs to get update on Diageo Scots jobs battle

The battle to save 900 whisky jobs in Kilmarnock and Glasgow will switch to Holyrood this week.

Finance secretary John Swinney will update MSPs tomorrow on the progress of the alternative plan backed by the cross party task force which includes trade unions and councils.

Drinks giants Diageo plan to close the Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock, with the loss of 700 jobs, and the distillery at Port Dundas in Glasgow with the loss of another 200 jobs.

But the company want to invest £100million in a new bottling plant at their current site in Leven creating 400 new jobs.

MSPs will also debate a motion tabled by Kilmarnock MSP Willie Coffey backing the fight to save the jobs and the alternative proposals.

The parliamentary action however will come 24 hours before Swinney meets Diageo bosses to flesh out details of the survival plan.

He wrote to Diageo's global manufacturing boss Dave Gosnell last week .

But Gosnell claimed the plans lacked specific details.

He ruled out union calls for executives to take a pay cut, and claimed they had not considered cutting wages, shift allowances or perks for any worker.

But the Record exclusively revealed that the company had slashed their annual freeshare bonus by more than two-thirds, from an average of £1000 to £300.

Article Courtesy of Daily Record

Daily Record
August 2009 Scotch Whisky News

31 Aug

A One Day Festival Celebrating Food & Drink Producers and Designers Based in Scotland

ScotFest, featuring the Glengoyne Tent, is opening its doors to visitors on Sunday 20th of September from 11.30 - 4.30 at Cochrane Park in Alva.

As main sponsors Glengoyne Distillery will take centre stage in the Glengoyne Tent, presenting tutored tastings and offering samples of their handcrafted, multi-award winning whisky throughout the day. The Glengoyne team will also be hosting special blending sessions where visitors can learn the art of the Master Blender to create their very own unique blended whisky.

Also appearing in the Glengoyne Tent will be renowned Chef Tom Lewis of Monachyle Mhor hotel, demonstrating how to combine Glengoyne's Real Taste of Malt with ingredients from Scotland's rich natural larder to create delicious modern dishes. Tom will also be presenting freshly made breads, whisky sausages, fresh fish and much, much MHOR.

Every visitor at ScotFest will receive a FREE gift bag on arrival, with goodies including a VIP Guest Pass for a tour of Glengoyne, Scotland's most beautiful distillery, and exclusive discounts at the ScotFest distillery shop.

Stuart Hendry, Glengoyne Brand Heritage and Commercial Manager commented: "We are extremely proud of our tradition, heritage and handcrafted whisky. ScotFest provides a great platform for us to join other independent and traditional Scottish producers and, along with Tom Lewis and the MHOR brand, demonstrate The Real Taste of Malt with The Real Taste of Food."

A tented village, ScotFest includes a wide selection of local food and drink producers providing samples to taste and enjoy alongside arts and craft exhibitors discussing their design methods and inspiration for their range of truly unique goods - perfect for early Christmas Shopping.

Entertainment will be provided throughout the day with pipes and drums, falconry and ScotFest's very own Town Crier plus Kid's Zone featuring everything from face painting to a completely weatherproof bouncy castle.

Refreshments will be provided by the British Army Field Kitchen, traditional hog roast and the ScotFest Cafe as well as the inflatable pub featuring real Scottish Ales providing a true Scottish welcome.

For further information and updates on who is exhibiting please visit

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

30 Aug

Whisky producer beefing up US presence

Chief executive appears to dismiss bid to save plants as drinks giant announces £2.02bn profit

BENRIACH Distillery Company said yesterday it was beefing up its presence in America and expanding into emerging markets such as China and Vietnam as part of a planned growth strategy for its malt whiskies.

The Larbert-based company started selling its BenRiach whisky in the US four years ago and now plans to relaunch GlenDronach, made at Forgue, near Huntly, there after acquiring both the brand and its distillery from Chivas Brothers last year.

Regional sales director Alistair Walker said BenRiach, produced near Elgin, was gradually making a name for itself across the Atlantic through tutored tastings and whisky festivals across the country, adding: "Our US importer, Preiss Imports, will be introducing the new GlenDronach range - 12, 15 and 18-year-old malts - towards the end of this year.

"We have been inundated with inquiries from US consumers via our website, so there clearly remains an awareness for the brand in the States."

Regional sales director James Cowan is responsible for marketing the firm's products in China and Vietnam. He said: "In the past, these countries were perceived as being off the radar as target malt whisky markets, however, in recent years the booming economies and a rise in the number of wealthy individuals have helped to make malt whisky a more attainable product.

"Additionally, these markets are already hugely popular holiday destinations due to improved air links and the spin-off from the Beijing Olympics.

"Due to the sheer size of China, with more than 3.5million square miles and over 1.3billion of a population, we intend on focus on a small number of regions rather than try to target the country as a whole.

"This can act as a springboard to build the brand further in due course.

"Vietnam has also entered a significant period of growth within the tourism sector and this lends itself well to the introduction of premium malt whisky throughout the relevant outlets that this industry attracts."

BenRiach plans to hold tastings and corporate events in the coming months to introduce its whiskies to the new Asian markets.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

28 Aug

Protesters take fight for Scottish jobs to Diageo's HQ in London

Chief executive appears to dismiss bid to save plants as drinks giant announces £2.02bn profit

Protesters slammed Diageo's plans to axe 900 whisky jobs following the drinks giant's reporting of a £2.02billion profit yesterday.

Diageo, whose brands include Smirnoff and Guinness, said it had a "challenging" year to June, with pre-tax profits slightly lower than last year.

It plans to close its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock with the loss of 700 jobs and shed a further 200 from the distillery at Port Dundas in central Glasgow.

A cross-party campaign has been launched to try to persuade the firm to change its plans, but Diageo said it had not yet considered the proposals.

Gina McCurry, a forklift driver at the Kilmarnock plant, was among the protesters at the company's HQ in London yesterday.

She said: "Diageo are obviously making billions of profits. There is no need to close the plant.

"It's not a case of 'we're not making money', it's a case of 'we're not making enough money'."

Diageo said it will partially offset the planned cuts by creating 400 jobs at its packaging plant in Fife.

Alternative proposals aimed at saving the 900 jobs have been drawn up by trade unions, councils, Scottish Enterprise and politicians. These could see production continue at Port Dundas, as well as the development of a new plant at Kilmarnock.

Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh appeared to dismiss the bid to save the plants yesterday. He said: "I'm aware of the jobs campaign, and am aware people are almost trying to dent the image of the (Johnnie Walker) brand, which will not be good for remaining employees. So I think it's very shortsighted."

He said while the job losses were "tragic" he was focused on a viable future for the business. "The reality is that Scotch whisky's future lies beyond these shores. We have to penetrate new markets."

Mr Walsh pledged to keep an open mind on plans put forward by First Minister Alex Salmond, but warned they would have to be clear on how the Scottish Government would support the business.

He said: "I hope the content is specific. I hope the content provides options that still maintain our business objectives - being cost-competitive. And if there is a gap, I hope the letter is very clear on how the public purse is going to fund that gap."

Des Browne, MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun, said he believed the firm would not pull out of Kilmarnock. "It would be devastating for our town," he said.

"They proposed that but we have a proposal to put to them which can allow them to stay there and maintain hundreds of sustainable jobs in our community," he added.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

28 Aug

Whisky firm's premium brands hit by effects of global downturn

Drink giant Diageo forecasts more challenging year ahead after profits dip

Drink giant Diageo saw global economic woes take a chunk out of its profits in the year to June 30, with some of its key whisky brands suffering a large drop in sales.

The group said yesterday the downturn had affected all its markets, although Europe was hit harder than Asia and North America.

Diageo said organic net sales of iconic whisky brand Johnnie Walker - the world's best selling Scotch - plunged by 6%.

Net whisky sales were down 3% overall by value, although progress was made in some key markets.

Diageo's annual results came as pressure increased on the London-based firm to drop controversial plans to axe 900 Scottish jobs.

It intends to close its bottling plant at Kilmarnock - severing historic ties with Johnnie Walker - in addition to the Port Dundas distillery, in Glasgow.

Diageo - whose other whiskies include Bell's, Benmore, Buchanan's, Haig, J&B, Spey Royal, Vat 69, White Horse and a host of single and classic malt brands - delivered pre-tax profits of £2.02billion despite a "challenging" year. The latest surplus compares with profits of £2.09billion in 2007-08.

Among the group's main brands, Johnnie Walker and J&B both lost ground in terms of annual sales but Buchanan's achieved growth on the back of increased demand in Venezuela, Mexico and Columbia.

Diageo hopes to save an extra £40million a year from its restructuring plans in Scotland, where it employs about 4,500 people and produces nearly 50million cases of whisky and white spirits.

Changes elsewhere in the group are expected to generate a further £120million of cost savings in the current trading year.

Other key brands in Diageo's portfolio include Guinness, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan rum, Bailey's Irish cream liqueur and Tanqueray gin.

Underlying drink sales across the group, which also owns the Gleneagles Hotel and golf courses in Perth-shire, were flat but the weak pound and cost-cutting pushed operating profits up by about £100million to £2.6billion.

Chief executive Paul Walsh said the firm had seen growth in vodka, rum, tequila and beer sales but gin and wine had been weaker in the period and whisky and liqueurs had been the biggest target for destocking among its customers.

He added: "This has been a very challenging year, Overall, however, our results demonstrate the resilience of the business.

"While the global economy appears to be stabilising, there is still uncertainty as to the sustainability and pace of any recovery.

"That being recognised, we expect to deliver low single-digit organic operating profit growth in fiscal 2010."

Its shares fell 4% to 956p.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

26 Aug

Scottish Power Plans Tidal Energy for Island

Scottish Power Ltd plans to supply all the electricity for the island of Islay through a 10 megawatt tidal energy project with Diageo Plc, the Guardian reported, without saying where it got the information.

The energy company, a unit of Spain's Iberdrola SA, is close to signing a contract with the drinks group to provide electricity to eight distilleries and maltings on the western Scottish island as well as its 3,500 inhabitants, according to the newspaper. The underwater turbines that will generate the power are expected to be working by 2011, the newspaper said.

Article Courtesy of Bloomberg


25 Aug

Rare whisky collection auctioned

A rare collection of about 3,000 bottles of whisky is to go under the hammer at auction later this year.

The bottles are the legacy of a late US whisky enthusiast and is said to be the largest and most varied yet to appear at auction.

Californian Willard Folsom spent 18 years gathering Scotch malts after reading a newspaper article about them.

Whisky from Orkney to Speyside to the Lowlands is represented in the collection.

It features many commemorative bottles which will never be released again by distillers.

Martin Green, whisky specialist for Bonhams auctioneers, said: "In over 20 years of conducting whisky auctions, this is the most exciting collection I have ever handled.

"Many of the bottles included in the collection will never be released again or repeated by the whisky industry and so the sale of the collection provides the opportunity to buy many collectables of the future."

Mr Folsom's love affair with whisky began in 1988 when was inspired to try his first single malt by an article in USA Today.

The former United Airlines worker toured Scotland with his family to build up his collection. He died last year at the age of 64.

The whisky will be auctioned by Bonhams in Edinburgh on 18 November, with any remaining stock sold in New York and Hong Kong next year.

Article Courtesy of BBCi


24 Aug

Battle to save Johnnie Walker whisky jobs could lead to more redundancies, warn Diageo

DRINKS giants Diageo claim a plan to rescue 900 threatened whisky jobs could mean more redundancies in the end.

The firm, who will this week report profits of £2.7billion, said any Government alternative to their proposals may force them to move 30 per cent of their spirit bottling operations abroad.

Diageo plan to close the Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas grain distillery in Glasgow.

Bryan Donaghey, managing director of Diageo in Scotland, said: "We want to keep bottling Johnnie Walker in Scotland.

"By making that decision, we have already compromised ourselves from a purely financial viewpoint.

"What people tend to forget is that 30 per cent of the bottling activity in Cameronbridge is not Scotch. It is products such as gin, vodka and rum - spirits that do not have any heritage in Scotland whatsoever.

"At the moment, we can be competitive because we can invest and we have scale.

"Maintaining that efficiency and scale is very important and if we start to lose that scale we undermine the whole operation.

"The simple answer is yes, this bottling could move overseas. We produce Smirnoff all over the world so the argument is we can just disgorge it in different places."

The Diageo plant at Cameron-bridgeFife, produces pure grain spirit for brands including Gordon's and Tanqueray gin and Smirnoff vodka.


It bottles the brands, as well as Captain Morgan rum, Archers schnapps and Pimm's.

Donaghey claimed bottling of these brands could be moved overseas.

The firm wouldn't say how many jobs would go if the brands were bottled elsewhere.

On Thursday, Diageo will announce increased profits and soaring sales in the US and Europe.

Campaigners have vowed to continue to fight the plans to axe the Kilmarnmock and Port Dundas jobs.

But they were dealt a blow last week when a report labelled the closure plans "sensible".

The independent study by business experts was drawn up to offer alternatives to Diageo's plan to close the Ayrshire bottling plant.

It outlined two alternatives - slimming down the existing 1950s bottling hall or building a new, smaller facility on a greenfield site in Kilmarnock.

But the plans would still result in the loss of 257 jobs in the town.

Article Courtesy of Daily Record

Daily Record

22 Aug

Entrepreneur plots expansion as group eyes growth

Billy Walker, the owner of BenRiach Distillery Company, has unveiled an ambitious £7m investment plan to bolster its recently acquired GlenDronach whisky brand in stark contrast to the turmoil elsewhere in the sector.

The idea behind the multimillion-pound investment is to restore GlenDronach to its former glory - back in the 1960s, it was among the top five most popular malt whisky brands in the world - and to drive it into new global markets.

Walker's Larbert-based company, with the help of "two very entrepreneurial shareholders" in South Africa, acquired GlenDronach distillery, in Forgue, Aberdeenshire, in August 2008, after having had his "eye on it" for several years. He also owns BenRiach distillery near Elgin.

Walker, the former operations director at East Kilbride distiller Burn Stewart, revealed that over the next four years he will spend £5m on sherry casks, where future batches of GlenDronach will mature for up to 33 years, and a further £2m on brand promotion and raising staff levels.

"This is a real testament to our ambitions as a small whisky distiller," Walker said.

"We are making sure the whisky coming through is of the highest quality. We could have chosen to produce our whisky in a much cheaper way, but that would have affected the quality. As a small, niche distiller, that cannot be the way forward."

He added: "After the sherry casks, the remainder of the £7m will be for recruitment and promotion. We currently employ 30 people, and we're looking for another five right now."

Walker's decision to invest £7m in GlenDronach flies in the face of the current upheaval in the sector. The past few months alone have seen Whyte & Mackay announce plans to axe 100 jobs and rival Diageo threaten to slash another 900.

Whyte & Mackay has blamed the global recession as well as the UK's "punitive" taxes for the decision to axe almost a fifth of its workforce. At the same time Diageo warned its bottling operations could be moved abroad if Scotland does not remain globally competitive.

Nonetheless, Walker said: "The industry is still very strong. Malt whisky is a strong sector - especially at the premium end of the market.

"Personally, I think Diageo has been unfairly treated. In spite of the 900 jobs, they are committed to Scotland, and they employ thousands here.

"At the end of the day, we're pursuing the same dream as Diageo - to sell good malt whisky all over the world."

Asked about his decision to acquire GlenDronach distillery, he said: "We had our eye on it for ages. Back in the 1960s, when it was owned by Teachers, it was one of the top five malt whiskies in the world - albeit the malt whisky industry in those days was much smaller. It has gradually fallen out of view, but it has maintained a kind of cult status.

"In 2002, Allied Distillers re-activated the distillery, which had been mothballed since 1996, to keep up with demand for whisky used in its blended brands. Very little went into bottles as malt.

"By the time Pernod owned the distillery, the brand had moved away from the centre of the radar. There were less than 20,000 bottles sold as malt whisky when we acquired it.

"GlenDronach was non-core to them, but for us it was a real opportunity."

Walker added that in the first year of ownership, a number of new "expressions" have been added and around 150,000 bottles have been sold worldwide.

"After five years, we expect to sell more 240,000 bottles. Our plan is to restore GlenDronach restore it to where we think it belongs."

Article Courtesy of The Herald

The Herald

20 Aug

Glasgow's whisky expert back in good spirits after life-threatening accident

WORLD-CLASS whisky blender Richard Paterson feared his career might be cut short when his drinking hand was sliced by a historic knife.

Richard, of Glasgow-based Whyte & Mackay, was rearranging a knife and sword collection in the firm's Glasgow blending room when the horror accident happened.

An 18th century Bowie knife, which belonged to James Bowie who fought at the Battle of the Alamo, crashed off the wall and cut his fingers.

He injured tendons on his right hand - which he uses to lift blending glasses to his expert nose.

Master blender Richard, whose nose is insured for more than £1million because of his uncanny ability, had a plaster cast on his injured hand for three weeks. He feared his drinking hand might never be used again.

But he was celebrating this week with a dram after the cast was removed and his hand given the all-clear.

Richard said: "I rearrange the sword and knives from time to time. This time the Bowie knife came crashing down and struck my hand.

"There was a bit of blood and I had to get it seen to in hospital. There was a fear that the tendons might not heal properly.

"If I had wanted to keep drinking whisky with my right hand, I would have had to keep it in the shape it was with a cast, which was ridiculous. My hand looked like a Lego model.

"But it has healed or I would have had to use my left hand all the time which would have taken a lot of adjustment.

"The hand is still a little tender but I've been having a few drams from our range to celebrate my recovery.

"I wonder now if I should get my hands insured too. After all my nose is insured for more than £1million so perhaps I should get an extension on that policy."

Richard, who is regarded as one of the foremost whisky experts in the world, has also been able to resume his popular website where he reveals some of the secrets of his trade at:

Whyte & Mackay recently announced a major review of its 574 employees. This could lead to the loss of up to 85 jobs in Scotland.

Article Courtesy of The Glaswegian

The Glaswegian

20 Aug

Row as Islay grain silos get go-ahead

Structures to be built on same spot as one which collapsed sending debris into house gardens

A drinks giant has been granted permission to replace two huge grain silos close to houses and in the same spot where one holding 800 tons of grain collapsed last year.

Families in the houses neighbouring the maltings at Port Ellen on the famous whisky-producing island of Islay were evacuated for two days last November when barley and debris spilled into their gardens.

The malting facility, owned by Diageo, serves six of the island's eight distilleries.

Argyll and Bute Council's planning committee yesterday gave the go-ahead for the new silos, despite a petition signed by 98 people objecting on health and safety grounds and six letters of objection from the neighbours at Bay View and Antrim View.

The council received only one letter of support for the development.

Niall Colthart, of 9 Bayview, said: "It was purely by the luck of God when it fell down that nobody was killed or injured. How they can justify putting them back up there even with health and safety conditions, is beggars belief."

Argyll Community Housing Association (Acha) properties 1-6 Bay View, were among those evacuated. Acha chief executive Alastair MacGregor said: "We are obviously concerned that this silo collapsed and spilled into our tenants gardens and that this could potentially happen again. It was fortunate that this took place during the night and not when there were children playing or people hanging up their washing.

"We are disappointed that an approval has not been granted that would relocate the silos on site, further away from human habitation."

Diageo investigations revealed the 17-year-old silo collapsed after suffering corrosion. The replacements will have additional coating to protect them.

Senior planner Richard Kerr said that siting them anywhere else within the maltings would mean considerable extra cost and operating difficulties for Diageo.

Mr Kerr said: "Unless they can replace the storage facility they have lost they will have to import processed malt from the mainland to support whisky production on the island."

Councillor Bruce Marshall said: "It is terribly important that this firm is able to continue producing whisky on the island."

Island councillor Robin Currie wanted to continue the decision for further information but did not get support.

The application was approved subject to the condition that Diageo producing a report recommending the best boundary for the site.

A spokeswoman for Diageo said: "We are fully committed to delivering a solution, and have shared the detailed design work undertaken to demonstrate how we intend to resolve current issues."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

19 Aug

Swinney: Case against Diageo closures gains momentum

Finance Secretary John Swinney believes the case against Diageo's plans to cut 900 jobs in Ayrshire and Glasgow is "gaining momentum".

Speaking after the Cabinet, meeting in Aberdeen, discussed the Diageo issue, Mr Swinney confirmed that the Scottish Government now has an independent consultants' report on the proposals, which will be put to a meeting later today of the taskforce set up to oppose the plans.

The taskforce, comprising representatives of East Ayrshire and Glasgow councils, Scottish Enterprise, trade unions and local politicians from across the party divide, will gather at St Andrew's House this evening to discuss the report commissioned from consultants BDO Stoy Hayward into the proposals to close the Johnnie Walker blending and bottling plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow.

Diageo plans to streamline its Scottish operation, with Fife gaining 400 jobs at the expense of Glasgow and Ayrshire. The planned closure in Kilmarnock, historic home of the world's best-selling whisky, which has fuelled the backlash against Diageo.

The taskforce meeting, chaired by Mr Swinney, will discuss the report and use that information to begin drawing up its own counter-proposals to avoid the Kilmarnock and Glasgow closures.

Mr Swinney said: "This meeting is a crucial step forward and demonstrates that the substantial case against Diageo's proposed job cuts in Scotland is gaining real momentum."

Although the consultants' report is seen as crucial in developing an alternative business plan, it will not be made public because much of it is regarded as commercially sensitive.

Diageo has made it clear that it believes its strategy to streamline operations in Scotland is in its best interests in the fiercely competitive global spirits industry. It has promised to look at any counter-proposals, but says it would be surprised if these would provide advantages over its own carefully thought out plans.

Article Courtesy of The Herald

The Herald

17 Aug

Single malt whisky crowned the best in the world

Highland Park scoops leading accolade from drinks expert for second year in a row

HIGHLAND Park's 18-year-old single malt Scotch whisky has been crowned best spirit in the world for a second consecutive time.

The accolade was awarded by US independent whisky expert Paul Pacult in industry publication Spirit Journal.

Highland Park's latest honour marks yet another milestone for the Orkney brand, which has seen strong growth over the past four years.

Sales are up by 80% over the period, catapulting the Edrington Group subsidiary into the world's top 10 single malt Scotch whiskies for the first time in the distillery's 211-year history.

Highland Park global controller Jason Craig said: "We have had an incredible four years since setting out on an ambitious £18million masterplan for this hidden gem.

"It has since received numerous accolades for the quality of its spirit in markets such as the US but the icing on the cake has got to be being named best spirit in the world by one of the world's leading drinks experts."

The UK remains Highland Park's most important market but the brand is increasingly successful in Asia, where there is fast-growing demand for premium blends.

Mr Craig said: "We are now well-placed to grow sales of Highland Park and other Edrington expressions through two new sales-and-distribution companies we have established in Taipei and Seoul plus a regional headquarters in Shanghai."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

17 Aug

By-product of whisky to fuel power plant

Helius Energy has formed a joint venture with a consortium of Speyside distillers to build a combined heat and power plant that will be the first in the world to be fuelled by whisky by-products.

The £50m project will generate 7.2MW of electricity, which could be used onsite or exported to the National Grid - enough to power 9,000 homes.

The plant could also save more than 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year when compared with the distillers' current energy use.

A separate plant will turn the liquid co-product of making whisky, known as pot ale, into a concentrated organic fertiliser and an animal feed for use by local farmers.

Helius, which listed on Aim in 2006, was established to develop and operate biomass-fired renewable electricity generation plants.

It has formed a joint venture with the Combination of Rothes Distillers, which comprises the Edrington, Chivas Brothers, Glen Grant, Inver House Distillers, Diageo and Benriach distilling groups.

Frank Burns, general manager of Cord, said: "The ability to generate renewable heat and power and secure additional markets for our distillery co-products is an exciting development for the malt whisky industry on Speyside."

John Seed, managing director of Helius, said: "Biomass will play a major role in meeting the UK's targets for emissions reductions, and this is a model that has the potential to be rolled-out elsewhere. Drinking green whisky may give you a warm glow, but it'll also help to avoid warming the planet."

The plants will be built within the site of a Cord-owned processing facility at Rothes in Moray. Construction should begin next year and take about two years, creating up to 100 jobs.

Cord, which employs 21 people, was founded in 1904 to process the pot ale produced by whisky companies in the Rothes area.

Article Courtesy of Financial Times

Financial Times

15 Aug

Demand for inquiry into whisky industry

MSP wants parliament to have debate on all issues around 'national icon'

CONSERVATIVES in Perthshire have called for a Scottish Parliament committee inquiry into the whisky industry.

It comes as whisky firms are threatening to lay off staff and the Scottish Government plans to introduce a minimum price for each unit of alcohol.

The call was made as a major summit was held in Glasgow yesterday to discuss Diageo's threat, announced last month, to cut 900 jobs.

This month Glasgow-based Whyte and MacKay revealed it wants to shed 100 jobs - with its distillery at Invergordon likely to be affected - prompting fears that other firms may follow suit.

Alex Salmond's government is also under pressure to ditch its plans for minimum pricing.

Ministers believe it will help tackle drunkenness and health problems, but the industry claims it will push up the price of cheaper brands, such as own-label whiskies that represent 25%-30% of the market.

Mid Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser wants to see a Holyrood inquiry in order to see a full debate on one of Scotland's "national icons".

He said any inquiry by the economy, energy and tourism committee must examine minimum pricing.

"The whisky industry has been hit hard in recent months and I want to see a committee inquiry undertaken to examine the issues that currently face the whisky industry here in Perthshire and across Scotland," he said.

Campaigners fighting to save the 900 Diageo jobs yesterday buried their political differences to map out the next stage of their battle.

The summit brought together figures from the Labour, SNP, Lib Dem and Tory parties.

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson, who hosted the meeting with Glasgow council leader Steve Purcell, said later: "We leave more united than ever."

SNP Glasgow MSP Bob Doris said: "The employees are determined to protect their livelihoods and I am committed to fight alongside them for every Diageo job."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

14 Aug

Summit to fight for 900 whisky jobs

A summit aimed at saving up to 900 whisky industry jobs is taking place.

Campaigners will meet in Glasgow to map out the next stage of the campaign to save the jobs at Diageo.

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson and Glasgow council leader Steven Purcell will host a meeting with unions which will also include cross-party politicians.

Plans by the drinks giant to close its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock could cost 700 jobs in the town, with another 200 under threat in Glasgow through the planned closure of the Port Dundas grain distillery.

Labour said Kilmarnock MP Des Browne will attend the summit, along with Liberal Democrat, Tory, SNP, and East Ayrshire Council representatives.

Ms Ferguson said: "This summit is an opportunity for politicians and unions from both sites to get round the table.

"The workforces at the Kilmarnock and Glasgow sites stand united in their determination to save their jobs."

Article Courtesy of Carrick Gazette

Carrick Gazette

13 Aug

Cask in a van - Glendronach hits road in Belgium

Glendronach Distillery has come up with a quirky way to promote its new range of 12, 15 and 18-year-old malts in Belgium next month.

It has selected a single cask from the 1996 vintage, straight from one of the distillery's warehouses in Aberdeenshire, and is taking it round the back of a van!

"Cask in a Van" is the title of GlenDronach's unusual week-long road show.

Regional Sales Director James Cowan explained: "To help make our launch in Belgium more memorable, we're taking a delicious 1996 limited edition GlenDronach on the road in a special liveried van. As our advertising slogan says, we're taking the brand "on a journey of re-discovery".

"It's never been done before so it should be a great hit with Belgian malt whisky fans."

James came up with the idea in tandem with his Belgian importer Mario Groteklaes, who runs The Nectar in Heusden-Zolder.

Mario added: "We'll visit seven major customers for an in-store tasting of the new range of 12, 15 and 18-year-olds, plus a sample of the 1996 whisky straight from the cask which they can decant into their own personalised bottles. As it's a limited edition, it's going to be a highly collectable item.

"We will also undertake less formal tastings - for example a barbeque is planned in one of the Belgium market towns."

GlenDronach launched its new range of malts in April and the first 3000-bottle consignment sold out in Belgium in just three weeks.

Mario said: "GlenDronach has always been a well-known brand here, especially the "old" fifteen-year-old. That, and the good publicity given to the new fifteen and eighteen-year-olds by some Malt Maniacs, and on some forums, made it easy to introduce the new range to about one hundred specialised liquor stores throughout Belgium in just one week."

Watch out for the distinctive GlenDronach van somewhere in Belgium between 29 September - 3 October.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

12 Aug

Distiller raises a glass despite slump in turnover

Sales of Single malt brands contribute to improved profits at Morrison Bowmore

Distiller Morrison Bowmore, maker of the single malts Bowmore, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch, posted improved profits in 2008 despite a decrease in turnover.

This emerged in its latest annual report and accounts released yesterday by Companies House.

The directors said the fall in turnover reflected reduced activity in the bulk whisky market in line with their strategy of moving away from low-margin bulk and blend business. They said the company continued to concentrate on building its single malt whisky brands and increased its investment in Bowmore distilled on Islay and Auchentoshan distilled near Glasgow.

Glen Garioch is distilled at Oldmeldrum.

The directors said the improvement in profits was generated by the performance of single malt brands, with both Bowmore and Auchentoshan making significant contributions to the improvement.

The report noted that the investment behind growing single malt brands extends to the need to lay down additional stocks for sale in 12 years' time, but despite a substantial increase in stock borrowings were held flat at just under £28million.

Directors also report that, in March this year, Glasgow-based Morrison Bowmore announced an agreement with Drambuie Liqueur Company under which it is to provide Drambuie with supply chain services.

These cover whisky procurement, blending and bottling, warehousing and logistics, and the agreement will come into effect early next year.

The directors say this will double the size of Morrison Bowmore's bottling out- put.

The accounts show that the company, whose ultimate parent is Japanese drinks giant Suntory, made pre- tax profits in 2008 of £3.56million compared to £3.16million the year before.

Profits per each of its 177 employees improved to £20,000 from £18,000.

Turnover for the year was £37.11million, down from £39.66million in 2007.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

12 Aug

Speyside's Long Distance Route: Walking the whisky trail

Speyside's Long Distance Route offers wilderness and whisky in good measure, says Bill Llewellyn

Walking the highlands of Scotland conjures images of yomping in serious gear in heavy weather - but it doesn't have to be like that. Explore the Speyside Way and you can take in Britain's grandest hills, clearest waters and freshest air without bumping into the SAS on manoeuvres.

This Long Distance Route offers gentle gradients and spectacular scenery from its start at Buckie on the east coast to its finish 65 miles away at Aviemore. There are few places that aren't strikingly easy on the eye and the glassy, rushing waters of the Spey are often all you have for company.

If you take the Caledonian Sleeper train, Speyside isn't much more than a good night's rest away. There is access to the Speyside Way via the towns and villages sprinkled along the path. Spend each night in a different place to cover as much of this glorious area as possible.

Most towns along the way are small enough to preserve an air of uncluttered calm but large enough to offer a comfortable bed with shower or bath, a decent restaurant and one or two bars. Nearby are places that contain more than just beautiful scenery: Buckie is a working port with a cherished fishing tradition; Aviemore is an alpine-style resort.

This is also the whisky trail. Speyside is home to many famous makers of single malt Scotch. Some distilleries offer tours with tastings. Even for the teetotaler, it's an interesting insight into the relationship between alcohol and society. All are within driving distance (and some within walking distance) of the Speyside Way.

Travel by…

The Caledonian Sleeper from London Euston to Inverness. It is operated by ScotRail (, which offers "Bargain Berths" from £19 one way. The berths can be booked 12 weeks in advance but they sell quickly. Inverness has plenty of car- hire facilities, and Speyside is about an hour and a half's drive away. There are several bus services, too.

Stay at…

Buckie, Fochabers, Craigellachie and Grantown-on-Spey, all of which feature along the Way and are just a few minutes' walk off the path. All have b & bs or coaching inns that are cozy rather than luxurious. Prices tend to be between £60 and £80 per night, based on two people sharing a twin room. The Scottish Tourist Board's site ( offers many places to stay. In Craigellachie, the four-star Craigellachie Hotel ( is next to some of the Way's best walking and has a bar whose walls are lined with almost 700 whisky bottles.

Spend a morning…

On a tour of a distillery. It's best to check that the distillery you intend to visit has a tour available before setting off. Aberlour ( has a great tour for £10 and is close to the Speyside Way and Craigellachie. It is also a short walk from the Way's Visitor Centre.

Have lunch at…

The Boat Hotel ( at Boat of Garten, next to the wonderful Strathspey Steam Railway ( There is a station opposite the hotel, and after lunch you can hop on a steam train and peruse the landscape in comfort.

Spend an afternoon…

Enjoying the stunning views from the summit of Cairngorm. You don't have to walk: there is a bus from Aviemore town centre to a base camp where you board a funicular railway (; last ride up at 4pm, last one down at 4.40pm). Alternatively, there are guided walks.

Spend an evening…

At The Fiddichside Inn in Craigellachie, which has the kind of bar that has virtually disappeared from the landscape. No piped music, no television, no fruit machines; just a wood-panelled room with photos of gigantic salmon and anglers for company. The inn stands beside the river from which the Glenfiddich distillery takes its name. Food along the Way tends to be hearty walkers' fare, but in Grantown-on Spey, the Ben Mhor Hotel ( does an excellent pea risotto with local scallops, and great burgers.

At all costs avoid…

Shops selling overpriced tartans, tweeds and woolens.

For more information, contact…

The Speyside Way Visitor Centre: 01340 881266.

Article Courtesy of The Telegraph

The Telegraph

11 Aug

Pub in whisky protest

A GLASGOW pub has ditched Johnnie Walker whisky in protest at the planned closure of owner Diageo's bottling plant in Kilmarnock and grain distillery in the city with the loss of 900 jobs.

Lebowskis bar boss Graham Suttle has stopped selling brands made by Diageo at the Argyle Street watering hole.

To support the workers, stickers have been put on bottles behind the bar urging drinkers to boycott Diageo products and declaring: "Save the soul of Johnnie Walker. Keep it in Kilmarnock."

Article Courtesy of Evening Times

Evening Times

11 Aug

Major blaze at Angus malt suppliers out after 24 hours

Safety checks planned before workers go back in as there is 'risk of further outbreaks'

A major blaze was finally extinguished yesterday at a malt supplier's Angus premises.

Firefighters left Greencore's Glenesk Maltings at Hillside, near Montrose, yesterday after more than 24 hours at the site.

Jets of water were poured on to burning grain after more than 27 tonnes ignited at about 8.15am on Sunday.

The fire started in a kiln of grain on the second floor of the four-storey building.

At the height of the fire, flames burst through the roof as firefighters fought to contain the blaze.

Crews from Montrose, Brechin and Forfar attended, with an aerial platform summoned from Dundee.

Firefighters based at Blackness Road in Dundee continued dampening down the grain overnight before being relieved by a crew from Arbroath. The crew left the site at noon, although officers returned throughout the day to check for hot spots using a thermal-imaging camera.

Mark Crush, station manager at Montrose, said there is a risk of further outbreaks.

He said: "The site's operators will bring in a structural engineer to make sure it's safe to go in and clear the grain.

"As they do there might be further flare-ups if there are pockets underneath that have formed a crust. If the embers are exposed they might re-ignite.

"We would attend as and when required. We can't guarantee it's completely out until it has been emptied."

The Kinnaber Road site uses barley to make the malt needed for whisky.

A spokesman for the firm confirmed no members of staff were injured.

He said: "We are still assessing both the extent of the damage and the cause at the facility. It is not impacting on operations. We are still making and delivering malt to customers."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

06 Aug

Rare 50-year-old whisky auctioned

A single bottle of whisky has sold for £11,750 at auction in Glasgow.

The 50-year-old Macallan, a bottling of three casks distilled between 1926 and 1928, sold to a private collector in California at McTear's auctioneers.

It is the most expensive bottle sold this year and the most expensive 50-year-old bottle of Macallan ever sold.

The auction of collectable whiskies saw 574 lots sold for a total of almost £155,000, making it the largest sale of its kind in the world.

Also among the lots was a 60-year-old Royal Brackla which sold for £3,800 and a limited edition 1965 bottle of Ardbeg, which sold for £3,000.

The auction featured a record collection of 60 bottles of Macallan and also included bottlings from all the major distilleries in Scotland, including Springbank, Rosebank and Highland Park.

Andrew Bell, McTear's whisky specialist, said: "We knew that out of almost 600 different lots the Macallan Anniversary 50-year-old was the stand out bottle in the sale and it's quite clear that others agreed.

"Whisky collectors from across the world joined the sale by phone and through the internet and the price paid is a reflection of its importance to collectors and investors in whisky."

Article Courtesy of BBCi


06 Aug

Whisky makers upbeat about future despite 1,000 job cuts

Companies remain optimistic over the long-term global prospects for Scotch

Scotch whisky makers still have a bright future despite the double blow of up to 1,000 job cuts, the industry insisted yesterday.

The mood at many firms was upbeat as they looked beyond the current economic turmoil to the longer-term prospects for the nation's national drink.

Diageo, the company behind Johnnie Walker, Bell's and other whiskies, said last month it was cutting up to 900 jobs and provoked outrage by announcing the closure of its bottling plant at Kilmarnock.

On Tuesday, Glasgow-based Whyte and Mackay warned around 100 jobs could go as a result of a review being carried out in light of the economic situation and also a "punitive" UK legislative climate.

The job cutting has raised fears other whisky makers could follow suit, but there was little evidence of that yesterday and industry insiders insisted a domino effect was unlikely.

William Grant and Sons, based at Dufftown, said it had no plans to make any changes to its operations.

Family-run Grant is behind whisky brands including Glenfiddich and The Balvenie.

A spokesman for the firm, which employs more than 700 people in Scotland as part of a 1,000 global workforce, said: "There is no risk to jobs at William Grant. It is tough out there, but our brands are standing up well and people here remain positive." William Grant has three malt distilleries at Dufftown. It also has whisky and gin operations at Girvan in Ayrshire, and a customer service centre and bottling plant at Bellshill, Lanarkshire.

French drink giant Pernod Ricard was quiet on its plans for Scotland, with a spokesman saying only: "As a rule, we don't comment on speculation on sales or operations."

Pernod subsidiary Chivas Brothers employs 1,600 staff across 32 sites in the UK, including 29 locations in Scotland.

It operates 12 malt whisky distilleries, one grain facility and gin operations in London and Plymouth.

Paisley-based Chivas also has more than 300 bonded warehouses containing in excess of 6million casks of Scotch whisky.

Pernod-owned whisky brands include Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet and Ballantine's as well as the Aberlour, Strathisla, Longmorn, Scapa and Tormore single malts.

The Paris-based group's faith in The Glenlivet has meant a substantial expansion for its distillery near Ballindalloch on Speyside.

Rivals Diageo, Bacardi and Edrington Group have invested sums totalling hundreds of millions of pounds into Scotch whisky operations in the past few years in anticipation of strong global sales growth.

Edrington, whose key premium brands include The Famous Grouse, The Macallan and Highland Park, last month announced record pre-tax profits of £94.8million.

Ian Curle, the Glasgow firm's chief executive, said the group had seen a softening of demand in some of its main markets due to the global economic slowdown.

This was expected to affect growth ambitions in the short to medium term but Edrington, which employs 850 people in Scotland, was bullish about its long-term prospects. A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said yesterday: "The industry is well-placed to lead the economy out of recession. What we make today won't be Scotch for at least three years. There remains optimism about growing opportunities for Scotch around the world."

Work has begun on Glenmorangie's new bottling and office facility in Livingston.

The 12-acre site is expected to be completed by the middle of next year. It forms part of Glenmorangie's two-year investment programme, which also includes expansion of the Glenmorangie distillery at Tain.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

05 Aug

Whyte & Mackay blame job losses on Alistair Darling

WHISKY giants Whyte & Mackay yesterday blamed Alistair Darling for "forcing" them to shed jobs.

The firm confirmed plans - revealed in the Record yesterday - to axe 100 workers and blamed the Chancellor's tax rises.

Chief executive John Beard admitted it was "highly unlikely" that compulsory redundancies would be avoided.

But he said a restructuring plan was needed because of the UK's "punitive" tax levels.

He said: "The key driver is the combination of commercial reality and the economic environment.

"Certainly the state of the worldwide economy is pretty clear.

"But in the UK, we are confronted as an industry with a very punitive tax regime.

"Specifically in 2008, the excise duty rise was 13 per cent for whisky."

He said Whyte & Mackay, who also produce many supermarket own brands, had been hit harder as they were more geared to the UK market than other drinks firms.

He warned further tax hikes may cost more jobs.

The Scotch Whisky Association say the average price of a 70cl bottle of whisky is £10.35, of which £7.69 goes to the taxman.

Whyte & Mackay, founded in 1844, employ 574 people - 90 per cent in Scotland.

It is expected about 30 jobs will go from their grain distillery at Invergordon, Easter Ross, where 133 people work.

"Less than 30" are set to go at the firm's Glasgow city centre HQ, where 177 people work.

About 10 of 200 staff will go at the Grangemouth bottling plant.

Eight jobs at four malt distilleries are also set to go.

And 15 sales jobs south of the Border and overseas will be axed.

The GMB and Unite unions voiced hopes that compulsory redundancies would be avoided but Beard said: "I think that's highly unlikely.

Whyte & Mackay, owned by billionaire Indian drinks tycoon Vijay Mallya, announced the restructuring after speculation the firm had been put up for sale but failed to find a buyer.

Whyte & Mackay reported a £25million profit for the 18 months to the end of March last year.

Article Courtesy of Daily Record

Daily Record

05 Aug

Last surviving relative of Johnnie Walker accuses Diageo of betraying whisky workers - and her family

JOHNNIE Walker's last direct descendant has begged whisky giants Diageo: "Please think again before you ruin hundreds of lives."

The heartfelt message came from the whisky legend's great-granddaughter Betty Heath, 77.

She pledged her support to the fight to save 700 jobs at Diageo's plant in Kilmarnock - the town where Johnnie Walker became a legend and a hero.

Betty said of her great-grandfather: "He will be turning in his grave."

She was shocked when the Record tracked her down to her home in the far north of Scotland.

But she begged Diageo not to destroy her family's history by closing the Kilmarnock plant in Ayrshire where he gave his name to the world famous whisky in 1820.

Betty said: "I am the last surviving member of the Johnnie Walker family and this is my life and my legacy and I will do everything in my power to protect it."

The keen hillwalker, who now lives in Thurso, Caithness, said she backed the workers' battle to stop the closure 100 per cent.

And she called for a meeting with Diageo bosses t o convince them to reconsider.

Betty said: "I cannot bear to think of all the men, women and children whose lives will be destroyed because of sheer greed. It makes me very upset.

"It is all down to money. Pure and simple. Diageo don't care about the history or about the people who worked their fingers to the bone to help make their huge profits.

"They are being tossed aside like old rubbish, the firm don't give a damn. Do they have no conscience? "I support the people of Kilmarnock 100 per cent.

"I never knew my great grandfather but I know he would be horrified by all this. What he worked so hard to establish in his home town is being destroyed.

"He was a very proud man and I am extremely proud to be part of his family and his legacy.

"As I am the only surviving direct ancestor, I will fight in his name to do all I can to keep Johnnie Walker in Kilmarnock and to help save those workers' livelihoods.

"Johnnie Walker is who I am, he is my life, my ancestor and my family history."

Betty sent this message to Diageo: "I urge you to please reconsider before you ruin hundreds of lives and destroy everything my ancestor worked to establish.

"You are ripping the heart out of a community who has built everything around Johnnie Walker.

"If you close the bottling plant, you will kill off a town which has Johnnie Walker running through its veins. It is the only remaining industry and if it goes, there will be nothing left. Please find it in your hearts to save those jobs and keep my ancestor's legacy alive.

"Since I heard the news about the closure, my heart has been broken as Johnnie Walker's would be if he were still alive."

In a message to the workers, Betty pledged: "If there is anything I can do for those people in Kilmarnock and Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow who are losing their jobs, I will do it.

"I think a strike would be a good idea because it's people power and it will make these very rich bosses realise their worth.

"Taking Johnny Walker out of Kilmarnock is like moving Ben Nevis to Westminster. It does not make sense."

Betty revealed she had handed over a treasure-trove of priceless Johnnie Walker memorabilia passed down through generations of her family to United Distillers. It included etchings of the famous man and original papers.

Betty said:"Twenty years ago, I decided to hand over everything I had belonging to my great grandfather to United Distillers for safe keeping. I always feared they might be destroyed in my attack by fire or damp or something.

"Now I wish I hadn't done that."

She first heard about her famous relative when she was 13.

She still remembers the day her mum Jessie, who worked for the Clydesdale Bank, spoke to her in the kitchen of their home in Prestwick. She laughed: "I remember it as if it were yesterday. There was an advert for the whisky and this striding man. I always thought he was a mythical character.

"My mum was working in the kitchen and she said, 'Did you know that man was your great-grandfather?' "I was shocked and didn't believe her at first. It was like someone saying that your great-grandfather was James Bond or someone like that.

"I thought she was joking. I remember thinking, 'How can that be, he is a fictitious person. This can't be true'.

"My mum said she could prove it and brought out old papers and original etchings of the great man himself as they didn't have photographs in those days.

"Then she talked to me about Johnnie Walker and how he was a grocer in Kilmarnock who began dabbling in blending whisky.

"My mum was very proud of her family background and association with Johnnie Walker.

"My parents, who were both bankers with the Clydesdale, were old fashioned and didn't talk much about the family history with their children.

"It took my mum quite a bit to convince me that Johnnie Walker on the TV was a real person and he was my great grandfather. I was thrilled to bits and have been ever since.

"I am very proud to be his only living direct blood relative. I never had any children to hand down the legacy or any brothers or sisters.

"So it is all down to me to keep his legacy alive and do what I can to help the people of Kilmarnock."

Although Betty moved to Thurso in the 1970s when she married Bernard, 80, a retired teacher, her heart still lies in Kilmarnock.

She worked for many years as a council milk officer in the Kilmarnock area and has many fond memories of her life in the town. Betty also knew generations of families in Kilmarnock who worked at Johnnie Walker.

She joked: "I am sure you expected us to be a bit more grand and live in a big house but I hope we haven't disappointed you."

Although Johnnie Walker made a success of his business and became a world famous name, he never made anywhere near the fortunes Diageo are raking in now.

Betty and her family never benefited financially from his legacy but she did inherit a box of black label Johnnie Walker which was bought before World War II by her mum. Her husband Bernard made the box into a bird house for their back garden.

The whisky is long gone - the couple cracked open the first bottle in the case of a dozen to celebrate their marriage.

Betty said: "I now wish I had kept the case because it would have been worth a bit of money now. "However, we did enjoy the whisky and thought about great grandfather with every drop so it wasn't wasted."

She joked: "I hope I don't have folk queuing outside my door for miniatures after this appears."

Article Courtesy of Daily Record

Daily Record

04 Aug

Whisky job losses confirmed

Whyte and Mackay confirms review of its organisation leading to cuts in staffing.

Up to 100 whisky jobs are to go after Whyte and Mackay confirmed a review of its organisation could lead to the loss of 85 jobs in Scotland and another 15 sales jobs out with the country.

The Glasgow based spirits company, which employs 574 people, has entered formal consultation for the next month to review its options and look at ways of minimising the number of compulsory redundancies.

The company has held meetings over the last week with the Scottish Government ministers and officials, including the First Minister Alex Salmond.

Opposition parties, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International, and Highland and Islands Enterprise have also been briefed.

Chief Executive John Beard said: "It is with regret that I have to announce this review and the planned job losses. It will come as no surprise to anybody that a combination of the world wide economic situation and the punitive UK legislative climate means that only the fittest alcoholic drink companies will survive.

"For Whyte and Mackay this means taking the painful decision to review our structures and costs.

He added: "I can confirm that whilst this impacts all of our seven Scottish locations there will be no site closure as a consequence of this decision."

The company hopes that the decision to cut the jobs will ensure the company's future.

Whyte and Mackay was founded in Glasgow in 1844 and as well as the internationally-known blend, it also owns brands including Dalmore and Isle of Jura single malts, Glayva whisky liqueur and Vladivar vodka.

The company is currently owned by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya.

The news comes after drinks giant Diageo announced in July its plans to shut the Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas grain distillery in Glasgow. These closures could see 900 workers lose their jobs.

Article Courtesy of STV

July 2009 Scotch Whisky News

31 July

Bell's whisky supports Ashes

Diageo Great Britain, seller of the UK's leading brand of blended Scotch Whisky Bell's, has announced it will be the official bat sponsor of leading English batsman, Ian Bell, who has been recalled to the England cricket team for the Ashes test match.

Ian Bell says: "This is such an exciting summer for English cricket and also for me personally. I cherish playing for England and couldn't be happier than to be playing in the Ashes again.

"It is great when your performances are recognised and rewarded not only by the selectors but also now by the makers of Bell's Blended Scotch whisky.

"I am delighted to be working with the UK's favourite scotch whisky and thank them for their support - of course it helps that they have such a good brand name!"

Article Courtesy of Talking Retail

Talking Retail

31 July

Johnnie Walker's: Cheeky Diageo bosses launch new Kilmarnock whisky

DIAGEO delivered a massive slap in the face to its workforce this week as it unveiled a new Johnnie Walker whisky - bottled here in Kilmarnock.

The drinks giant shamefacedly described 'The John Walker' blend as "a fitting tribute to its founder".

And at a huge bash in front of invited VIPs and guests in Singapore, Diageo's top man in Asia, Jay Woo, continuously referred to the company's deep respect for the brand's past.

The pre-launch address is guaranteed to fan the flames between furious Hill Street staff and their employers.

Jay Woo said: "The House of Johnnie Walker is built on foundations that are nearly 200 years old.

"It is with the utmost respect for this heritage and with constant endeavour to maintain these foundations that Johnnie Walker has progressed through the last two centuries to become the greatest whisky house in the world."

Incredibly, Woo went on to say that The John Walker was a celebration of the company's progress and 'a tribute to its history, tying together their passion for perfection and mastery of the art of blending fine whisky'.

The John Walker blended scotch whisky, which Diageo says is the pinnacle of the 'revered Blue Label' marque, isn't officially launched until September.

But the first bottle is up for auction at Singapore's Changi airport for the next two weeks with bidding STARTING at $3000 in aid of the Smile Train cleft palate surgery charity.

The company says that this latest and 'most exquisite' addition to its portfolio has been created from a small number of rare and exclusive whiskies from distilleries that operated in the 1800s during its namesake's lifetime.

The bottle, and four more to be auctioned in the same way over the coming weeks, has been signed by master blender Jim Beveridge.

Beveridge said of the new whisky: "John Walker is watching over our shoulders as we blend."

Diageo's communications manager based in London, Rachael Shaw, would not comment on the poor timing of the unveiling but did say "all the people at Kilmarnock are extremely proud of this product."

She added: "This is a product that consumers have told us they want. It's aimed at our Asian market.

"The first run of this niche product was for just 330 bottles and it's of an excellent quality.

"We are investing in the Johnnie Walker brand and we want to create interest in Johnnie Walker so that it's a brand for the future."

Article Courtesy of Kilmarnock Standard

Kilmarnock Standard

30 July

Scottish attraction unveils 'whisky bus stops'

Edinburgh's Scotch Whisky Experience visitor attraction has unveiled two new 'push and sniff' bus stops in the city centre.

The first of their kind in the Scottish capital, they give travelers the chance to smell each of the four distinctive scents from Scotland's main whisky regions by pushing colour coded pods.

Situated outside Princes Mall on Princes Street and on Leith Street beneath the St James centre, the bus stops are intended to reflect the sensory focus of the £3m new Scotch Whisky tour at the nearby attraction.

The four regions - Lowland, Highland, Islay and Speyside - are investigated further in an interactive nosing and tasting session within the new tour, which is designed to encourage visitors to challenge their preconceptions of Scotland's national drink.

The Scotch Whisky Experience tour also incorporates a state-of-the-art barrel ride through the production processes, commentary and a visit to the World's Largest Collection of Scotch Whiskies.

Article Courtesy of


30 July

Single malt has £10,000 price tag

A single malt Scotch whisky is to go on sale for £10,000 a bottle, its distiller has announced.

The Glenfiddich Distillery described the 50-year-old single malt as "the pinnacle of our whisky-making excellence".

It will release just 50 bottles every year for the next decade.

They will be sold in selected airports across the world for the next few months, before being made available through a small number of retailers.

The whisky has been kept in two casks in the Banffshire distillery's warehouse for 50 years.

Each hand-blown, numbered bottle will be decorated in Scottish silver and presented in a hand-stitched, leather-bound case.

The bottles will be accompanied by a leather-bound book which details the history of the whisky. It will also have pages for the owner to make their own tasting notes.

Buyers will receive a certificate signed by four of the distillery's long-serving craftsmen.

Peter Gordon, chairman of Glenfiddich distillery owner William Grant & Sons, said the whisky was "flawless".

Mr Gordon, the great-great-grandson of distillery founder William Grant, said: "We're happy to wait as long as we need to - up to 50 years in this instance - to produce the perfect whisky.

"The Glenfiddich 50 Year Old is the pinnacle of our whisky-making excellence and epitomises my great-great grandfather's vision of creating the very 'best dram in the valley'.

"Every new year is important when it comes to making exceptional whisky - and Glenfiddich 50 Year Old is the ultimate expression of this pioneering foresight."

In 2006 a bottle of whisky believed to be the oldest in existence was auctioned in London.

The Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky is said to have been bottled about 150 years ago at the Glenavon Distillery in Banffshire and was bought for £14,850.

Article Courtesy of BBCi


28 July

MSP accuses Salmond of hypocrisy

Lib Dem says first minister's pricing plans could cost whisky industry 'great deal of money'

First Minister Alex Salmond has been accused of hypocrisy over his policies on the whisky industry.

At the weekend he joined 20,000 marchers in Kilmarnock protesting against plans by drinks giant Diageo to close the Johnny Walker bottling plant. When combined with the company's proposal to shut the Port Dundas distillery, in Glasgow, 900 jobs are at risk.

However, the Scottish Government is pressing ahead with plans for a minimum price on alcohol to combat binge drinking, despite the Scotch Whisky Association saying the move will push up prices and have worldwide repercussions for sales.

Chief executive Gavin Hewitt told the P&J that 70p per unit would nearly double the price of an average bottle of whisky, while 40p would push the price up by more than the last two whisky taxes combined.

North-east Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles said the government was failing to listen to what the industry was saying.

"I think it is absolutely appalling that we have Mr Salmond marching at the head of so many people trying to save the whisky industry in Kilmarnock when his own plans could cost the industry a great deal of money, if not millions," he said.

"It is sheer hypocrisy. Unfortunately, it brings all politicians into disrepute when we cannot have an open approach."

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said: "The two issues have absolutely nothing in common, and when everyone else in Scotland is coming together to fight for whisky jobs it is ridiculous that Mike Rumbles should break ranks in this way."

Own-brand whiskies represent 25-30% of domestic sales.

The association said in March that the average price of a 70cl bottle of blended whisky was £10.55, below 40p per unit.

At 40p per unit Sainsbury's and Asda's own-brand whiskies - both £10.18 - would go up by £1.02. A bottle of Clan MacGregor (£9.68 in Tesco) would go up by £1.52 and a bottle of High Commissioner (£8.79 in Asda) would go up by £2.21.

It said some people were talking of 50p a unit, which would make the average price of a 70cl bottle £14 and a litre £20.

Association director Campbell Evans said if ministers were successful in persuading the EU and World Trade Organisation to allow minimum pricing, it would undermine the principle of free trade which has protected sales of Scotch around the world.

"The long-term damage this would have on Scotland's economy needs to be appreciated by ministers," he said.

Mr Salmond's spokesman said: "Minimum pricing would actually stop premium products such as Scotch whisky being undermined by high-strength beers and ciders sold for pocket-money prices, which are the drinks that are being misused."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

27 July

Whisky brand Whyte & Mackay has created customised blends for Scottish celebrities

The chosen few include Gordon Brown, Andy Murray and Sean Connery, who will enjoy their own whisky made by master blender Richard Paterson.

Paterson said: "Just like Scotland, whisky is packed full with a plethora of different characters and individual quirks.

"These whiskies are one-offs and so won't be available to buy but should their namesakes be keen to sample them I'd be more than happy to give them some tips on how to nose and taste their personal whiskies."

Based on the success of the Scottish celebrity whiskies, Paterson also selected some international stars to base a blend on.

He said: "Whisky is one of Scotland's greatest exports and is appreciated around the globe. Therefore, it seemed only right to pick some international names to name a new whisky after, such as Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and even Homer Simpson."

Andy Murray's whisky is described as, "a young, vibrant, aggressive whisky which is likely to get even better with age as it mellows, but still has an incredibly focused flavour", while Sean Connery's blend, "brings in some of the well-aged malts and is matured in sherry casks (to reflect his Mediterranean looks)."

Others include a "feisty" Gordon Ramsay blend, and Alastair Darling's blend — "one of the most expensive whiskies ever created. This is a high brow dram that comes with a budget defying price tag".

Article Courtesy of Morning Advertiser

Morning Advertiser

27 July

Whisky firm's master blender bows out

Man retires after three decades nosing fine spirits

A whisky master blender is retiring after almost three decades smelling some of Scotland's finest spirits.

John Ramsay, 60, started in the industry in 1966 as a chemist and became a master blender in 1981 before joining his current employer the Edrington Group in Glasgow in 1991.

When asked how many whiskies he had "nosed" in his career, he said: "Obviously it must run into the millions but I haven't had the chance to sit down and do the arithmetic."

Mr Ramsay will work his last day on Friday as master blender.

He is responsible for overseeing the quality of the whisky portfolio, including best-selling blends such as The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark.

Mr Ramsay, who lives in West Lothian, said he would be looking forward to "getting on top" of his garden, reducing his golf handicap and visiting wine-producing regions including South Africa and California during his retirement.

Gordon Motion will take over as the company's master blender.

Speaking about his career, Mr Ramsay said: "I'm most proud of receiving the International Spirits Challenge trophy award in 2007 for The Famous Grouse 30-year-old blended malt.

"Beating off competition from over 700 spirits, both single and blended malts, to be named best overall malt whisky by my fellow peers was a real honour.

"That was a very proud moment. After all it was my creation, my blend.

"I've had an immensely enjoyable career with Edrington, which has taken me all around the world, and I would like to extend thanks to all of my colleagues who have been such a fantastic support."

Mr Motion said: "It's an incredible privilege to be the successor to John, the doyen of blenders.

"John has been an inspiring mentor to me over the last 10 years working as his assistant and particularly over the last two and a half years as I've stepped into the master blender role.

"I am looking forward to continuing the tradition that has gone on for over a century and want to ensure that our enviable portfolio of blended and single malt whiskies continue to be enjoyed and respected around the world."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

27 July

Thousands join march for whisky jobs

Drinks giant under fire over bottling plant closure plans

An estimated 20,000 people took to the streets of a Scottish town yesterday to protest over plans to axe 900 whisky jobs.

Thousands of people marched through Kilmar-nock, Ayrshire, where Johnnie Walker whisky is bottled. Drinks giant Diageo has announced plans to close the plant, along with its Port Dundas grain distillery in Glasgow, risking 900 jobs.

Workers at the plants yesterday joined politicians, union chiefs and former members of staff and others to take part in a protest against the closures.

Players from Kilmarnock FC also joined in the demonstration, which ended with a rally in the town's Kay Park.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: "This is the first time I can remember the entire football team squad demonstrating with the local community in support of a workforce under pressure."

Mr Salmond and Labour's Des Browne, the MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun, were among the politicians who addressed the crowd.

The first minister said: "The tens of thousands at the demonstration today in Kilmarnock is a demonstration of the absolute willingness and determination in this town and this community to keep Johnnie Walker in this community. So let's have no more nonsense from anyone that these proposals are in any way socially acceptable to the people of Scotland."

Mr Salmond said politicians from all parties had come together with union leaders and others to form a "mighty coalition".

He vowed an alternative business case would "dispute Diageo's contention that their answer is the only answer" and would "demonstrate there is an economic alternative" to closure.

He also said, while the business plan was being produced, it was "far, far too early" to consider a boycott of Diageo products.

Mr Browne, the former Scottish secretary, hailed the turnout at the protest.

Describing how marchers had packed Kilmarnock's John Finnie Street, he said: "I am told it takes 20,000 people to fill it. It was filled today, we overfilled it."

Mr Browne added: "We have a message for Diageo today - you have got this wrong. You have underestimated the relationship between this community and wider Scotland and your industry." He then told bosses at the drinks company: "You have to think again."

The MP said he did not underestimate how difficult it would be to get Diageo to reverse its plans, but added: "There is a determination among all of us that we will come up with an alternative."

Union leader Len McCluskey insisted it was possible to force Diageo to rethink its plans.

Mr McCluskey, assistant general secretary of Unite, said: "I don't take the view that because a multinational company has made a decision we can't change it. We can, people power and organised labour can change it, and we intend to change it."

He hit out at the proposed closures and said: "Let's be absolutely crystal clear right from the outset, this decision is borne out of greed, nothing else. Greed is their creed and we need to expose that.

"This is a company that made £2.2billion profit last year and has already declared half yearly profits of £1.6billion. This is a company that does not need to take the drastic decisions that they have that will damage and destroy families."

Scottish Tory Leader Annabel Goldie said the event sent "a very powerful message to Diageo that there is anger and bewilderment at this decision".

She added there was throughout Scotland a "passionate determination to require Diageo to reconsider".

Andrew Morgan, the president of Diageo Europe, has already said the decision to close the Kilmarnock bottling plant was thought to be the best option for the company.

Earlier this month he said: "For the long-term health of the business I'm convinced it's absolutely the right thing for us to be doing."

Diageo has said it will "offset" the closures with 400 new jobs at its Fife packaging plant. As well as the Fife expansion the drinks firm has said a coopering centre will be created in Clackmannanshire.

Meanwhile Michael McMahon, Labour's Scottish business manager, has written to the Scottish Government calling on Mr Salmond to make a statement on Diageo's proposals when MSPs return to Holyrood in September.

Labour vowed if ministers did not make a statement on the matter, they would raise it in a members' debate. Labour urged Mr Salmond to make a statement in Holyrood on September 2.

If that does not happen Patricia Ferguson, the MSP for Glasgow Maryhill, will raise the issue in a members' debate the following day.

Ms Ferguson said: "It is right that the issue is debated in the Scottish Parliament so we can be satisfied that the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise are doing all they can to save the jobs.

"We want to maintain the cross-party consensus which has been the hallmark of this campaign, but if the SNP fail to bring forward a debate we will do it at the first opportunity open to us."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

23 July

Doubles all round as whisky maker's pre-tax profits soar

Burn Stewart Distillers, the East Kilbride-based whisky maker, was yesterday in high spirits after almost doubling pre-tax profits on the back of significant growth in its international markets and the success of its turnaround strategy.

The company's upbeat news comes on the heels of its victory at the International Spirits Challenge 2009 earlier this month, where it scooped two gold and four silver medals across its brands, including its Bunnahabhain 25-year-old single malt.

Fraser Thornton, the distiller's managing director, told The Herald that pre-tax profits came in at £650,000 for the 2008 calendar year, compared with £380,000 the year before.

"We're very pleased - considering that back in 2005 we posted a £3m loss," said Thornton. "This is really a story of progress and I'm glad to say we're moving in the right direction."

Thornton said that over the course of 2008, the company sold some 52 million bottles of whisky - around 10% better than the previous year - with some 80% of its sales now in international markets.

Over the past few years, the company has shifted focus from supplying own-label spirits to supermarkets to promoting its own brands at home and overseas.

Burn Stewart, which employs 250 workers, now only supplies own-label goods to Marks & Spencer.

Exports currently account for around 80% of sales by volume, compared with 50% five years ago.

While turnover slipped to £43m last year, compared with around £45m in 2007, Thornton said the accompanying rise in profits was a testament to the company's strategy and improved margins.

One of the key drivers in the progress is the continued growth of Scottish Leader in Taiwan.

Article Courtesy of The Herald

The Herald

22 July

Salmond offers an alternative to 900 whisky job losses

First minister meeting with diageo chief executive to discuss closure options

First Minister Alex Salmond said yesterday that there was a "powerful counter-argument" to drinks giant Diageo's proposals to axe 900 whisky jobs.

He was speaking ahead of a meeting today with Diageo's chief executive, Paul Walsh, to discuss the situation.

Earlier this month the company announced plans to shut its historic Johnnie Walker whisky bottling plant in Kilmarnock.

The Johnnie Walker closure will account for 700 of the threatened job losses in Scotland while the others will come if the Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow is closed.

Diageo argues that the redundancies would be offset by the creation of 400 jobs at its packaging plant at Leven, Fife.

A joint campaign against the closure has been launched by various bodies including the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow and East Ayrshire Councils, trade unions and local MPs and MSPs.

They are putting together an alternative business plan which will be presented to Diageo next month.

The first minister will be accompanied by Jack Perry, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, at today's meeting.

Mr Salmond said: "This is a substantive meeting, and we are looking for assurances from Diageo that the alternative business case that will be presented by the joint campaign next month will be properly considered, and not in any sense dismissed out of hand.

"We are convinced that the joint campaign can present a powerful counter-argument to Diageo's proposals.

"We also think that, with goodwill on all sides, then movement is possible towards a position which would be better and more acceptable to Scottish opinion, as well as meeting Diageo's key financial objectives."

Diageo's managing director of global supply and global procurement David Gosnell will also be at the meeting, which will take place at the company's headquarters in London.

Mr Salmond said: "Scotch whisky certainly has challenges in the international marketplace at present, but it also has huge advantages, among which are provenance, loyalty and reputation.

"All of these would argue for a different outcome, which I believe is possible, and all the efforts of the joint campaign are focused on that key objective."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

21 July

Celebrities back whisky workers

The campaign to stop the drinks giant Diageo closing the Johnnie Walker whisky bottling plant in Kilmarnock has received celebrity backing.

Musicians such as Eddi Reader and actor Gregor Fisher, who lives near the plant, are among the well-known faces offering support to the campaign.

Some are expected to take part in a march through the town on Sunday.

The support comes ahead of a meeting between First Minister Alex Salmond and Paul Walsh, chief executive of Diageo.

The march on Sunday is being held in support of the 700 packaging workers who would be put of work by the closure.

Mr Fisher said: "If the closure was forced because the company is losing money I could understand.

"But Diageo are raking it in. The closure is happening to due corporate greed.

"They care not a jot about Kilmarnock or Port Dundas, nor do they care about the generations of workers who have lined their shareholders pockets.

"I wouldn't normally get involved in any campaign to save a business or site, but this just stinks."

There is backing also from film actor Gary Lewis, who appeared in Gangs of New York and Billy Elliot.

The endorsements are being co-ordinated by East Ayrshire Council, which is also organising the weekend march.

It has gained support from The Proclaimers, The Trashcan Sinatras and Kilmarnock band Biffy Clyro.

Modernising operations

Diageo has explained its decision to close the bottling plant and end the link between Johnnie Walker and Kilmarnock going back to 1817, while it also wants to close the Port Dundas distillery and cooperage in Glasgow, with the loss of 200 further jobs.

It wants to invest £100m in a packaging plant in Fife, along with a new cooperage near Alloa, which would involve creating 400 new jobs.

Its managers say that should make annual savings of £20m, and that this is necessary to modernise its operations to ensure Scotch whisky can compete in the global drinks market.

A joint campaign against the closure has been launched by various bodies including the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow and East Ayrshire Councils, trade unions and local MPs and MSPs.

They are putting together an alternative business plan which will be presented to Diageo next month.

Article Courtesy of BBCi


17 July

GlenDronach Releases Single Cask Batch One

The new owners of GlenDronach Distillery have selected five vintages for their first series of single cask bottlings since taking over the distillery last year.

In Batch One they have singled out malts from 1971, 1972, 1992, 1993 and 1996 in ages ranging from 38 to 13 years old.

All five are in the traditional GlenDronach style - richly sherried, from Oloroso Sherry Butts - and are being bottled this month.

Regional Sales Director Alistair Walker said: "Dating back to 1826, there have been few if any single cask bottlings from GlenDronach, so the launch of Single Cask Batch One is particularly significant and will be welcomed by our customers.

"We will repeat this exercise each year, hand-selecting a small number of the very best casks from the distillery warehouses to release as Single Cask bottlings."

Alistair added: "Each will be bottled at cask strength, at natural colour and non chill filtered. Bottles will be individually numbered by hand and will be housed in a deluxe gift box."

Batch One is being marketed in fifteen countries worldwide, with shipments to the UK, Europe, South Africa, Asia and New Zealand scheduled for the first week of August.

The full cask list is:

1971 cask 483, 38 years old
1972 cask 719, 37 years old
1992 cask 1140, 16 years old
1993 cask 523, 16 years old
1996 cask 193, 13 years old

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

17 July

Moray whisky firm wins royal toast with Queen's award

Gordon and MacPhail honoured

A MORAY whisky firm has received royal recognition for its work to promote Scotland's national drink abroad.

Elgin-based Gordon and MacPhail was one of nine Scottish businesses to pick up a Queen's Award for Enterprise out of more than 1,000 companies from across the UK which applied.

Yesterday the firm's joint managing director, Michael Urquhart, said it was a great honour, and he paid tribute to the hard work of all his staff.

He said the firm won the award in the international trade category after almost doubling its export figures.

"Over the past six years we have increased our export sales by 94%.

"It's a great achievement and a great honour."

Mr Urquhart and his team spend about three months a year visiting clients in countries as far afield as Russia, Japan and the US.

He said: "We spend a lot of time going round customers doing whisky tastings across the world.

"We export to about 35 to 40 countries on an annual basis.

"But it's not just about the export department.

"We've got to make the whisky and mature it and, in the case of Benromach, distil it as well. It's a whole team effort."

Gordon and MacPhail is a family-owned company which has been involved in the whisky industry for more than a century.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

16 July

Benriach distillery company wins ten awards at international wine and spirits competition

THE LARBERT-BASED Benriach Distillery Company is celebrating after winning an impressive ten top awards in the prestigious 2009 International Wine and Spirits Competition.

Founded in 1969, The International Wine and Spirit Competition is the premier competition of its kind in the world. Its aim is to promote the quality and excellence of the world's finest wines, spirits and liqueurs.

IWSC medals and trophies are the most highly regarded in the trade, representing the best of the best in the world of wine and spirits.

The Competition received more than 7000 entries from over 80 countries.

In results published today (July 16), the company entered 10 whiskies from both its BenRiach and GlenDronach brands, and won 10 medals - 1 Gold, 8 Silver and 1 Bronze.

GlenDronach has four expressions and all four won medals including a Gold and Best in Class for its 15 year-old 'Revival' while B enRiach won a further six awards including two Silver and Best in Class.

The company's awards were:

GlenDronach Medals
Gold Best in Class GlenDronach 15YO 'Revival'
Silver Best in Class GlenDronach 33YO
Silver GlenDronach 12YO Original (new 2009 version)
Silver GlenDronach 18YO Allardice

BenRiach Medals
Silver Best in Class BenRiach 'Maderensis Fumosus' 13YO Peated / Madeira Finish
Silver Best in Class BenRiach 16YO
Silver BenRiach 12YO
Silver BenRiach 'Curiositas' 10YO Peated
Silver BenRiach 'Authenticus' 21YO Peated
Bronze BenRiach 15YO Dark Rum Finish

The judges' Tasting Notes for the GlenDronach 15 year old "Revival" commented: "Great concentration of complex aromas on the nose including treacle toffee, chocolate, orange, toasted nuts and vanilla. Great depth in the mouth, with all the nose promised, plus some Demerara sugar, sweet malt and lots of toast. Great balance with firm tightness which is offset to a degree by lots of mellow notes. Long finish has distinct gingery note."

Managing Director Billy Walker said: "We are absolutely delighted that ten of our expressions have been recognised at such a prestigious competition. The award reflects the incredibly hard work of our team and underscores the outstanding quality of our two brands."

The company has won a number of awards in recent years. In February this year the BenRiach Distillery beat off competition from around the world to win the coveted "Icons of Whisky" award in London.

BenRiach was also "Distillery of the Year" in the 2007 Malt Advocate Magazine Whisky Awards.

Whisky Magazine named it the "Best Rare Speyside" (for BenRiach Authenticus 21 Year Old) at its World Whisky Awards, also in 2007.

And it won Gold Medal (for BenRiach 16 year old) at the 2006 International Wines and Spirits Competition.

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

16 July

Whisky expert to give up his prestigious position

He retires after 40 years in the industry

A WHISKY expert at Scotland's oldest working distillery is to retire after 40 years in the industry, it was announced yesterday.

John Ramsay, the 60-year-old master blender for the Edrington Group's Glenturret Distillery, Perthshire, will leave his prestigious post on July 31.

The position is one of only six among the major Scottish distillers and is considered to be one of the most important roles in the whisky industry.

Master blenders, who are known for their skill in the fine art of nosing whisky, check the quality and consistency of up to 600 samples a day.

In addition to an acute sense of smell, a master blender must not wear aftershave or eat garlic, which can impair the senses.

Since joining the Edrington Group in 1991, Mr Ramsay has worked between the distillery at Crieff and the group's sampling rooms in Glasgow.

His charges include The Glenrothes, The Macallan and Highland Park single malts, and The Famous Grouse.

Managing the sample rooms, stock management and cask selection are among the responsibilities of a master blender, while overseeing 8,735 quality checks from cask to glass.

After a two-and-a-half-year handover, Gordon Motion will take over as the company's new master blender.

Mr Ramsay said: "Looking back, there are a number of highlights that really stand out, from creating Highland Park 18, 25 and most recently 40-year-old expressions, and moving The Glenrothes whisky to a vintage.

"I've had an immensely enjoyable career with the Edrington Group which has taken me all around the world and I would like to extend thanks to all of my colleagues who have been such a fantastic support."

Mr Motion said it was an incredible privilege to be the successor to John Ramsay, the doyen of blenders.

He added: "I am looking forward to continuing the tradition that has gone on for more than a century and want to ensure The Famous Grouse continues to be enjoyed and respected as one of the finest whiskies in the world."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

16 July

Two new Glendronach "fascinating and fabulous" casks snapped up by banff's parker's whisky

GLENDRONACH has made available two single cask bottlings to Banff-based Parker's Whisky, providing 1200 stunning bottles from 1992 and 1994.

One is a GlenDronach 1992 Single Cask, Cask # 401. It was distilled 10 July 1992, bottling July 2009, aged 17 years old, and matured in Oloroso Sherry Butt with a cask strength of 58.8%.

The other is a GlenDronach 1994 Single Cask, Cask # 2311. It was distilled 25 November 1994, bottling July 2009, aged 14 years old, and matured in Oloroso Sherry Puncheon with a cask strength of 58.5%.

They are the first single cask distillery bottlings to be made available in the UK since Glendronach was purchased last year by Billy Walker and his associates at the BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd.

Available from late July, each 70cl bottle is individually numbered by hand and contains personal Tasting Notes from the author of the Whisky Bible, Jim Murray.

GlenDronach Regional Sales Director Alistair Walker said: "Richard Parker approached us with his interest in bottling a cask of GlenDronach towards the end of last year, before we had even started looking at our own selection of single casks to bottle, so it's fair to say he was pretty quick off the mark.

"We were delighted to make these two casks available to Richard, as GlenDronach is the local distillery for Banff and Parker's has been a good supporter of both of our malt brands, GlenDronach and BenRiach, over the last three or four years. The casks were personally selected by Richard himself and he clearly has good taste, as the chosen casks are truly exceptional."

Richard Parker said: "This is a big coup for us. We sampled a number of different GlenDronach casks and found two we especially liked. But they were so good, we couldn't choose between them so we ended up bottling both! We just came along at the right time and I'm delighted to say they're pre-selling really well."

Concluding that the malts are "fascinating and fabulous", Jim Murray's tasting notes underline how special and extraordinary the bottlings are - apparently the drams he tasted almost brought tears to his eyes! Selected excerpts from Jim's tasting notes follow:

GlenDronach 1994 cask 2311

Nose - playfully light... fragile barley... lazy nuttiness...
Taste - mouth-watering barley pounds the tastebuds relentlessly from the start... a lively character...
Finish - minty chocolate... hazelnuts and vanilla... considerable length...
Balance - quite unique to this little-known distillery... fascinating and fabulous!

GlenDronach 1992 cask 401

Nose - Molasses sweetens the high roast Java...
Taste - the palate is swamped in luxuriant, lush sugar-coated burnt raisins...
Balance - ultra distinctive... unmistakable rum character on a sherry theme... a memorable and massive malt
Finish - excellent soft oils... a long fade... juicy barley finale...

Our pictures show the two bottlings.

For more information, contact

Article Courtesy of Press Release

Press Release

15 July

Family whisky firm profits rise

Ian Macleod Distillers, one of the largest independent family companies in the UK spirits industry, has announced a 53% rise in profits to £1.5m.

Based in Broxburn, the firm makes Glengoyne, King Robert II and Smokehead as well as gin, rum and vodka.

The group has combined total sales of more than one million cases, with 85% being exported to over 65 countries.

It said it had invested in its key brands as well as its Broxburn bottling plant and Glengoyne distillery.

Managing director, Leonard Russell, said: "We are also developing markets that have the best growth potential for our products, such as India and China."

The company said that because it was independent it could focus on the longer term, rather than short-term returns for shareholders.

Economic conditions have been challenging for the drinks group who said although trading overall was buoyant, the UK remained a difficult market.

The company which was founded in 1933, employs 185 people across three Scottish sites.

Article Courtesy of BBCi


15 July

Talks bid to save whisky jobs

Unions, politicians and councils hold top-level meetings

The latest step to try to save whisky jobs at closure-threatened Scottish sites got under way yesterday.

Unions, politicians and councils met to discuss how to stop drinks firm Diageo's closure and redundancy plans.

The company wants to shut its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock, and the Port Dundas grain distillery in Glasgow, threatening 900 workers with redundancy.

Diageo said it will "offset" the cuts with 400 new jobs at its Fife packaging plant.

Glasgow SNP MSP Bob Doris chaired the first of two meetings yesterday with economic development agency Scottish Enterprise on the future of the Port Dundas site.

He said: "Trade unions, politicians and the local authorities in Glasgow and East Ayrshire are united in fighting Diageo's job cuts across Scotland. This morning was a key step in bringing together the fight to secure jobs at Port Dundas and identifying key issues in this campaign."

A second meeting chaired by Finance Secretary John Swinney, and expected to involve Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow and east Ayrshire councils, unions, MPs, MSPs and the Scottish Government, was being held in Edinburgh last night.

Kilmarnock and Loudoun SNP MSP Willie Coffey, said: "There should be no doubt that the workers and campaigners at Johnnie Walker will not let this plant close without a fight, and that while Diageo might be big they will never be bigger than Johnnie Walker and its connection to Kilmarnock."

MPs are due to debate the closure plans in Westminster today.

East Ayrshire Council has organised a protest in Kilmarnock for Sunday July 26. The march starts from Howard Park at 1pm.

Diageo said it will invest £100million in "restructuring", which will see 900 workers lose their job over two years. As well as the Fife expansion, Diageo said a coopering centre will be created in Clackmannanshire. There will be no compulsory redundancies at sites for one year, the firm has said.

Labour economy spokes-man David Whitton said: "I have constituents who work at Port Dundas and everything must be done to protect their jobs. My colleague Patricia Ferguson, the local MSP, has written to Richard Bedford, the grain distillery director, asking whether there is an alternative to the total closure of Port Dundas by mothballing the plant. We also need to know if Diageo are prepared to conduct an independent financial assessment of Port Dundas as at Kilmarnock."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

14 Jun

Drinks gurus to clash online on how to drink whisky

Two of the world's great drinks experts are set to fight out the age-old dilemma of how to drink malt whisky live on the internet on Thursday night.

Richard Paterson, master blender at the Isle of Jura distillery, and Colin Field, head barman at The Ritz Paris, will debate their opposing views online at 7pm on July 16.

"For years I've been forced to stand by and watch as barroom dandies sully the world's greatest drink with a range of inappropriate mixers and sacrilegious frills, but enough is enough," said Paterson, who even considers ice an unnecessary distraction.

Field disagreed: "Single malt is a drink for anybody, anywhere, anyhow. The purists can complain about it as much as they like, but with the right mixers and a splash of imagination, it can be conjured into a world-beating taste experience that will knock the spots off anything the whisky snobs might offer."

He continued: "Their time is over, and I'm going to show the world how a new generation of drinkers takes theirs."

Fighting talk, find out if sparks fly on on Thursday at 7pm or see the trailer on YouTube at

Article Courtesy of Harpers


12 July

Warning over alcohol price plan

Plans for minimum alcohol prices could destroy the Scotch whisky industry, the Scottish Conservatives have warned.

Tory chief whip David McLetchie challenged ministers to "come clean" about what pricing levels would be set.

The proposals form part of the Scottish Government's strategy for tackling Scotland's drink problem.

A government spokesman said the Tory claims were "ridiculous" as the plans were aimed at cut-price promotions rather than "premium" products.

Mr McLetchie said a minimum price of 40 pence per unit could cost hundreds of jobs in the drinks industry.

He said: "He needs to come clean and tell Scotland what his plans are and how high drinks prices will go.

"Alex Salmond is the destroyer, not the saviour, of Scotch."

He said research by the British Medical Association and the University of Sheffield suggested the price should be at least 50 pence per unit of alcohol and that Mr Salmond was "terrified" of making a decision.

A spokesman for Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said Mr McLetchie's comments were "ridiculous and untrue".

He said: "Scotch whisky is a premium product which Scotland is proud of and belongs to an industry which this government fully supports.

"Minimum pricing will not affect such premium products and is instead aimed at ending the pocket money prices which are fuelling binge-drinking and adding to this nation's unbalanced relationship with alcohol."

Alcohol abuse costs the Scottish taxpayer around £2.25bn a year, he added.

Article Courtesy of BBCi


10 July

Commons to debate Diageo's proposals

Closure would make 900 jobless

DRINKS giant Diageo's plan to close its Johnnie Walker bottling plant is to be debated in the House of Commons, a MP said yesterday.

Last week the firm said it may shut the Kilmarnock factory and the Port Dundas grain distillery in Glasgow, which could see a total of 900 workers lose their jobs.

The Kilmarnock plant closure alone may see 700 jobs lost.

The Labour MP for the area, former Scottish secretary Des Browne, said he had secured a debate about the proposed closure.

Mr Browne, who represents Kilmarnock and Loudoun, said: "Diageo's proposals will have a devastating effect on my constituency - already East Ayrshire has one of the highest rates of unemployment and poverty in the country.

"It is right we are given the opportunity to debate the likely affects of this decision, the way it has been announced without consultation and the wider national implications of the severance of two centuries of links between Scotch whisky and Kilmarnock."

The Commons debate - scheduled for Wednesday - will give politicians the chance to unite in support of the workers facing redundancy, according to Mr Browne.

News of the parliamentary debate comes the day after Commons leader Harriet Harman said Diageo's plan, if implemented, will be a "body blow" to the Ayrshire town.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

08 July

Diageo jobs axe threat 'could kill Scotch industry'

SCOTLAND'S whisky industry could die if Diageo go ahead with their plan to axe 900 Scots jobs, an MP claimed yesterday.

Des Browne, the MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun, said: "If the industry is allowed to break the link between Johnnie Walker and its roots in Kilmarnock, I confidently predict that we will see within my lifetime the breaking of the link between Scotch whisky and Scotland itself.

"That would be unthinkable for any other nationally iconic product."

Senior politicians from the four main parties joined forces to step up the fight against the drinks giant's plans.

And they warned that other firms could follow suit by moving their business out of Scotland if Diageo get their way.

Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael said the plans could be the "thin end of the wedge".

He said: "What is being proposed here could do to Scotch whisky what happened to our steel and coal industries. We have to come together to say this is unacceptable."

Diageo want to shut their Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock with the loss of 700 jobs. That would cut all links with the town where the whisky was first made in 1820. They also want to close the historic Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow.

Article Courtesy of Daily Record

Daily Record

07 July

Whisky sour

Johnnie Walker workers and union officials have suspected since last week that an odious whiff has surrounded the company's unexpected closure announcement.

Now concrete evidence is beginning to emerge which gives some credence to their scepticism.

For the firm have drawn up secret plans to convert part of the historic plant into luxury flats.

Diageo say the flats plan is not related to the closure announcement.

And the local council insist the closure plan has been like a bolt from the blue.

But try telling that to workers at the Kilmarnock plant, where Johnnie Walker has been bottled continually since its inception almost 200 years ago.

They believe the local authority should have smelled a rat when the planning papers were lodged with them.

However, there's no point in playing the blame game.

Rival factions from Holyrood and Westminster tried that last week while losing focus on the crucial point.

And that is to come up with a properly based alternative which will give Diageo reason to overturn their present proposals and give the plant a stay of execution and hope for the long-term future.

The company have agreed to consider any alternative.

No more time should be lost by infighting. The real fight lies elsewhere.

Article Courtesy of Daily Record

Daily Record

06 July

Scotch hits some political rocks

Diageo's dilemma: to tell its workforce first that they're getting sacked, or to let politicians in on the news beforehand?

The global drinks giant opted to give its employees priority, if only to tell them that they are being treated as dispensible.

So Diageo is paying the price of leaving Scotland's politicians to find out last week from the BBC.

Ministers, MPs and MSPs don't like it at all, as it leaves them scurrying around trying to look busy and in charge of events - when it's clear that they're not.

That's how you get to a political campaign to save the Johnnie Walker bottling and packaging plant in Kilmarnock, in which Diageo is cast as the villain.

But let's not pretend this is all about bad news presentation.

What lies behind politicians' and unions' irritation is a key challenge about jobs, about what government can do to save jobs, and the future of the whisky industry.

Depressed demand

The decision has a bit to do with the recession, in that whisky demand is depressed.

But this is much more about restructuring for the long-term - which, of course, is more easily achieved during a recession, when workers are under pressure and less able to kick back.

Recession allows managers, across all sectors, to drive change they might have had in mind for years.

It's also worth bearing in mind that whisky, more than any other industry, has to plan on production and then maturation, leading to sales so far off that these bottles might well be for sale during our next recession.

The closure at Kilmarnock (700 jobs to go) and Port Dundas distillery and cooperage in Glasgow (140 more redundancies) is part of a package that includes substantial investment in Fife and Clackmannanshire (400 jobs being created).

The idea seems to be that the company will develop more efficient production lines, while cutting transport costs between the distilled product, the bottling plant and the departure point for exports.

And not far behind this is a threat to move more bottling overseas.

Cheaper locations

Already, between 10% and 20% of output - at the cheaper end of the blends market and, for tax reasons, to Australia - leaves Scotland in bulk rather than bottles. Diageo sends less than half that proportion.

A rule is being introduced by law that would require single malts to be bottled in Scotland, when none are bottled elsewhere at the moment.

But for the dominant blended market, the cost advantages of overseas bottling, close to market and in cheaper locations, may prove much more damaging than the Kilmarnock news for the quarter of whisky jobs on those production lines in Scotland.

What has become a political battle to save jobs, mainly focused on Kilmarnock, raises lots of questions. Here are three...

What can any government do in the face of a large powerful global company that wants to restructure and shed jobs?

The main lever over which the Scottish Government has control is that of financial incentives to stay.

That is limited by European competition and state aid rules, and by a lack of government cash.

It's also debatable that taxpayer money should be poured into retaining a facility that doesn't have its owner's confidence.

Shed jobs

Second, is government well prepared for this challenge?

It used to be for Scottish Enterprise to know such a closure was on the cards, then to prepare and deliver the response.

That's not its role any more. The lead economic development agency is focused on the 2,000 or so companies with the best growth potential, rather than those most likely to shed jobs.

There were contacts with Diageo ahead of the announcement, but it clearly wasn't the kind of close, trusting relationship where plans were shared.

The local enterprise network is now disbanded.

East Ayrshire Council has responsibility for local economic development, and being one of the smallest local authorities in Scotland, it's poorly resourced for this kind of challenge.

Success story

Third, does it make any difference in this case that Scotch whisky has to be distilled and matured in Scotland?

This is not a widget that can be produced anywhere else in the world, where cost factors are cheaper.

Diageo has around 40% of the market, and benefits hugely from the extraordinarily successful branding of Scotch as a premium product.

Of course, Johnnie Walker and Diageo's own marketing have contributed to that success story.

But it is more vulnerable to bad publicity if this political campaign gathers momentum.

On Monday a small-scale Highland distiller suggested a boycott of Diageo products, which may smack of self-interest.

Broken promise

But it's a company which has been here before.

When Guinness bought out The Distillers Company Limited in 1986, the next year creating United Distillers from its merger with Bells, a broken promise that the new company's headquarters would be in Scotland led to a boycott by Scottish customers.

That would later become Diageo, and clearly, that boycott hasn't hurt its growth as a global drinks company.

But this protest is a reminder for the London headquarters that, even if you have offices in 80 countries and sell into 180 markets, having custody of such a large share of the Scotch whisky industry carries responsibilities beyond shareholder value.

Article Courtesy of BBCi


06 July

Whisky cookbook wins world award

Two restaurant owners from Grantown on Spey have won an international award for a book - on cooking with whisky.

Sheila McConachie and Graham Harvey run the Craggan Mill restaurant. The Whisky Kitchen - 100 ways with whisky and food, is their first book.

It was judged best book on cooking with beer, wine or spirits at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris.

Ms McConachie said different whiskies could be used for cooking fish and meat.

She said: "The main thing is whisky isn't just whisky because they have different tastes.

"They vary tremendously from the peaty, smoky ones from the islands through to the sweeter ones on Speyside."

The restaurateur added: "You have to cook the whisky. If you just pour it on it is actually quite hideous and ruins whatever it is you are cooking."

Article Courtesy of BBCi


03 July

Battle to save whisky jobs steps up

The battle to save 700 whisky jobs is due to intensify on several fronts and across the political divide.

Finance Secretary John Swinney will visit Diageo officials and local council representatives in Kilmarnock, where the drinks giant is proposing to shed 700 jobs.

Labour MP Des Browne will visit the threatened packaging plant along with Mr Swinney.

And Kilmarnock Football Club will join forces with local SNP MSP Willie Coffey to launch a petition against Diageo's plan.

Club chairman Michael Johnston said: "Diageo's decision to close the Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock must be reversed. Kilmarnock Football Club will support the employees whose jobs are under threat and our local politicians in their campaign to keep Johnnie Walker in Kilmarnock where it was founded in 1820."

Mr Coffey, MSP for Kilmarnock, said: "In the face of such a potential hammer blow to the local economy, it is vital that we all band together to force Diageo to reverse their decision.

"Johnnie Walker and Kilmarnock FC are both vital to the life of this town."

First Minister Alex Salmond has urged drinks giant Diageo to reconsider its plans, which would mean the loss of 900 jobs through the Johnnie Walker closure and the closure of the Port Dundas grain distillery in Glasgow.

The job losses would, however, be partly offset by the creation of 400 jobs at a packaging plant in Fife.

After a meeting in Edinburgh with Diageo managing director Brian Donaghey, Mr Salmond said the company had agreed to hand over the figures behind its proposals for the Government and unions to study.

Article Courtesy of Carrick Gazette

Carrick Gazette

02 July

Diageo job cuts shock Scottish whisky trade

Unions and politicians in scramble to protect workers

Scotland's whisky industry has suffered a devastating blow, with one of its leading players announcing plans to axe up to 900 jobs.

Diageo - the world's largest spirits firm and the name behind iconic whisky brand Johnnie Walker - said yesterday it was closing its Kilmarnock packaging plant, with around 700 posts going between now and the end of 2011. The group is consolidating packaging operations at sites in Glasgow and Fife.

It is also closing its Port Dundas grain whisky distillery in Glasgow, with the loss of up to 140 jobs.

Changes to working practices at Diageo's packaging plant at Shieldhall, in Glasgow, are expected to see a further 30 positions going, while around 200 Scottish workers are being re-deployed as the firm looks to cut costs in the recession.

The firm said there would be no compulsory redundancies at impacted sites for 12 months.

Diageo Scotland managing director Bryan Donaghey said the restructuring would help secure the sustainability of business in Scotland.

He added: "85% of our output from Scotland is exported to over 180 markets worldwide. We need to be competitive in a global context and the restructuring announced is a key part of this. We will do everything we can to support our employees through this difficult time."

Unions and politicians voiced shock at the job cuts, which will be partially offset by the creation of 400 posts at the packaging plant in Fife.

Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish TUC, said the announcement had come as a total shock to the workforce, adding: "The impact on the Kilmarnock area is potentially devastating."

The Scottish Government described the move as "extremely disappointing" and said First Minister Alex Salmond would meet senior bosses at Diageo today.

Finance Secretary John Swinney added: "The government is asking the company to reconsider this course of action and to look at alternatives which protect employment."

Kilmarnock's plant is in the constituency of former defence and Scottish secretary Des Browne, who said he was devastated that the town's historic link with Johnnie Walker was ending.

Port Dundas falls within the Glasgow North East constituency, where a by-election is looming after the recent resignation of Commons speaker Michael Martin.

Diageo's whiskies also include Benmore, Haig, Spey Royal, Vat 69 and White Horse plus a host of single and classic malt brands.

Other drinks in the group's portfolio include Baileys liqueur, Captain Morgan rum, Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka.

Scotland is one of Diageo's largest spirit supply centres, employing around 4,500 people and producing nearly 50million cases of Scotch whisky and white spirits.

The firm hopes to save an extra £40million a year from the changes in Scotland.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

02 July

Rum deal helps whisky group to strong sales and profit growth

Edrington sees premium spirit markets holding up despite effects of global downturn

Whisky distiller Edrington Group has reported strong growth in sales and profits for the year to March 31, with its acquisition of a 61% stake in Dominican rum producer Brugal accounting for a substantial part of the growth.

Chief executive Ian Curle said yesterday the growth was despite a softening of demand in some of Edrington's main markets because of the global economic slowdown.

He said: "While this will affect our growth ambitions in the short to medium term, we remain confident about our long-term prospects."

Mr Curle said the trading environment changed significantly over the second six months of the year as the effects of the downturn affected both consumers and trade in many key markets.

He added: "During this period we have experienced trade destocking in a number of markets as wholesalers and retailers seek to reduce their working capital and debtor exposure.

"Consumers are also changing consumption patterns with a clear shift to the off-premise as they become more value conscious. While this makes for a tough trading environment, we remain confident about the prospects for premium spirit brands, and in particular our portfolio of premium Scotch whiskies and rum."

The privately owned group noted a strong performance from its core whisky brands, which include The Macallan and Highland Park single malts and The Famous Grouse blend - now the number one blend in the UK after having been the top choice in Scotland for 29 years.

Edrington said Brugal golden rum had added a new and exciting dimension to its portfolio as the leading spirit brand in the Dominican Republic with a market share of more than 80%, and showing good growth in Spain despite a significant slowdown in the Spanish economy.

Glasgow-based Edrington has reported group turnover up 44% on the year before at £419.9million and pre-tax profits excluding exceptional items up 30.5% to £94.8million. The figures include Brugal's trading results for the first time.

Edrington's annual accounts for the year show that its unnamed highest-paid director, thought to be Mr Curle, received emoluments, benefits and performance-related payments amounting to £677,000, compared with £839,000 the year before, when his performance-related payments were almost £300,000 higher.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

01 July

Forsyths reckons previous year will be hard to beat

Rothes firm's bosses predict a more modest performance

Rothes-based Forsyths has entered its latest trading year with lower expectations after an "excellent" 2007-08, accounts from the engineering firm show.

Forsyths, a coppersmithing and steel-fabrication business serving the distilling and oil industries, saw pre-tax profits soar nearly 70% to £3.98million in the 12 months to October 31.

Gross profits jumped to £6.44million in the latest period, compared with £4.94million in 2006-07.

In a report with the accounts, released by Companies House, yesterday the directors said: "The performance for the year has been excellent."

The firm said 2008-09 growth was likely to be more modest, adding: "The current economic climate has inevitably introduced an element of uncertainty to the forecasting of future trading prospects.

"The directors do not anticipate that the increases in profitability seen in recent years will continue until there is a reversal in the current world economic cycle."

Forsyths' two main markets - whisky and energy - had already peaked after several buoyant years, chairman and managing director Richard Forsyth said yesterday. He added: "It will be a surprise if we can match last year's performance. The whisky market is still relatively buoyant but oil and gas business has leveled off."

Forsyths' accounts also reveal a large payout for a director who retired last July.

The MD's elder brother, William Forsyth, earned £2.15million from the sale to the firm of 88,481 shares: nearly half of the company.

The firm - part of Forsyths Group - gave its top earning director a salary and pension package worth £374,887 last year, against £223,194 for the best-paid boss in 2006-07.

The subsidiary employed 153 people, on average, during the latest period, up from 134 the previous year.

Forsyths Group, which also includes Forblast, Grants (Dufftown), G and A Construction and McCormacks, has shed about 5% of jobs from a total workforce of nearly 300 in recent months in response to the anticipated slowdown.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal

Press & Journal

01 July

Diageo to cut 900 Scottish jobs

Drinks giant Diageo has announced it is to cut up to 900 jobs in Scotland.

The posts will go under a restructuring that will see the closure of its Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow and a packaging plant in Kilmarnock.

The company, which has its headquarters in Edinburgh, said the closures would take place over the next two years.

Diageo said the job losses would be offset by the creation of about 400 new jobs through the expansion of a packaging plant at Leven in Fife.

The firm said about 700 jobs would go over the next two years with the closure of the Kilmarnock packaging plant in East Ayrshire.

Diageo said the plant faced "infrastructure limitations" which were not issues at its other packaging plants at Shieldhall in Glasgow and Leven in Fife.

# 700 lost at Kilmarnock packaging plant
# 140 lost at Port Dundas Distillery and Dundashill cooperage
# 30 lost at Shieldhall packaging plant
# 400 jobs created at Leven packaging plant
# 80 office jobs at Dundas House transferred
# 40 staff transferred from Carsebridge to Cambus sites
# 64 warehouse jobs at Hurlford transferred out
# 36 remaining Hurlford jobs relocated
# 16 jobs in Speyside transferred out

The closure of Port Dundas Distillery in Glasgow and the neighboring Dundashill cooperage will result in the loss of up to 140 jobs.

Diageo said work from Port Dundas could be met through the continued expansion of the Cameronbridge Distillery in Fife.

A further 30 jobs will also be cut at the Shieldhall packaging plant in Glasgow.

Although it is taking on work from the closure-threatened Kilmarnock packaging plant, Diageo said a £3m investment in the site and changes in working practices would allow for a reduced workforce.

The firm stressed that the net job losses would be about 500 posts in Scotland as the headline figure would be offset by jobs created elsewhere.

It aims to create up to 400 new jobs at the Leven packaging plant in Fife.

An £86m investment will see the construction of a new packaging hall to open in mid-2011.

Diageo said it hoped some of these jobs would be taken by employees transferring from Kilmarnock.

The restructuring plans will see about 80 office-based staff at Dundas House in Glasgow transfer to another location in central Scotland over the next two years.

" I am sorry for the impact this announcement will have on our employees and their families in Kilmarnock and Glasgow and the difficulty this will cause in Kilmarnock, where we are a major employer " Bryan Donaghey Diageo Scotland managing director.

Elsewhere, the company is planning a new £9m cooperage to be built at its existing Cambus site near Alloa by summer 2011.

This will result in the closure of Diageo's nearby Carsebridge cooperage.

The company envisages relocating 40 staff from Carsebridge to Cambus, together with some roles relocating from Dundashill Cooperage.

Diageo also plans to contract out operations currently undertaken at the Hurlford consolidation warehouse in Ayrshire and exit the site next year.

About 64 despatch warehouse jobs at Hurlford will be transferred under TUPE regulations to third party logistics company, Malcolm Group.

The 36 remaining Diageo jobs at Hurlford would be relocated to other sites.

The firm also said haulage of distillery "co-products" would be contracted out to a third party transport company, McPherson Ltd.

The 16 associated jobs in Speyside will be transferred under TUPE regulations.

Bryan Donaghey, managing director of Diageo Scotland, said: "These decisions have been extremely difficult to take. We have only reached them after an exhaustive review of all the possible alternatives.

"I am sorry for the impact this announcement will have on our employees and their families in Kilmarnock and Glasgow and the difficulty this will cause in Kilmarnock, where we are a major employer.

"We believe the plans announced today will help secure the sustainability of our business in Scotland.

"We will do everything we can to support our employees through this difficult time.

"We will also work closely with local political and community leaders in Kilmarnock so that together we can seek to address the impact this announcement will have on the town."

Labeling tradition

Kilmarnock and Loudoun Labour MP Des Browne said the closure of the packaging plant would have a "devastating" impact on the local economy.

"Every bottle of Johnnie Walker has a label which says that this whisky has been bottled in Kilmarnock since 1820," he said.

"The town of Kilmarnock and the people of Ayrshire have contributed to this business's profits for nearly two centuries.

"The company now needs to work with their staff in Kilmarnock and revise these proposals as they did 10 years ago to maintain this presence and these jobs. That's what I'll be working for from today."

Mr Browne added that he had called for a meeting with Diageo management.

A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: "We've no doubt these will have been difficult decisions to take.

"The Scotch whisky industry is working hard to invest to secure its sustainability and competitiveness, which is so important to the Scottish economy.

"We continue to believe whisky has a strong long-term future, as shown by Diageo's own commitment to investing in new and expanded facilities in Scotland."

Last month Diageo, whose brands include Guinness, Smirnoff Vodka and Johnnie Walker whisky, said that markets around the world had weakened.

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It reported that sales were down 7% in the three months to the end of March.

Article Courtesy of BBCi

June 2009 Scotch Whisky News

30 Jun

Old Pulteney Reveals their Oldest Whisky

Old Pulteney single malt whisky has announced the launch of their oldest and most exclusive super-premium whisky. This very rare 30 year old single malt was distilled at the most northerly distillery on the UK mainland and embodies the wind-swept and rugged character of the far north.

Matured at the distillery for 30 years in American White Oak, it offers connoisseurs of fine spirits and luxury scotch whisky enthusiasts an intensely complex single malt.

Already renowned for its 12, 17 and 21 year old whiskies, Old Pulteney’s 30 year old is perfect as an after dinner dram or to celebrate a special occasion. It is presented in a lacquered walnut burr box which is lined with sailcloth, reflecting the brand’s unique maritime heritage.

Old Pulteney’s senior brand manager, Iain Baxter: “We are really excited about the launch of our oldest ever Old Pulteney. This whisky has been looked after at the distillery for 30 years and the age contributes a huge amount of complexity. It has all the hallmarks of Old Pulteney; spice and green apples, and sweet vanilla and coconut notes from the American Oak. But unusually for such an old whisky there’s a remarkable touch of tropical fruit on the nose – some people have picked up guavas and mangos! I’d say that for a malt whisky with so much age and depth, it’s still incredibly approachable.”

To tie in with the launch of the whisky, Old Pulteney is running an online competition where visitors can win a bottle of this exclusive whisky. Each month for the next six months, visitors to the Old Pulteney website can guess where they think bottles of a missing crate of the 30 year old went missing around the coast of Wick where the distillery is based. You can find the competition at (

Old Pulteney 30 year old retails at £250 in the UK, and due to limited supply it will be available from specialist stores only.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

27 Jun

Early malt signals plea rejected

Predicting cereals demand would be impossible, it is claimed

A plea for farmers to be given a better indication of forward demand for malting barley from distillers was rejected yesterday.

NFU Scotland cereals committee convener John Picken had called for more market information to be shared between distillers, their maltsters and the farmers who grow the malting barley and wheat that are key to the production of Scotch whisky.

He said this would help take some of the volatility out of the market and allow farmers to plan cropping as well as respond to the challenges of increasing production costs and dramatic swings in the costs of fuel and fertiliser.

He told a NFU Scotland whisky seminar at the show: “We need long termism back into industry. We need to know requirements for the years ahead.”

But Gavin Hewitt, of the Scotch Whisky Association, said it would be impossible for distillers to respond to Mr Picken’s challenge as it was “notoriously difficult” to predict annual cereals demand.

“We do not have a crystal ball,” he said. “I cannot give you the certainty that you desire. We have a growing dialogue between ourselves and I hope we can build on that because I want to give you the confidence that we have a future together.”

Mr Hewitt said the last year had been difficult for distillers because of the global economic downturn and the problems this had caused in some markets.

He was, however, optimistic about the long-term outlook for Scotland’s national drink, exports of which last year hit a record £3.1billion. He saw future opportunities in China and India as well as Brazil, Turkey and Vietnam.

Mr Hewitt used the seminar to renew the SWA’s longstanding plea for reductions in import tariffs, particularly in India where duties remain at around 150%.

Reducing that to zero could lead to soaring sales and catapult India to one of the top five markets for Scotch globally. The expectation was for an extra 6.5million cases of Scotch being sold, a figure that would equate to a 7% increase in production and 7% rise in cereal demand.

Mr Hewitt also expressed concerns about the Scottish Government’s proposals for minimum alcohol pricing, saying the plan needed to be urgently reviewed.

Mr Hewitt acknowledged the biggest challenge facing the whisky sector was ensuring that every part of the supply chain, including farmers, received “good value from it”.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

27 Jun

New Fife distiller turns tradition upside down ...
by going to Tasmania to recruit a whisky expert

Tasmanian brings his expertise to Kingsbarns

IT IS the equivalent of selling sand to the Saudis or ice to the Inuit: a proposed Scottish distillery has gone to the bottom of the world for advice in making whisky.

The Kingsbarns Company of Distillers, based just outside St Andrews, Fife, has enlisted Bill Lark, founder and owner of the Lark Distillery in Tasmania and known as the "Godfather of modern Australian whisky-making", to help it cash in on the booming whisky tourism industry.

The plan is to convert a semi-derelict farmstead on the Cambo Estate between St Andrews and Crail and open it as a small-batch distillery, visitor centre and restaurant. The estate has been home to the Erskine family since 1688 and adjoins Kingsbarns Golf Links - where the dream of a new distillery was forged.

A second Australian, golf course and whisky entrepreneur Greg Ramsay, 32, is also involved, along with Abertay University graduate Doug Clement, also 32, who first met Ramsay while caddying at the Kingsbarns course.

The distillery project, which will cost between £1 million and £1.5m, will be launched tomorrow in the hope that funding will come from investors keen to get involved at groundfloor level with a new distillery where the rewards can be great. More than one million tourists visited distilleries last year and brought in more than £25m in revenue. And the number of whisky tourists was up 12% on the previous year, despite the recession.

Wearing a Royal Stuart tartan tie and sitting in the Royal & Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews yesterday, Lark told the Sunday Herald he had been "really nervous" about the prospect of "coming here to teach Scots how to suck eggs". But Lark has an impressive pedigree. For 20 years he has been making whisky in Tasmania and this year his Cask LD 100 won the Best Other Single Malt Whisky at the 2009 World Whiskies Award, organised by Whisky Magazine. That is, the best in the world outside Scotland and Ireland.

Lark explained that he and Ramsay knew one another because of the latter's own Tasmanian business interests, including setting up the Nant distillery and building a golf course.

He said: "The Scotch industry tends to think it is a big business and that distilleries have to be big. We think small can be better and can really involve people who are excited about hand-crafted whisky.

"Doug and Greg believe the Kingdom of Fife is sadly lacking distilleries. While they were caddying here they knew people came to Kingsbarns or St Andrews for golf, but there was nothing very much else for them if they were also interested in whisky.

"I had tremendous support from the Scotch whisky industry when I was setting up the Lark Distillery and they have been very excited about us coming here to help with this distillery, so that made it easy for me to come across."

In another coals-to-Newcastle moment, the stills will be made in Tasmania by a boilermaker who has previously worked with Lark and has constructed 14 stills for the Australian whisky industry.

Kingsbarns will have a pair of stills: an 1800-litre wash still and a 600-litre spirit still. Barley will be grown in Fife and hand-turned in the distillery's own floor malting.

Lark added: "The distillery will be tourism-driven, of that there's no doubt, but it is vitally important that we are making top quality whisky. We want to get people involved in every aspect of whisky making and play a role in producing whisky."

Preliminary plans are with the council and the company is looking at beginning to produce spirit by early 2011. Lark said: "We will be looking at small cask ageing with quarter casks holding 1000 litres, which means the whiskies will mature more quickly - within five to six years."

To ensure a cashflow before the spirit can be sold as whisky - three years is the minimum - the distillery will also be making gin, a botanicals-based liqueur, and speciality spirits that don't need such a long maturation period.

The head of the Cambo Estate, Sir Peter Erskine, said: "It will be a fun and glorious adventure and will bring jobs to Scots people."

Article Courtesy of Sunday Herald


Sunday Herald

26 Jun


A Swede has the biggest collection of BenRiach malt whisky in the world. Magnus Fagerstrom (44) from Helsingborg in the south of the country started collecting BenRiach two years ago and now has 201 different bottles plus miniatures and toy trucks with the BenRiach logo on the side! Here, Magnus explains how his interest in BenRiach has grown over the years, how he has painstakingly put his collection together, the generosity of other fans, the detective work required to make the collection complete and, in Magnus’s opinion, the best BenRiach ever.

“Back in May 2004, I started to keep a record of which whiskies I tasted and over the next five years I evaluated almost 2800 different types. I then started to think about collecting full bottles but first I had to establish three important criteria.

“Number one is, of course, that it has to be a very good whisky. A friend of mine, Anders Melin, had given me some BenRiach, so that was the first criterion met. BenRiach it would be!

“Secondly, it had to be possible to get a complete collection. Before Billy Walker and his colleagues took over BenRiach, there was only one distillery bottling made, so that criterion was also met.

“In addition, I had to track down all the expressions and as I started collecting three years after the first new releases came, I had to investigate which ones had been issued and how to get hold of them. Two people gave me excellent help - Belgian collector Bert Bruyneel and Alistair Walker at BenRiach. The two most important criteria were therefore met.

“Thirdly, it had to be affordable and I thought it was.

“The final thing that convinced me I should collect BenRiach is that it was re-started in 1965 after 65 years of silence. I was born in 1965 so I thought that coincidence was an extra fun thing! Unfortunately, there were no casks from 1965 still in stock when Billy took over and I doubt whether there ever were any 1965 bottled as I haven’t heard of any.

“In collecting BenRiach, I’ve had excellent help from many friends around the world. I’ve been in contact with wonderful people in Taiwan, Japan, South Africa and all over Europe to get hold of different bottles for my collection. After a lot of research, there were just four bottles missing from the collection.

“I tried to buy them from Bert but initially he declined my offer. But then all of a sudden he said I could buy his whole collection of 80 bottles. His price was reasonable so I got a loan from my bank to fund the purchase. So now I have all the official bottlings ever made in my far as I know anyway!

“You might ask: why does a Swede get so excited about BenRiach? The answer is I like the fact that BenRiach has both peated and unpeated whisky. I also like the packaging and all the stuff that BenRiach does. And after I visited the distillery a few weeks ago I am even more excited. I had a great time with Stewart Buchanan that day.

“I’m often asked what is the oldest BenRiach I have. Age-wise, the oldest one is the BenRiach 40 year old but if we are talking about when it was bottled I have a BenRiach 1969 that was bottled in 1981.

“And the most I have ever paid for a bottle of BenRiach is £740 which I paid for the 40-year-old.

“Taste-wise, my favourite BenRiach bottling is the 1976, cask 3557, bottled for La Maison du Whisky in France. It is a fantastic dram. Very close behind is the 1976, cask 8079, bottled exclusively for the famous Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside. 1968 and 1976 seem to have been fantastic years for BenRiach.

“Another favourite is the 1980, cask 2535, Virgin Oak at 55%. It’s a very special whisky that has spent 26 years in a virgin cask. Actually, that is something that shouldn’t work but with BenRiach these virgin casks are excellent. There are some 1994 virgin casks released that are very good too.

“Collection-wise, my favourite bottlings are some of the special ones, like the “Cape Of Storms” bottles bottled for South Africa. A very special bottle is the 1994, cask 3244. It was bottled for Whisk-e in Japan and I have two different ones. One is made for Isetan (168 bottles) with the text “Exclusively for Isetan” on the label and the other doesn’t have that wording. Bottling dates are one month apart and there are only 60 bottles made without the Isetan text on the label.

“The fact is I have not tasted all of the BenRiachs in my collection, as some are just too valuable to open. I have not been able to afford to buy doubles of all of them, but I try to buy an extra bottle so I can taste them. I still have quite a few doubles that I haven’t opened yet, but there are a few bottles for which I don’t have doubles. I hope the distillery will provide me with samples of new bottlings so I can try them without having to buy double bottles. For independent bottlings, I only buy one of each as it is the distillery bottlings that are number one in my collection.

“I currently have 201different bottles of BenRiach: 45 are non-vintage distillery bottlings, 84 are single cask distillery bottlings and 72 are independent bottlings. I have ordered another 1 distillery bottling and 1 independent bottle but they haven’t arrived yet. I also have 9 miniatures and 12 toy trucks with BenRiach advertisements on the sides!

“I have some great stories about my collection. For example, I knew there was a 12-year-old called “Cape of Storms” exclusively bottled for South Africa. I had no idea how to get hold of one but a friend put me in touch with someone who had one. Unfortunately, after a lot of negotiations the guy backed out. I started to search the Internet and found a 16-year-old on WhiskyLive’s website in Cape Town. They forwarded my email to the importer in South Africa and he wrote back to say he had a special gift pack with both the 12 and 16-year-old! I emailed back, sent him a link to my webpage with my BenRiach collection, and the next day I got a very nice email. He had shown my collection to the two South African partners in BenRiach, Geoff Bell and Wayne Keiswetter, and they also liked what they saw. As it was close to my birthday, they sent me the two bottles as a gift! When the bottles arrived I had to pay Swedish tax, but I did that happily. And when I opened the box, inside was a “Happy Birthday” card signed by both Wayne and Geoff! I treasure that card almost as much as the “Cape of Storms” bottles!

“Another wonderful story relates to the time I picked up the bottles I bought from Bert Bruyneel. He kindly arranged a tasting which we finished with a 1976 bottled for the Craigellachie Hotel and then another 1976 for La Maison du Whisky. He told me to buy as many 1976 LMdWs as possible but at 195 euros I had only bought one; after tasting it I cursed myself for not having bought more. There was of course one in the collection I bought so I do have one extra for drinking. I tried to convince Bert to sell me another one as he had some unopened, but he refused. He said I was more than welcome to come and visit him and help him drink it but, as he put it: “This is the best BenRiach ever and I want it to last for the rest of my life”, so I totally understand that he holds on tightly to the ones he has!

“Everyone is different when it comes to how they drink BenRiach but personally I first taste everything neat. When evaluating, I always add a few drops of water to see what it does for the whisky. When I drink for pure pleasure I prefer it neat or sometimes with some water. Some whiskies are best neat even when they are very high in alcohol and others need some water to open them up a bit. But ice is an absolute no-no when it comes to my BenRiach!

“I’m often asked to sum up the unique appeal of BenRiach. I would say: “classic fruity Speyside with a peaty twist.

“I’m not a great fan of food with whisky as I prefer to have my whisky by itself. At tastings I use dark chocolate and crackers to cleanse the palate and sometimes coffee when it’s a big tasting, but I haven’t yet found any food with which I would like to drink whisky. A cigar once in a while with a nice whisky is good too.

“I have tasted BenRiach in many places but the best place was in Warehouse 13 at the distillery in the splendid company of BenRiach’s Distillery Manager Stewart Buchanan. Tasting BenRiach directly from the cask is unbeatable and I can’t wait for that 1970 sherry cask to be bottled!

“Probably the most memorable place I’ve tasted it was when I held my big BenRiach tasting with 32 guests, including Alan McConnochie from BenRiach / GlenDronach, and 21 different BenRiach single casks here in Helsingborg. Along one of the walls we set up shelves and on them was my whole BenRiach collection plus miniatures and toy trucks with the BenRiach logos. No-one else can set up a surrounding like that!

Here’s a full list of all the whiskies we tasted and the tasting order.


Cask 4043, hogshead, 261 btls







Cask 4005, hogshead, 254 btls







Cask 2382, hogshead, 158 btls







Cask 1589, hogshead, 209 btls







Cask 7007, Gomez Sherry Butt, 542 btls







Cask 10985, hogshead, 228 btls







Cask 4469, Peated, Port Pipe, 649 bts







Cask 316, Barrel, 240 btls





OB for Van Wees, Netherlands


Cask 627, hogshead, 253 btls







Cask 2535, new wood, 238 btls







Cask 594, hogshead, 240 btls





OB for Potstill, Austria


Cask 9632, Peated, butt, 663 btls







Cask 285, Peated, barrel, 201 bottles







Cask 4049, Peated, Port hhd, 294 btls







Cask 76257, bourbon barrel, 251 btls





OB for Potstill, Austria


Cask 6888, Dark Rum barrel, 268 btls





OB for Sun Favourite, Taiwan


Cask 4023, virgin oak, 311 btls





OB for Germany


Cask 828, hogshead, 357 btls





OB for Van Wees, Netherlands


Cask 303, heavily peated





OB for Whisk-e, Japan


Cask 807, oloroso sherry butt, 700 btls





OB for MacY, Denmark


Cask 4017, Peated, Port hhd, 240 btls





OB for ALKO, Finland

We started with the oldest ones when our palates were still fresh. We had 6 from the 70s and 1 from the 60s. I chose to have the only 1966 released as it is the oldest vintage available. The tasting was divided into sections of 2 hours tasting, 1 hour food break, 2 hour tasting, 1 hour food break and another 2 hour tasting. After the first food break we had the 1980s and we finished the day off with the 1990s.

My personal favourites at the tasting were the 1970, cask 4005; the 1978, cask 1589; the 1975, cask 7007 and the 1980, cask 2535. We didn’t vote for the best one of the evening but they were all excellent.

If you’d like to know more about my love of BenRiach, go to

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

25 Jun

Moray tourism group awarded £120,000

Area to become home of malt whisky

A TOURISM group in Moray has been awarded £120,000 to help promote the area as the home of malt whisky.

Moray Tourism Development Group will get the money from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Moray Council over two years.

Interim chairman Jim Royan said it would allow the organisation to make its vision a reality.

The group is a collaboration involving HIE, the council, Visit Scotland, Historic Scotland and the private sector.

Its aims include making Moray internationally renowned as the home of malt whisky and showing the area combines a rich heritage with innovation.

Steven Hutcheon, senior development manager with HIE, outlined the benefits the funding could bring.

He said: “It is a vital next step in creating what we hope will be a sustainable force which will benefit the tourism sector in Moray.”

He described the group as a “tourism ambassador” and said it would help put Moray firmly on the tourism map.

Mr Royan said the group felt “very lucky” to have financial support from the public sector, as well as being able to draw on their combined experience.

He said the group would be working with Elgin-based firm Marion Walker Marketing to develop a business model.

The company’s founder, Marion Walker, said it was looking forward to the opportunity.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

24 Jun

Malt whisky 'taste quest' begins

Scientists in Glasgow are aiming to discover what gives malt whiskies their distinctive flavour.

Researchers at Strathclyde University will focus on the role which oak casks play in determining the flavour.

They will examine the effect of different types of cask by comparing untreated oak to wood which has been heat treated.

The team hopes its findings will allow distillers to more easily control and maintain product quality.

The team, from the university's department of pure and applied chemistry, is conducting the research with the drinks firm Diageo.

'Sustaining quality'

Dr Jim Lewicki, who is leading the research, said: "A lot of the taste from whisky comes from the oak barrels themselves - very little of the taste comes from the distillation of spirit.

"Newly distilled whisky is essentially colourless when it goes into the cask, but when it comes out after several years, it has become golden brown and has collected a number of different flavours.

"We're looking to characterise and replicate, under controlled conditions, aspects of the cask flavouring processes that go on in traditional manufacture of casks and so develop further our knowledge about them.

"This is about sustaining good quality and making it better. If you have a famous brand, connoisseurs expect this."

Article Courtesy of BBCi



23 Jun

Whisky brand picks De-construct for digital push

Digital marketing and communications agency de-construct has launched the first phase of a major overhaul of Chivas Regal’s global digital presence.

The first phase of the new campaign, which comprises a website and supporting online marketing activity, has been launched to support the premium whisky brand's new advertising platform 'Live With Chivalry’ and will use digital to bring the proposition to life and enrol brand advocates into the campaign.

The launch is the culmination of a year's work to develop new online brand guidelines and a new global site in collaboration with Chivas Regal’s local markets and distributors.

de-construct won the retained contract with Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky and premium gin business of Pernod Ricard, in a competitive pitch.

The agency, part of the Isobar network, has developed a long-term global strategy across all digital channels to deliver a digital presence for the brand.

To achieve this, de-construct has developed a modular system that ensures each market can customise their version of the site to match local content and marketing requirements.

The agency is working with the global and local teams in the development of these new cross-platform modules, which will focus on driving traffic and taking the brand experience out to consumers in social spaces and mobile channels.

Dan Douglas, MD of de-construct said: "Creating usable brand guidelines for multiple markets is always a challenge. We've developed a powerful set of tools to maximise Chivas's digital presence globally and locally"

Simon Burley, International Marketing Manager for Chivas Regal said: "The launch is a great first phase of our overall digital strategy. We now have a consistent global online presence and the platform to launch our chivalry campaign across all digital channels".

Article Courtesy of Netimperative


Net imperative

22 Jun

Dewar's Goes Golfing with Callaway for Charity

Dewar's 18Dewar's Blended Scotch Whisky and Callaway Golf Company have teamed up to launch a nationwide sweepstakes and longest drive charity competition across the U.S. where each winner will win a $5,000 prize for the charity of their choice. The partnership coincides with the introduction of Callaway's Big Bertha Diablo Driver and Dewar's 18 Founder's Reserve Scotch (right).

There are three Sweepstakes Grand Prizes of a VIP Golf Experience, which include roundtrip travel for the winner and one guest to the Callaway facility in Carlsbad, California, hotel accommodations, meals, custom Callaway golf clubs professionally fitted by Callaway's experts, a Callaway golf bag and a round of golf with a Callaway-certified instructor. 10 Second Prizes of Callaway's new Big Bertha Diablo driver will also be given away.

The Dewar's and Callaway Golf Longest Drive Charity Competition event will take place in New York on June 24 as well as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and Miami. Each event will also include a special Dewar's sampling to celebrate the partnership with specially-created golf-themed cocktails. More info. and entries can be found anywhere Dewar's is sold as well as online at

Rare whiskies from the different regions of Scotland were carefully selected by the brand's Master Blender for Dewar's 18 Founder's Reserve. The color is a warm, golden amber; vanilla and toffee notes dominate the palette with a mellow, soft sweetness, lingering creaminess and a full bodied oakiness, followed by a long, soft and warming finish with a slight dryness.

Article Courtesy of Luxist



20 Jun

Stella takes top job at whisky firm

Wm Grant looking to benefit from former Bacardi boss’s marketing experience

Whisky distiller William Grant and Sons announced a change at the top yesterday, with chief executive Roland van Bommel stepping down after five years in the post.

Grant, based at Dufftown, said Bacardi marketing officer Stella David, 47, was taking over in a move which marks another large stride for equality in UK boardrooms. She is believed to be the first woman to head up a whisky firm.

The company said Mr van Bommel, who decided to go late last year, was leaving to pursue other interests but he would stay on for a spell to help make the transition smoother.

Chairman Peter Gordon: “While it is with regret that we see the departure of Roland, we would like to recognise his significant contribution in taking the company to a new level.

“We are very pleased to welcome Stella to join the board as our new chief executive as we continue our journey to grow the company and become a brand-led business, with offerings that are the envy of the industry.”

Grant said Mr van Bommel, 58, had built a stronger and broader executive team, and implemented significant improvements across the business.

Ms David, who hails from Yorkshire, starts her new job on August 10 and will be based at the group’s main marketing office at Richmond, in London.

She has had several senior roles at Bacardi, including vice-president of global operations, managing director for the Asia-Pacific region and chief executive of the drink group’s British and Dutch businesses.

For the past four years, she has been responsible for marketing Bacardi, which owns Perthshire-based Dewar’s plus distilleries in the north and north-east.

She is also a non-executive director of the Nationwide Building Society and chairwoman of its remuneration committee.

Family-run Grant, established in 1887, is behind whisky brands including Glenfiddich and The Balvenie.

Its portfolio also includes Hendrick’s gin, Sailor Jerry spiced rum, Monkey Shoulder triple malt whisky, Tequila Milagro and Reyka vodka.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

19 Jun

Oasis star Liam Gallagher spent day drinking in Edinburgh whisky bar before Murrayfield gig

BRIT-POP rockers Oasis spent the day before their sell-out Edinburgh gig finding out how to cook a haggis.

Members of the world-famous band were spotted drinking in an exclusive capital bar for around seven hours on Tuesday before heading into the kitchens to see the Scottish culinary delicacy being served up.

And frontman Liam Gallagher was so impressed with the service that he left the staff a fantastic tip - four VIP tickets for the Murrayfield concert.

The band had sat drinking in Royal Mile pub Whiski for two hours before being recognised, but the bar's owner says the group behaved impeccably.

The Oasis entourage persuaded the bar's management to let them into the kitchens to watch the chefs prepare Scotland's national dish.

Owner Gary Still said: "They came in at about three o'clock but we didn't even realise it was them until about five, when one of the workers recognised them. They just seemed like ordinary guys in having a few drinks.

"They were all extremely pleasant, and dealt with the autograph hunters and people wanting photos very well.

"We've had bands in before, but these guys were the most famous yet."

The 12-strong group, including Liam, guitarist Gem Archer and an array of sound engineers and an other crew, shunned the city's trendy bars to settle for the small whisky bar on the Royal Mile.

And as rumours of the band's appearance at the bar spread, more and more fans tried to cram in through the doors. Mr Still added: "They left a nice tip, although I'm not sure exactly how much, and drank mostly beer, though I'm sure they tried some of our whiskies as well.

"It's great for us that someone as popular as Oasis should stay with us in the bar. Some fans had approached asking where they would go next and they replied they'd stay in Whiski because they thought it was cool.

"They went to the kitchen as well because they'd never seen a haggis before, so we cooked one for them so they could see how it was all done.

"We did generally leave them alone, and although a lot of people came up to speak to them, they were generally left in peace."

The multi-award winning group played to a sellout crowd at Murrayfield Stadium the following evening.

Article Courtesy of Daily Record


Daily Record

17 Jun

Inver House Distillers buck economic downturn

AN AIRDRIE firm showed they had plenty of bottle by expanding their business despite the tough economic times.

Inver House Distillers recently announced another successful year of sales for their top whisky brands such as a Balblair and Old Pulteney.

Now the company has opened a new £1million bottling hall at their headquarters in Towers Road.

Ten full-time jobs were set up with a regional selective assistance grant from the Scottish Government.

The investment in the bottling hall continues parent company International Beverage’s commitment to having their Scottish base as its hub of “operating and marketing excellence”.

International Beverage which acts as the international arm of Asian firm ThaiBev, opened the bottling hall to “ensure continuity of supply, cost competitiveness and flexibility for their core brands”.

The bottling plant was opened by ThaiBev’s CEO, Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi.

He said: “I am delighted to open the new bottling plant at our Scotch whisky headquarters here in Airdrie.

“The plant ensures that we can continue to provide our customers with quality, cost competitiveness and flexibility with core brands such as Balblair, anCnoc, Old Pulteney, Speyburn and Hankey Bannister.”

Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Development International, which has worked closely with the company, said: “The opening of Inver House’s new facility in Airdrie and Thai Beverage’s confidence in Scotland is excellent news, particularly during this time of economic uncertainty.

“It is also a significant development for our growing food and drink industry, which has been identified as offering a real opportunity for Scotland’s economic growth.”

Article Courtesy of Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser


Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

17 Jun

Pernod Ricard launches Asian exclusive whisky

Ballantine’s Championship Blend will be on display at Jeju International airport until the end of April

Liquor supplier Pernod Ricard has launched an Asian exclusive variation of Ballantine’s Scotch whisky. Ballantine’s Championship Blend is a 35yo expression of the brand created by European golfer Graeme McDowell and Ballantine’s master blender Sandy Hyslop. Only 15 bottles of the whisky have been made and 12 will be available for purchase.

The launch will be supported by a series of travel-retail promotions and competitions across the region until May, spearheaded by the second Ballantine’s Championship golf tournament, which takes place in South Korea on April 23–26. The new product will be on sale at Jeju International airport until the end of April, and travellers at the airport will be encouraged to take part in a putting game to win golf-related prizes.

A gwp Ballantine’s golf bag will be offered to all travellers who buy any Ballantine’s product in Asian duty-free stores in Jeju, Seoul, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore. Customers will also be invited to enter a draw to win a golf-themed trip for two to Scotland, where they will have the opportunity to meet Hyslop at the Glenburgie Distillery in Speyside.

Pernod Ricard Asia Duty Free managing director Thibaut de Poutier said: “We feel that Jeju airport’s Championship Blend showcase will provide the ultimate shop window to reinforce the Ballantine’s premium credentials.”

Article Courtesy of Duty Free News International


Duty Free News

15 Jun

Carbon-neutral distillery plans boost

Huntly project awarded £600,000

AN ABERDEENSHIRE whisky bottler has received a large cash boost which will allow it to accelerate plans to build Scotland’s first carbon-neutral distillery.

Huntly-based Duncan Taylor and Co has been given two Scottish Government grants worth £600,000 for the multimillion-pound project, which will create 16 jobs and safeguard a further 14 in the town.

Managing director Euan Shand said the extra funds means work to build the £5million distillery could start in the next two to three months.

The distillery will be housed in a former creamery off Huntly High Street and produce its own-blend malt whisky as well as gin and vodka.

Annual production is expected to be around 220,000 gallons of alcohol a year.

Mr Shand, the son of a former manager of Glendronach Distillery at nearby Forgue, said: “We are very pleased to have been awarded this grant for the proposed distillery, allowing us to now accelerate our plans to start building this year.

“It’s going to be entirely green, using wood-chip fuel, which will make use of the resources in Aberdeenshire, and particularly the Huntly area.”

The distillery, which will have a turf roof, will also house offices, a warehouse, bottling plant and visitor centre.

The company began bottling operations in 2003 and now sells malt and blended brands to more than 30 countries, taking advantage of growing global demand for Scotland’s national drink.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

12 Jun

SWA refused appeal in Canadian whisky row

The Scotch Whisky Association has lost a long-running court battle to prevent a Canadian distiller using the word "Glen" in the name of one if its brands.

In a case that had run for nine years, the SWA had argued that Glenora Distilleries' Glen Breton whisky brand could lead consumers to believe it was made and bottled in Scotland.

Having lost the case earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Canada has refused to grant the SWA leave of appeal, leaving Glenora free to register the name under the Canadian Trade Marks Act.

In a statement the SWA said it was disappointed with the judgment.

It added: "The Court of Appeal's findings that the mark has caused confusion because of its Glen prefix, and that Glenora had marketed its product as Scotch in all but name, have not been reversed.

"We will continue to monitor the marketing of this product to ensure that it does not cause continued confusion and will oppose applications to register the mark in any country where such confusion is likely."

Article Courtesy of Harpers



11 Jun

Protection boost for brand in China

Whisky-maker achieves formal recognition for Chivas name

WHISKY-MAKER Chivas Brothers has claimed a victory in a battle to protect the reputation of its flagship brand Chivas Regal in China.

The name Chivas and its Chinese equivalent have been recognised by the Chinese trademarks office as a well known trademark in the country. Similar protection has been granted to the Chivas Regal brand name.

Christian Porta, chief executive of Paisley-based Chivas Brothers, said: “This formal recognition of Chivas as a well known trademark will strengthen protection of the Chivas brand in China.

“It prevents third parties from taking advantage of the reputation and goodwill which has been generated by the Chivas brand.”

He said this was an important result for the company because China was the largest market for Chivas Regal whisky and a significant investment was made to promote the brand throughout China every year.

The decision means that third parties may not use or register the name Chivas, or similar words for any goods where such use may cause confusion in China.

Chivas Regal is one of 15 strategically key brands for Pernod Ricard, the French parent of Chivas Brothers.

The whisky is distributed widely around the world.

In China, where drinkers take it mixed with green tea, it is the top selling premium Scotch brand.

The Scotch Whisky Association is campaigning for the Chinese government to ensure all products labelled as being Scotch whisky actually come from Scotland.

Ironically, Chivas found itself at the centre of a dispute over the authenticity of its exports to China just over two years ago. Pernod forced an apology from a Shanghai newspaper for tarnishing the name of its 12-year-old Chivas Regal premium blend.

It was alleged Chinese imports of Chivas 12-year-old were of a younger vintage, and the ensuing row ended up in the Chinese courts.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

09 Jun

Bottling boost for Inver House Distillers

Chief executive of Thai parent hails quality of whisky firm’s core brands

INVER House Distillers (IHD) has opened its new bottling plant at its headquarters.

The Airdrie bottling hall, a £1million investment for the company, will create 10 jobs and was set up with a regional selective assistance grant from the Scottish Government.

IHD has been boosted by millions of pounds of investment by Hong Kong-based parent International Beverage Holdings (IBH), part of Thai drink giant ThaiBev.

The bottling plant was opened by ThaiBev chief executive Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, who said: “The plant ensures we can continue to provide our customers with quality, cost competitiveness and flexibility with core brands such as Balblair, anCnoc, Old Pulteney, Speyburn and Hankey Bannister.”

Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Development International, said: “The opening of Inver House’s new facility in Airdrie and ThaiBev’s confidence in Scotland is excellent news, particularly during this time of economic uncertainty.

“It is also a significant development for our growing food and drink industry, which has been identified as offering a real opportunity for Scotland’s economic growth.”

IHD owns five distilleries throughout Scotland: Pulteney, Balblair, Speyburn, Knockdhu and Balmenach.

It said last month that sales of its maritime-themed Old Pulteney single malt, produced at Wick, soared 16% by value last year after awareness of the brand was raised through an annual photography competition, sponsorship of high-profile sailing regattas in the UK and various other activities.

IHD said it was continuing to target markets in the UK, key areas of continental Europe and South Africa for sales of Old Pulteney, whose distillery was only accessible by sea when it was established in 1826.

The group’s Balblair single malt, produced at Edderton, by the Dornoch Firth, saw a 23% rise in sales in 2008. Balblair was relaunched two years ago and IHD has since ramped-up its promotion of the whisky to core markets in the UK, France and Japan.

IHD said blended malt brand Hankey Bannister – a favourite tipple of former British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill – grew sales by 20% last year, with exports reaching more than 40 countries.

In April, Hankey Bannister 40-year-old was hailed by judges in annual awards for the industry as the world’s best blended Scotch.

IHD posted pre-tax profits of £7.4million for 2008, nearly double the £3.8million recorded a year earlier. Turnover slid to £51.5million in the latest period, against £57.8million in 2007.

The company said the higher profits were the result of a favourable global market, investment in brands and the success of core operations across the whisky portfol

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

08 Jun

Why they revere Robbie Dhu at Glenfiddich

The Glenfiddich visitor centre, the first of its kind to open to the public, is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. Peter Mitchell took the opportunity to get an insight into the history of Glenfiddich and the whisky production process, and enjoy a whisky tasting or two

A CERTAIN Robbie Dhu enjoys great fame in the upper reaches of Banffshire.

No, he is not a kilted Highland warrior who spent his life repelling and felling foreigners. Robbie Dhu is the name of the spring near Dufftown whose water is the precious lifeblood of Glenfiddich malt whisky of varying ages.

World favourite is the 12-year-old, which can be found in more than 180 countries.

Having a world-beater on his hands would no doubt amaze William Grant, who founded Glenfiddich in 1886 after working for 20 years at Mortlach Distillery, also at Dufftown.

He put eight of his nine children to work, and the family link remains strong today through current chairman Peter Grant Gordon, now the fifth generation.

Another strong feature of the distillery ethos is the importance of its pioneering visitor centre, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Team leader of the guides is Pompey man Brian Robinson, who came to Scotland five years ago, and the kilted Englishman told a visiting party of writers from around the world – and even Aberdeen – how important the centre is.

“At the height of the season, we have more than 30 multilingual guides available,” he said.

“That’s because 75% of our visitors come from abroad.

“Last year, we had 65,500 through the doors, with 13,000 from Germany and more than 6,000 from France.”

At time of writing, no Mandarin speaker had been lined up for the 2009 season. However, for the benefit of one of the visiting scribes – Taiwanese business writer Blue Lan, from Taipei – Glenfiddich went to the trouble of discovering Inverness College IT and administration student Florence Wilkesson, from Dingwall, to act as her interpreter.

Tours are free, although you can pay £20 a head for the deluxe version, an extended two-and-a-half-hour excursion with four whiskies to sample at the end of it.

Another vital part of the equation in whisky-making is the wood used in the barrels, which is said to account for 60% of the final flavour.

This was emphasised at a nosing and tasting of six whiskies of different ages, up to a 30-year-old, by master blender David Stewart.

An Ayr man who started learning his trade in 1962, he said Glenfiddich buys thousands of American bourbon casks and some Spanish sherry butts.

These go to the firm’s own cooperage nearby to be prepared for use at the distillery.

The man in charge there is Don Ramsay, who started his working life on Christmas Day, 1961, one week after his 15th birthday, later serving a four-year apprenticeship to become a cooper.

Glenfiddich wined and dined its visiting scribes in the Robbie Dhu Centre in the company of Peter Grant Gordon and David Stewart.

Haggis, neeps and tatties were followed by a blockbuster venison dish and forest fruit and whisky parfait tart.

However, the piece de resistance after dinner came from Mr Stewart.

In honour of the 40th anniversary of the visitor centre, he produced glasses of 40-year-old Glenfiddich as a grand finale.

Even better, he announced that the firm is about to bottle a 50-year-old Glenfiddich. But start saving now – it will retail at £7,500 a bottle.

The Glenfiddich visitor centre was opened in July, 1969, by Janet Roberts, whose husband, Eric, was then chairman. This remarkable woman, the granddaughter of the founder, is still alive at 107 and living in the Dufftown area.

On average, more than 70,000 visitors a year flock to the heart of malt-whisky territory to see the traditional methods employed in creating the world’s most awarded single-malt Scotch whisky.

In 2008, 75% of these visitors flew in from 95 countries, including destinations as far afield as Japan, Russia and China, to visit the five-star distillery visitor centre and bear witness to Glenfiddich’s time-honoured techniques. For 2009, a guide team is currently gearing up to accept another influx of overseas and domestic visitors, with tours available in nine languages.

Glenfiddich Distillery tours offer the opportunity to see skilled craftsmen – 10 of whom have been mending and tending the casks at the distillery since the visitor centre opened 40 years ago – carefully maintaining the distinctive flavour of Glenfiddich using processes lost to most other distilleries.

For UK-based visitors embracing “stay-cations” this year, Glenfiddich promises a truly special immersive experience, one that will far outlast that would-be summer tan.

The five-star Glenfiddich visitor centre has outstanding facilities and multilingual guides, and includes a dram with the cost of the tour.

To book a group visit, phone the Glenfiddich Distillery visitor centre on 01340 820373, or complete the booking request form on the website at

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

08 Jun

What whisky means to Scotland

THERE is no greater ambassador for Scotland than a bottle of fine Scotch whisky. It is truly the essence of Scotland that knows no boundaries and travels far and wide. How often have you heard of reference to the “Spirit of Scotland”?

Scotland’s national drink undeniably encompasses the diverse regions, landscapes and passionate people who make it what it is today. When I open a bottle of whisky I always think back to the day it was distilled and of the individuals who expertly ran the stills and casked the spirit. In sipping a dram, I know that millions of people the world over are doing the same, experiencing those distinctive flavours unique to Scotland. And I am in good company, after all, with 39 bottles of Scotch whisky being sold every second.

During my work at the Scotch Whisky Experience, we meet more than 250,000 visitors every year from all over the world eager to explore the subject of whisky. From them, I have heard emotive and inspiring words on the subject of a dram which help me to appreciate the allure and mystic nature of whisky with fresh eyes.

Over New Year, I spent some time with a couple from New York who loved their usual brand of blended whisky back home and were overwhelmed by what they discovered in Scotland. They couldn’t wait to convert all their friends to the delights of how Scotch whisky mirrors Scotland itself and were planning to have a little tasting after dinner, illustrating each dram with the pictures of their holiday.

It got me thinking about how much Scotch whisky really mirrors Scotland. Few drinks evoke such a sense of place, but a sip of sea-soaked Islay malt can’t fail to take you to Scotland’s rugged coastline, while a taste of mellow Speyside malt will transport you to the gentle, rolling hills and glens of the Spey valley. All too often, these images of Scotland are passed over as tired and overplayed, but there is no doubting their authenticity and power to call to mind a truly inspiring moment in time.

For me, it’s driving round a bend in the road, reaching the top of a mountainous summit or looking up from the hard slog as you cycle through the countryside and being rewarded with a view which is a snapshot of a moment in time that you will never forget. Here, my favourite quote from one of our visitors rings true – “A picture may speak 1,000 words, but a bottle of single malt sings 10,000 songs”.

Scotch whisky is far more than just a spirit; it becomes a call to action to discover and rediscover the far-flung areas where we distil the water of life.

Another affirmation of this is the fact that the largest collection of Scotch whiskies in the world was not amassed in Speyside or Islay, or even Edinburgh, but Sao Paolo, Brazil. Claive Vidiz, the Brazilian businessman who amassed the extraordinary collection of 3,384 bottles over a period of 35 years, pays testament to the truly global nature of Scotch whisky’s appeal.

This year, there is no greater homecoming for Scotland than the return of his collection to its roots, where it will be housed in the Scotch Whisky Experience, situated in the heart on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile and under the watchful eye of its new owner, Diageo.

As the collection left Brazil, Claive Vidiz bade an emotional farewell to his great treasure trove of malts and blends with the Brazilian saying, “The good son always returns home”.

Julie Trevisan-Hunter is marketing manager at the Scotch Whisky Experience, 354 Castlehill, Edinburgh. Visit the website at

This Father’s Day, the Scotch Whisky Experience has everything on hand for whisky-loving dads with an online whisky shop delivering UK-wide and exclusive activities including day-long whisky schools. The ultimate online Scotch whisky superstore features more than 300 varieties of malts and blends, as well as exclusive gift sets and quirky accessories. Whisky novices who want to buy fathers their favourite tipple can navigate the extensive selection through a special personal shopping service staffed by Scotch whisky experts at the attraction.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

04 Jun

Scottish hotel creates coffee blend just for whisky

A Scottish hotel has devised its own blend of coffee to match a locally-produced malt whisky in what is thought to be the first time a coffee has been blended specifically to pair with a whisky.

The new coffee is the Cuillin Hills blend, which the Cuillin Hills hotel on Skye has created to complement the whisky from the island’s Talisker distillery. It was blended by the Edinburgh Tea and Coffee Company to the specification of Peter Sim, the hotel’s general manager.

“I wanted a coffee that would be able to be robust enough and flavoursome enough to stand up to a malt whisky after dinner,” he told us. “Although the blend was developed with Talisker 18-year-old as its 'marker', it can work with all malts. But it had to be able to have a lingering finish that complemented Islay and Island Single Malts.”

The answer, says Peter Sim, was found in a blend of Indonesian, south and central American coffees. The central American is an El Salvadorian coffee from the well-known La Fany farm, there is a Brazilian ‘pulped natural’ (a drying method which keeps more of the natural sugar in the bean) and the Indonesians are a Sulawesi and a Sumatra, which bring a fruity-chocolate character to the blend.

“The Indonesian coffee is the secret key,” says Peter Sim.

This is the latest of several projects to match whisky and coffee. In recent years, the master blender at Whyte and Mackay, Richard Paterson, has worked with Union Hand-Roasted of London on a series of pairings which could actually go on restaurant and hotel menus. In that experiment, the coffees were not blended to match the whiskies, but Jeremy Torz of Union used his coffee expertise to seek out existing coffees which would match.

“After numerous tastings together, Richard Paterson and I matched coffees with particular ‘expressions’, the highly-appropriate whisky industry term for different styles and tastes. It became apparent that in finding very high-quality single origin coffees and exploring their own nuances, one could not only complement to the whisky, but allow the drinker to enjoy additional notes in each beverage that were only realised when the two were brought together.

“Whilst we have not run the coffee and whisky pairing in the press or public domain recently, it did generate lots of interest and at least one bar in London did offer a carte of 4 distinct pairings that guests could choose from. Last summer I also ran a tasting of our most popular pairings for the Peach Pub company last summer at one of their houses in Warwickshire – it was an evening ticketed event that proved very popular.”

Article Courtesy of Caterer Search


Caterer Search

03 Jun

Scotch whisky pledges to go green

Scotch whisky firms have pledged to cut their use of fossil fuels by 80% over the next 40 years under the first industry-wide environmental strategy.

The industry said it would mean an annual saving by 2050 of more than 750,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

This would be the equivalent of taking more than 235,000 cars off Scotland's roads, it claimed.

The strategy has been welcomed by Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead.

The Scotch Whisky Association, which spent two years formulating the strategy, said cutting the reliance on fossil fuels was only one of a number of tough industry-wide targets.

These will include a significant reduction in the average weight of packaging used, the elimination of sending waste from packaging operations to landfill sites, a commitment to source future whisky casks only from sustainable oak forests, and to maintain the highest standards of water use and discharge management.

Fossil fuel use will be reduced by improving operational efficiency and investment in new technology, with an emphasis on renewable sources of energy.

Targets have been set in two phases, 2020 and 2050, and the industry said it would publish its achievements annually to show what progress had been made.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "Today's launch of our first industry-wide environmental strategy is a bold move by distillers. We believe it demonstrates our commitment to securing Scotch whisky's future, addressing issues of the environment and the economy.

"Investment of over £100m has been approved in environment-related improvements over the last 18 months alone. The good news is that we are making more whisky but already using less energy."

He said distillers planned to work closely with their supply chain in order to jointly reduce the impact on the environment.

Mr Lochhead praised whisky producers for being the first industry in Scotland to commit to the climate change targets set by the Scottish Government for 2050.

'Real benefit'

"The future of Scotland's iconic whisky industry relies on our equally iconic and prestigious environment and the industry is ahead of the game with this pioneering strategy. If delivered fully, these commitments will be of real benefit to our environment," he said.

Richard Dixon, director of environmental group WWF Scotland, also welcomed the launch of the strategy.

He said: "Scotch whisky is world renowned and we welcome plans to reduce the environmental footprint of each and every dram. We particularly welcome the fact that they have set themselves targets to reduce their impact.

"Since the whisky industry relies on Scotland's clean environment for its main ingredients it is important the industry takes steps to reduce its potential impacts.

"As the whisky industry learns more about the total impacts of its activities we expect to see the targets being raised in a number of key areas."

Article Courtesy of BBCi



02 Jun

New whisky gift packs for Father’s Day

This June, Diageo Great Britain (GB) is offering a selection of great gift options for Father's Day (21 June) including the launch of the Single Malt Whisky Flavour Experience (RRSP £12) - a new 4 x 5cl miniature malt whisky gift pack available in Oddbins, Selfridges, Nicholas and whisky specialists.

There will also be a variety of items available from the Johnnie Walker brand leading with The Johnnie Walker Blue Label Walker & Son gift set (RRSP £200).

Father's Day is one of the leading occasions for retailers to drive whisky sales in store. The Single Malt Whisky Flavour Experience is the first flavour-based malt whisky gift pack from Diageo GB and contains a brand to represent each of the four flavour profiles: Light & Floral - Glenkinchie 12 Year Old, Fruity & Spicy - Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old, Rich & Rounded - The Singleton of Dufftown 12 Year Old, Full-bodied & Smoky - Talisker 10 Year Old.

The pack also includes a guide to the flavours of malt whisky with tasting notes to give consumers a genuine tasting experience at home.

The Single Malt Whisky Flavour Experience enables retailers to offer a package with something to suit a range of tastes making it an ideal Father's Day gift choice for consumers.

Launching this Father's Day across whisky specialists, it will be rolled out more widely this Autumn. The 5cl bottles will also be available as individual SKUs across whisky specialists, and convenience retailers.

Article Courtesy of Talking Retail


Talking Retail

01 Jun

eCRM programme to distill whisky loyalty

One of Scotland’s best-known malt whisky brands is launching a global relationship marketing programme aimed at building consumer loyalty. Glenfiddich Single Malt, owned by the independent family business William Grant & Sons, is working with Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw on multi-channel activity, including email, direct mail, SMS and a web-based community.

Utadi Murphy, global relationship marketing manager at William Grant & Sons, says: “Relationship marketing is a key growth driver for our core brands; our online Explorers community will provide visitors with stimulating insights into the pleasures of whisky drinking and the distinctive taste of Glenfiddich. It will help us develop loyalty to the brand, increase frequency and relevance of contact and effectively measure increases in consumption and commitment.”

Targeted at “smart, modern and experienced” men aged 35 and over, the activity will roll out globally following its launch in the UK. Consumers are invited via emails and banner ads to register at the Explorers section of .The distiller recently reamped the website for its Balvenie brand by inviting tasting notes and ratings - Explorers includes a blog, films, editorial and ineractive elements.

Marc Nohr, managing partner at Kitcatt Nohr, says: “Glenfiddich is an iconic Scotch whisky brand around the world, so we’re very proud to have created their global eCRM programme. We particularly wanted to help the Glenfiddich brand create a deeper emotional bond with its existing and future consumers. To achieve this we championed all the elements of whisky making and drinking which make Glenfiddich the world-leading Single Malt Scotch whisky. The resulting relationship marketing programme will offer Glenfiddich consumers a richer relationship with the brand.

Article Courtesy of Marketing Week


Marketing Week
May 2009 Scotch Whisky News

30 May

Scotch whisky industry criticised for not having enough ‘green’ bottle

Some renewable and recycling targets seen as ‘unnecessarily vague'

THE SCOTTISH whisky industry will this week impose environmental targets on itself in an effort to improve its green credentials, but campaigners have criticised it for not going far enough.

The 11 targets to be set by industry body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) include obtaining 20% of distillation boiler fuels, by far the biggest energy cost, from renewable sources by 2020, and 80% by 2050. Other targets for 2020 include reducing packaging by 10% and making 40% of it recycled, and sending no packaging waste to landfill.

The SWA also intends to ensure that all casks are made from sustainable oak, and will set out more general aims such as managing water usage, continuing to make the industry more energy efficient and encouraging distributors and other companies in the supply chain to adopt higher environmental standards.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, SWA director of operational and technical affairs, called the targets a "step change" for the industry. She said that it already had a good environmental record, having cut energy use per whisky litre by 14% in 10 years, for example. However, she said the industry intended to go further to help the Scottish government achieve its own aim of making all energy 20% renewable by 2020.

She said: "Because the industry is so closely tied to using cereals and water and manufacturing in Scotland, its environmental credentials are very much built in. But people don't just want us to comply. They want us to be exemplary."

Patrick Harvie, joint convener of the Scottish Green Party, welcomed the moves but said that they could have been "more ambitious" and were in some cases "unnecessarily vague". He said: "For example, the industry could move relatively easily to 100% recycled glass and cardboard for packaging, perhaps even by 2020, rather than merely aiming for a 40% target.

"With good use of local biomass and other renewables, we believe they could also replace at least 50% of their current fuel usage by 2020.

"On water usage, energy efficiency and shifting to sustainably-sourced oak casks, it would be a start just to set some practical targets, rather than the current vague aspirations."

Julie Hesketh-Laird said that targets such as 20% renewable fuel usage and 40% recycled packaging were intended to be "deliverable but stretching".

She said that some targets, such as those for water, were vague because the industry already had a good record in them but wanted to acknowledge their importance.

In response to concerns that the environmental records of other companies in the supply chain would be difficult to police, SWA government and public affairs director Campbell Adams said that the industry's Scottish manufacturing base meant that it was much more tied to working with local partners than other sectors such as food and clothing production.

Article Courtesy of Sunday Herald


Sunday Herald

27 Apr

Domestic whisky market 'congested by surfeit of choice'

Whisky producers are being urged to improve their UK marketing and encourage more drinkers to trade up to single malts in the wake of figures showing domestic sales lagging behind exports.

Whisky producers are being urged to improve their UK marketing and encourage more drinkers to trade up to single malts in the wake of figures showing domestic sales lagging behind exports.

Exports of bottled single malt whisky grew a record 9% to £497m over 2008, and blended sales increased 9% to £2.43bn, Scotch Whisky Association figures revealed this week. But blended whisky sales in the UK rose 4% to £774m and malt sales were up 3% to £134m.

Campbell Evans, director of government and consumer affairs at the Scotch Whisky Association, blamed the weaker growth on a market "congested due to the sheer number of choices" for consumers.

"Even though the UK is the third-largest consumer of Scotch whisky in the world, more than 90% of our business remains overseas and encouraging British consumers to trade up to higher-value bottled malt whisky rather than blended remains challenging."

To stand out and keep UK sales buoyant through the recession, companies must concentrate on raising awareness of their brands to encourage consumer loyalty, said Rob Bruce, Whyte & Mackay's communications head.

"The UK Scotch whisky market is going through a tough time. The key to survival in this climate is remaining relevant to consumers to ensure you are their brand of choice," he said.

"But we feel confident that, in these difficult times, consumers here still want to treat themselves to a good whisky, particularly one from a brand they know and trust."

Article Courtesy of The Grocer


The Grocer

26 May

Scottish Green Awards: Island whisky company leads way in fight against climate change

IT'S the industry built around the water of life. So it makes sense that a whisky company should be one of the leading lights in the fight against climate change in Scotland.

The small but perfectly formed Bruichladdich distillery on Islay is one of the first nominees of the first ever Daily Record Scottish Green Awards.

The new event is being staged later this year to recognise exceptional achievements and efforts in the fight for the environment, in terms of organic production, renewables, recycling, waste reduction and efforts to make everyone's carbon footprint as small as possible.

Backed by energy company ScottishPower, the Scottish Green Awards reward individuals, companies, community groups, schools and hospitals who have shown initiative and exceptional work in the bid to go green.

One of the first nominees for the awards is the Islay distillery Bruichladdich.

The small distillery in theWestern Isles was reborn eight years ago when the formerly mothballed premises were taken over by new management, and since then, the whisky label has grown from strength to strength.

The firm has 46 employees and sells its luxury whisky to almost every country in the world. One of the main reasons for its success has been the firm's unofficial motto - Clean and Green.

The team have revitalised the local community through a drive to get local farmers growing barley, so they can source the vital ingredient for the spirit as locally as possible.

Their sourcing policies are so clear that they are able to trace every drop of whisky back to the acre the barley was originally farmed on.

The company have also opened up the first bottling plant in the iconic whisky-producing island's history, use local spring water and are engaged in energy saving, recycling and conservation strategies that have made them among the leaders in the green whisky drive.

The Bruichladdich Master Distiller Jim McEwan said that the organic, transparent and environmentally responsible approach was one of the most important factors in the firm's recent revival and success.

He said: "The modern consumer likes traceability, likes to know the name, and we call tell you the name of the farmer and go into the field where the local barley comes from.

"Local sourcing was very much at the front of our minds when we re-opened, and we wanted it to have as much Islay DNA and spirit as humanly possible.

"When we started there were no farmers growing barley on the island for whisky distillers, not since the 1960s, so we approached farmers, got some interested and they came on board. Now there are up to 12 farmers producing barley for us, and 45 per cent of our barley requirement comes from Islay."

The organic sourcing is one of the most successful strategies the company has pursued in terms of green working, but they have further reduced their carbon footprint, in terms of haulage and transportation fuel and cost, by becoming the first distillery on the island to bottle themselves.

Jim said: "We also decided we would bottle all our whisky on the island rather than sending it away while it is maturing, so we invested in a small bottling plant here - there has never been one on the island before.

"So that has also been good for the island. We're the biggest employer on the island, even though we are the smallest distiller, and that's because of the way we do things. We like people to make the whisky, so you can feel the pulse of the island, the human input.

"The whole area of Rhinns, where we are based, has been lifted by the work we do, and everybody who works for the company is a shareholder."

The company have been entered for the Best Green SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) award, and their nomination includes praise for the way they have championed local organic produce, and reduced oil consumption by 17 per cent.

Anyone can enter or put others forward for the awards, backed by ScottishPower, the Daily Record, Glasgow City Council and SEPA, and the winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Glasgow Science Centre on Thursday October 1, this year.

An expert panel of judges will choose the winners from judging material which will be researched and presented by the David Livingstone Centre for Sustainability. Also supporting this inaugural event will be the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment and RSA, The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Bruichladdich are one of the first green-minded companies to be nominated, and Jim said he was delighted the firm's hard work was being recognised by the organisers, but added that the whole whisky industry has been doing sterling work to go green.

Jim explained: "The Scotch Whisky Industry is a large family. I've been in the business for 46 years and things have never been better in terms of best use of energy and resources.

"While we are a small company doing what we can, the bigger companies have been doing a great job as well.

"For ourselves, we have recently been certificated so our product can be sold in North America as an organic spirit, and there is a real market for this."

Jim continued: "It took us five years of hard work to get that licence, but it is a major breakthrough.

"We're doing our stuff with farms, using Islay water, running the bottling hall and exporting around the world from a tiny island.

"We're a little clan and this is the most exciting time in my career.

"It's a great honour for us to be considered, and it would be very pleasing for the whole company if we were to received such an award in recognition of what we are trying to achieve.

"You sometimes wonder is anyone out there listening to what you're saying, and it's good to know that they are."


Best Green SME This award recognises the efforts of a small to medium size business - turnover between £5-£20 million - in helping to improve the environment. Entrants must have been trading for a minimum of 18 months and should be located in Scotland. Best Green Large Company This recognises the efforts of a company - turnover greater than £20 million - in helping to improve the environment. Entrants must have been trading for a minimum of 18 months and should be located in Scotland. Best Green Industry SME Company This recognises SME companies - turnover between £5m to £20m - which are in the environment industry and making a major contribution to improving the environment. Entrants must have been trading for a minimum of 18 months and should be located in Scotland. Best Green Industry Large Company This recognises large companies - turnover greater than £20m - which are in the environment industry and making a major contribution to improving the environment. Entrants must have been trading for a minimum of 18 months and should be located in Scotland. Best Green Community Initiative This award will go to an initiative that improves the environment and has been led and developed by a community. Best Green Senior Campaigner

This is designed to encourage and reward the techniques of a Scottish Senior campaigner - must be over 18.

Best Junior Campaigner Sponsored by Glasgow City Council This is designed to encourage and reward the techniques of a Scottish junior campaigner - under the age of 18.

Best Green Transport/ Travel Provider This recognises a transport provider's success in improving the environment in Scotland. Best Green School This recognises a school which has taken the initiative on projects which have been environmentally friendly. Best Green Hospital This recognises the efforts of a hospital to meet high standards of environmental awareness. Outstanding Contribution to the Scottish Environment Sponsored by Scottish Power This will go to an individual, group, company or organisation which has made a key contribution to improving the environment. Best Green PR Campaign This is for the best campaign that effectively uses public relations to build awareness, or support corporate values on community, social, ethical or reputational issues.

For details, log onto or contact Lisa Goodwin on 0141 309 3095. For sponsorship or tickets, contact Michele Aaen on 0141 309 1438.'We're the biggest employer on the island, that's because of the way we do things'

Article Courtesy of Daily Record


Daily Record

25 May

Distilling the wisdom to become a dram fine whisky company

While the CBI reported that manufacturers are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel this week, the latest industrial trends survey by the employers' organisation showed that most firms are still under the cosh. Orders seem to be hard to come by at home and the decline in the value of the pound since last year has not yet translated into a big boost to exports. But in this week's SME Focus a whisky producer provides a reminder that those firms prepared to put in the effort at the right time can reap huge rewards from investing in growing overseas sales. The young sales expert at the helm of the firm, however, warns that simply having a good product is not enough.

Name Alistair Walker

Age: 34

What is your business called: BenRiach Distillery Company.

Where is it based: The head office is in Larbert, outside Falkirk. We have two distilleries - BenRiach is near Elgin and GlenDronach is in Forgue, Aberdeenshire.

What services does it offer: We are a single malt whisky distiller and we ship to more than 30 countries worldwide. As well as producing top-end malt whisky, we develop the packaging and market our brands, both in the UK and internationally.

To whom does it sell: We sell to people the world over, from malt whisky connoisseurs to novices.

What is its turnover: Approximately £12.5m in 2008.

How many employees: Thirty. At head office we have 10, with a further 20 in our two distilleries.

When was it formed: BenRiach Distillery Company was established in April 2004 after my father Billy Walker and two South African investors bought it from Pernod Ricard. BenRiach Distillery was founded in 1898. We added GlenDronach to the portfolio in August 2008 and it was founded in 1826.

Why did you take the plunge: My father had been involved in whisky distilling for more than three decades but had never had the chance to have his own distillery. This was a rare chance within a limited window of opportunity to buy BenRiach. The timing was fortuitous because a year later the single malt market went ballistic and it has been a fantastic period of growth ever since. I came on board in October 2004, having worked in whisky for over six years with Burn Stewart.

What were you doing before you took the plunge: I studied maths at Glasgow University. After graduating, I joined Burn Stewart and got a taste for the whisky business. I then went back to university to do a Masters in Finance. At this time my old man was putting together his plan to purchase BenRiach.

How did you raise the start-up funding: We had (and still have) two very entrepreneurial shareholders from South Africa, Geoff Bell and Wayne Kieswetter, who are whisky enthusiasts. We also approached Lloyds TSB to get a portion of the funding to buy the distillery. We moved to the Clydesdale after a couple of years and they were very helpful with the acquisition of GlenDronach last year.

What was your biggest break: Last year we managed to get one of our core products, BenRiach Curiositas, listed with the Swedish monopoly. It gives us huge exposure in a fantastic Scandinavian single malt market.

What was your worst moment: The scariest moment was in Russia two years ago when I went there for a week of tastings and customer visits. The importer's sales rep, the translator and I picked up a taxi in Novorossiysk and were heading to Sochi, a 120-mile journey over lots of curvy, single-track mountain roads. The driver took a bend too quickly, hit some loose rocks and went into a spin. We did a 180-degree skid and looked up to see a car coming straight towards us. With seconds to spare, our driver managed to get us straight and swerve out of the way. It was a close call.

What do you most enjoy about running the business: Coming from a sales background, I find it very satisfying when you see hard slog over a period of time converted into firm orders. Another enjoyable thing is opening up new niche markets in unusual places; I'm delighted to say we are big in Kazakhstan, where every year we sell some 500 cases of top-end malt.

What do you least enjoy: I'm not a great fan of hanging around airports. I waste a lot of time in transit and that's very frustrating.

What is your ambition for the business: To grow the BenRiach brand to 50,000 cases a year, but at the same time we need to maintain its niche status. We need to take GlenDronach, formerly quite a big brand but under-promoted, and restore it to where we think it belongs.

What are your top priorities: For BenRiach, it's a question of building what we have in existing territories and growing volume. For GlenDronach, we're at a much earlier stage. We are busy building distribution, finding new export customers and developing the product range.

What single thing would help most: If you can get a listing with a high-quality national retailer, in any market, that gets you national coverage in the right setting and can help enormously.

What could the government do that would most help: Tax in this country is one of the highest in Europe and duty on whisky increased in the recent Budget, the second increase in the space of a few months.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned: You're only as good as your importer. You can have the best product in the world but if you don't have a good importer, you're not going to do any business. So the combination of a good product and a good importer is the Holy Grail. Another important thing is to keep building bridges; you may have had knock-backs but you never know when a customer you've tried unsuccessfully to woo may become an opportunity further down the line.

How do you relax: Running, football (playing and spectating) and listening to music. And naturally, a wee GlenDronach or BenRiach.

Article Courtesy of The Herald


The Herald

22 May

Guides wanted for distillery visitor centre

Marketing initiative to promote north-east malt

Residents in the Huntly area with an eye on local history and a nose for one of the area’s premier whiskies could be in the running for a seasonal Year of Homecoming job on their doorstep.

Stirlingshire-based Ben Riach, which recently bought the Glendronach Distillery at Forgue, has unveiled plans for a £250,000 marketing initiative to promote the north-east malt.

It has created a visitor centre at Glendronach, and now two guides are to be recruited to highlight the history of the distillery to tourists in the summer.

No experience is necessary, and the jobs will suit people who live locally and “have a passion” for Glendronach whisky.

BenRiach Distillery Company marketing manager Kerry White said yesterday: “We are working hard to reposition Glendronach as a top malt whisky and our marketing is targeting visitors from the UK and overseas.

“We are now looking for two local and enthusiastic, reliable individuals who can assist with distillery tours and the day-to-day running of a new shop and help bring the visitor centre to life.”

Applicants should be able to work 26 hours a week, including regular weekend shifts. They should also enjoy meeting people and be determined to make visits a memorable and enjoyable experience.

CVs should be sent to info@glendronachdistillery/, or telephone 01324 682220.

The distillery was founded in 1826 by whisky entrepreneur James Allardice.

Glendronach — Gaelic for Valley of the Bramble — takes its name from the Dronach Burn that winds through the distillery.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

21 May

Edinburgh Whisky Blender’s charity bike ride raises £3,000

Ian Macleod Distillers’ Assistant Blender, John Glass, is taking a well-deserved rest after raising almost £3,000 by completing an arduous 1,106 mile cycle to raise awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

Accompanied by good friend, Kenneth Taylor, the pair successfully completed the cycle unaided, from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 12 days, averaging 92 miles a day and raising a total of £2965.59 or £2.68 per mile.

John Glass (26) commented: “The cycle itself went really well, despite flooding in Cornwall and getting soaked before we even started, we somehow managed to dry off most of our clothes on the road over the next two days. I also managed to write-off my new bike that I bought for the trip, cracking the frame, but at least it managed to hold together just long enough for us to reach John O’Groats.

“Because we decided to avoid the direct route and stick to B and minor roads which ended up adding over 200 miles – and a lot of hills, to our journey, but it was worth it and the scenery was fantastic. We completely smashed our target and are delighted to have been able to support the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as it’s a charity that does not get enough attention and is hopefully close to making some major breakthroughs.”

Ian Macleod Distillers did their bit to assist both John and Kenneth, providing emergency reviving miniature bottles Glengoyne Single Malt Whisky to help ease aches and pains during the tough cycle and a charitable donation to their cause.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust is the UK's only national charity dedicated to all aspects of Cystic Fibrosis, the most common life-threatening inherited disease in Britain. Since its founding in 1964, the CF Trust has been working to improve the lives of people with Cystic Fibrosis, raise the profile of the disease and fund research into a cure.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

21 May

How to train to be a master whisky blender

Making whisky is a slow process and it took Brian Kinsman a few years to get started – which explains why, at 37, he may well be one of the oldest apprentices in the country.

“There’s nothing fast about blending whisky,” laughs Brian, an apprentice master blender. “There are no shortcuts and you certainly can’t speed up the learning process.”

That calm approach to life is one of the many qualities that won him the coveted job at William Grant & Sons, producers of Glenfiddich, Grant’s, The Balvenie and other spirits.

His mentor is the Scotch whisky industry’s Grand Master, David Stewart – who has been Grant’s Master Blender for 35 years.

When he retires, Brian will assume the responsibility, becoming only the sixth Master since the blend was first created in 1887. The first was Mr William Grant himself, who was in charge until he died aged 83.

For Brian as for William, the heart of the job is the blender’s nose. These days, Brian can “nose” up to 1,000 samples of whisky in a day.

Which is why he spends so much of his time with his nose in tulip-shaped glasses of whisky.

“Over the years I’ve learned to detect all the differences,” says Brian.

“Some changes I smell may mean a change to a blend or process. Our consumers want their blends to taste the same.

“I see my job as guardian of the quality of our whiskies.”

Nosing is a tricky business and Brian has to live carefully.

“The hardest part is keeping other smells away so your nose isn’t distracted. I work in a sterile room and you don’t know how hard it was to find an odourless deodorant!”

Brian does his best nosing mid-morning, in between meals “Some food or drinks can affect your smell. Coffee for instance is a dominant flavour and may confuse ‘notes’.”

Colds are a huge problem. “It’s possible to struggle on with minor colds but if they get too bad, it’s back to the paperwork.”

Interestingly, Brian had no idea he had a gifted nose until he joined the firm 12 years ago.

“I’d done a science degree and then got a job working in the dental industry. I spotted an advert one day for this whisky job and was immediately gripped.”

From day one Brian loved the whisky world. “I walked into the labs and there were bottles of whisky on the shelves. I started to appreciate what goes into making this amazing drink.”

Along with colleagues, Brian volunteered to join the company nosing panel which ensures quality control every day.

“I had to identify and describe 20 smells. I then moved on to more subtle ones and finally when they were satisfied I had a good nose I joined the panel.”

Article Courtesy of The Mirror


The Mirror

20 May

Glengoyne reaches new heights with Tannoy Speakers

Award-winning Glengoyne Highland Single Malt has successfully secured an exclusive presence at Europe’s largest and most renowned audio-visual event, the HIGH END show in Munich (21-24 May), thanks to a unique partnership with fellow Scottish brand, Tannoy.

Built on the companies’ shared commitment and passion for outstanding craftsmanship and only the highest quality, the collaboration at HIGH END brings together Tannoy’s renowned ‘Made in Scotland’ heritage, with Glengoyne’s authentic ‘Real Taste of Malt’ credentials.

Over 250,000 attendees are expected at the four-day HIGH END show, which will premier the latest technology in high-quality home entertainment to all connoisseurs and enthusiasts of excellent sound and perfect pictures.

The only whisky brand present at the event, Glengoyne will host an exclusive VIP stylish bar for Tannoy, with brand ambassador on hand to provide guided tastings and educate visitors in the art of whisky making and blending. Glengoyne will also be presenting its latest Limited Edition, Glengoyne 40 Years Old, the distillery’s oldest, most valuable, and very best Single Malt ever produced in its 175 year history.

Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, brand owners of Glengoyne, commented: “We are thrilled to be the only whisky brand attending such a prestigious event with Tannoy. Glengoyne and Tannoy share a common ground as successful independent Scottish businesses, who have built a strong reputation in the UK and abroad. We also share a very similar premium customer base and I am sure that working together will help us reach new audiences by reinforcing our key messages and common objectives.”

HIGH END is the first outing of what is expected to be a highly successful and mutually beneficial partnership, introducing new audiences to both brands, with planning for future events already underway.

Owned by independent family company, Ian Macleod Distillers, Glengoyne, Scotland’s most beautiful distillery, has been producing its unique and complex, Highland Single Malt Whisky for over 175 years. Using methods passed down for generations, Glengoyne has nurtured and perfected the art of producing the authentic taste of Malt Whisky, untainted by peat smoke. The result is a portfolio of multi-award winning whiskies including the core 10, 17 and 21 Years Old range, as well as special limited edition Single Malts, released each year.

Founded in 1926, Tannoy is one of the world’s leading specialists in Residential Audio, Installation Speakers and Studio Monitor. Its newest addition in residential hi-fi line up, Definition will be launched at the HIGH END event.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

20 May

Scotch whisky distilleries escape alcohol display ban

Scotch whisky distilleries will escape a crackdown on alcohol displays, devised by Scotland's Government as part of its strategy to tackle alcohol abuse.

Gift shops at Scotland's 42 whisky distilleries, as well more than 30 breweries, will not have to abide by proposed new rules to restrict alcohol on display in retailers, Scotland's ruling National Party (SNP) said yesterday (18 May).

The Government's change of heart marks a victory for the industry, which has long argued that applying the new rules to gift shops will damage tourism and penalise small drinks firms.

Scotch Whisky Association spokesperson Campbell Evans said: "We have worked closely with the Government to agree a pragmatic and workable solution so that visitor centres can continue to showcase Scotch Whisky and a wide range of other local products."

Scottish ministers laid its proposal to restrict alcoholic drinks displays before the country's Parliament yesterday.

Justic secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "Our regulations to prevent alcohol being displayed in more than one area of a shop, were designed to prevent alcohol being displayed all over the store to encourage impulse buying."

The SNP intends to introduce the law under the existing Licensing Act 2005 and aims to begin enforcing restrictions in September 2009.

Other proposals made by the SNP to curb alcohol abuse, including a minimum price, can only be introduced if new legislation is passed in Parliament.

Article Courtesy of Just Drinks


Just Drinks

19 May

Glengoyne Launch Limited Edition 40 Years Old Highland Single Malt

For the first time in its 175 year history, award-winning Glengoyne Distillery is to release its oldest, most valuable, and very best, Highland Single Malt: the Glengoyne 40 Years Old.

The embodiment of Glengoyne’s famed unpeated and authentic ‘Real Taste of Malt’, the natural strength 40 Years Old Highland Single Malt is regarded by the distillery to be one of the finest whiskies they have ever produced. Its superior quality and flavour reflecting Glengoyne’s long standing commitment and enthusiasm for their craft and heritage.

Every detail of the design and presentation of the Limited Edition Single Malt was carefully considered to reflect the outstanding character and craftsmanship of the Glengoyne 40 Years Old. Even the producer of the stunning hand blown crystal decanter, Glencairn Crystal, a well-respected independent Scottish family company, was specially selected for its shared values with Glengoyne.

The shape of the crystal decanter creates a strong visual feature of the 40 Years Old Single Malt’s dark copper colour, complemented by gold engraving. Each decanter’s individual number, engraved in the base, is accompanied by an etching of Scotland’s most beautiful distillery, reflecting up through the malt itself.

The 11 times lacquered piano-finished solid oak wood presentation box, complete with gold plates on the front and hand-stitched cream leather interior, further reinforces the excellent quality and showcases the rich, natural colour of the 40 Years Old Malt. An accompanying cream leather and gold foil traditionally bound book, personally signed by Distillery Manager, Robbie Hughes, provides tasting notes and detailed background on Glengoyne’s long and illustrious history as an independent distillery since 1833.

With a nose of red apples, crème brulee and strawberries and cream, the Glengoyne 40 Years Old offers a complex and oily mouth feel of ripe bananas, spiced plums, honey and cereal, before drying into grapefruit and soft oak, with a long and lingering dry finish.

Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, brand owners of Glengoyne commented:

“This is a world class, once in a lifetime bottling. It was essential that the design and presentation of the Glengoyne 40 Years Old Highland Single Malt be a true reflection of its outstanding quality and reinforce its position as one of the top luxury Limited Edition Single Malts available in the market today.

The 40 Years Old Single Malt captures the pure essence of Glengoyne, from its heritage and craftsmanship through to its exceptional and unpeated ‘Real Taste of Malt’. It is a joy to open casks after four decades and find such great balance between malt and Still. It doesn’t get any better than this”.

From August just 250 crystal decanters of this unique and treasured Malt from Glengoyne’s rare whisky reserves will be available from specialist whisky outlets in the UK and worldwide, Domestic RRP £3,750.

Stylish diamond display plinths, designed to complement the bottle design and create maximum standout, will also be used to showcase the Glengoyne 40 Years Old in opinion-leading international luxury outlets.

Glengoyne Highland Single Malt is one of the leading premium malt whiskies in the world and has been distilled at Glengoyne distillery since 1833. The 40 Years Old Highland Single Malt joins a multi gold award-winning range, which includes the Single Malt 10 Years Old, 12 Years Old Cask Strength, 17 Years Old and 21 Years Old, as well as a number of limited edition single casks released each year.

Curious to discover more visit:

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

19 May

Whisky producer toasts boost in overseas sales

Inver House says Old Pulteney and Balblair malts strong performers

Whisky producer Inver House Distillers (IHD) highlighted strong international sales growth for two of its single malts and the blended Hankey Bannister brand as it unveiled a surge in profits yesterday.

IHD owns five distilleries throughout Scotland – Pulteney, Balblair, Speyburn, Knockdhu and Balmenach – and manages the production, distillation and maturation of a broad portfolio of drink brands in markets globally.

It said sales of its maritime-themed Old Pulteney single malt, produced at Wick, soared 16% by value last year after awareness of the brand was raised through an annual photography competition, sponsorship of high-profile sailing regattas in the UK and various other activities.

IHD said it was continuing to target markets in the UK, key areas of continental Europe and South Africa for sales of Old Pulteney, whose distillery was only accessible by sea when it was established in 1826.

The group’s Balblair single malt, produced at Edderton, by the Dornoch Firth, saw a 23% rise in sales in 2008. Balblair was relaunched two years ago and IHD has since ramped up its promotion of the whisky to core markets in the UK, France and Japan.

IHD, which has its headquarters at Airdrie, said blended malt brand Hankey Bannister – a favourite tipple of Sir Winston Churchill – grew sales by 20% last year, with exports reaching more than 40 countries.

Last month, Hankey Bannister 40-year-old was hailed by judges in annual awards for the industry as the world’s best blended Scotch.

IHD posted pre-tax profits of £7.4million for 2008, nearly double the £3.8million recorded a year earlier. Turnover slid to £51.5million in the latest period, against £57.8million in 2007.

IHD said the higher profits were the result of a favourable global market, investment in brands and the success of core operations across the whisky portfolio, adding that turnover was hit by a reduction in bulk trading with industry partners.

Underlying sales across the IHD drink portfolio rose 38% by value, the company said. Managing director Graham Stevenson said: “After the significant and positive growth recorded in 2007, we are extremely pleased to report another successful year for the business in 2008.

“Our challenge now is to sustain this in what will undoubtedly be a less favourable market in 2009 and beyond, and our focus is firmly on delivering the excellent strategies and operations required to do this.

“We are realistic about market conditions, but optimistic that we have the great people and the strong brands we need to deliver in the year ahead.”

IHD said it had been boosted by millions of pounds of investment by Hong Kong-based parent International Beverage Holdings (IBH), part of Thai drink giant ThaiBev. About £15million was earmarked last year for creating a hub for IBH’s global marketing operations, with further cash being invested in IHD’s whisky portfolio.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

19 May

Ian Macleod Distillers Launch Rare Single Malt - Chieftain's 40 Years Old Springbank

Independent bottlers and distillers, Ian Macleod Distillers, is to launch an extremely rare, limited edition Springbank 40 Years Old from its award-winning Chieftain’s Single Malt Whisky collection to the domestic market in the UK and worldwide.

Distilled in 1968 at the famous Springbank Distillery, Campbeltown, only 398 bottles of this exceptional natural strength, natural colour and unchill-filtered whisky are available. It is the last, oldest and the best Springbank cask available from the current Chieftain’s collection.

The hand-crafted presentation of the Chieftain’s Springbank 40 Years Old is a true reflection of the exceptional quality and rarity of this Single Malt. Sleek and masculine, the bottle rests in a silver leather lined, piano finished, solid oak box which has been stained black and lacquered 11 times, to enhance the natural wood grain. Two silver plaques on the front of the box display all the individual bottle details, as does the certificate of authenticity scroll, personally signed by Antony McCallum-Caron, Chieftain’s Rare Malt Manager.

A neck tag, hung on a silver chain, brings the Single Malt to life, with detailed tasting notes on this precious first fill sherry cask. A deep, rich gold colour, with a nose that hints of melon, ginger and light toffee, the palate is spicy, rich cedar wood mixed with herbal undertones and a long, powerful finish.

The limited edition release of 398 bottles will be available from July at an RRP of £1,000 domestically.

Since 1936, Ian Macleod Distillers, through its dedication to tradition and quality, has amassed an enviable cask stock from Scotland’s many distilleries. These award-winning whiskies range from classic 10 and 20 Year Olds to 50 Year Old vintages. The Chieftain’s collection’s hallmark is that each bottling must be fit for a King, a Leader or in the Celtic world, a Chieftain.

Iain Weir, Marketing Director at Ian Macleod Distillers commented: “Chieftain’s Springbank 40 Years Old is a truly rare and exceptional whisky which we are incredibly proud to include in our collection.

The combination of age and the limited release of 398 bottles mean this will be a real collector’s item, with its unparalleled quality making it a joy to drink.”

Established in 1933, Ian Macleod Distillers is one of the largest and most widely respected independent family companies within the spirits industry. The award winning Ian Macleod portfolio, which includes Glengoyne, King Robert II, Langs and Smokehead, as well as gin, rum, and vodka, currently has combined total sales of more than one million cases, with 85% being exported to over 65 markets worldwide.

For further information visit:

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

17 May

West whisky festival a success

Visitors from around the world and across Scotland sample best of Scotland's whisky and food at Spirit of the West festival

Whisky lovers from far and wide have been flocking to the banks of Loch Fyne this weekend for the first ever Spirit of the West festival.

The event at Inveraray Castle promotes Scotland's amber nectar produced in the west of Scotland's sixteen distilleries, together with the best of national food and culture.

The world famous Red Hot Chilli Pipers opened the show on Saturday.

Whisky generates £3billion of income for Scotland every year - and is purchased around the world. Visitors from as far afield as Japan and the USA flocked to the festival to sample what was on offer.

Whiskies on show ranged from old favourites such as Bowmore through to young pretenders like Kilchoman.

Nick Nairn, who was cooking in the food tent at the festival, said: "There is a natural affinity between produce live beef, venison and shellfish and whisky.

"If you use the right whisky in the right concentration they work brilliantly together."

Article Courtesy of STV



14 May

Whisky Galore turned into musical

It has been a book and a film, and now Whisky Galore has been turned into a musical being staged in Pitlochry.

In 1941, the SS Politician ran aground off Eriskay with about 250,000 bottles of the spirit aboard.

Author Compton MacKenzie used the event as the basis of his book Whisky Galore in 1947 and an Ealing comedy followed in 1949.

This will be the first time a musical has been staged by the Festival Theatre since it was founded in 1951.

Writer of the show, Shona McKee McNeil told BBC Scotland the idea came from a rather famous name in theatre.

'Talented musicians'

She said: "A colleague of ours was chatting to Cameron MacIntosh about another project and he said 'Why don't you look at the work of Compton MacKenzie and especially Whisky Galore?'

"We thought, 'Good idea', so that's where it actually came from.

"I went up to Barra to do some research and met some wonderful characters and then started writing."

Composer Ian Hammond Brown also visited the area and decided to mix traditional folk song with Big Band music of the 1940s.

"There's bagpipes in there, there's guitars, and all the cast are very talented musicians, so they're all playing various instruments throughout, as well as singing and dancing," he said.

Director Ken Alexander added: "It's probably the hardest thing I've ever had to cast because we've had to find a wholly Scottish cast who can't only act and move and dance to different levels but play lots of instruments as well, so that's been a real challenge for me."

The musical opens at the Festival Theatre on Friday.

If it is a success it is hoped theatres in London and Broadway will be interested in staging it.

Article Courtesy of BBCi



13 May

Whisky prospects look bright in new markets

Scotland’s whisky makers are in for a tough year but the industry’s longer-term prospects are bright, the sector’s leading spokesman said yesterday.

Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Paul Walsh said several markets were growing, particularly in new areas opened up in the past few years.

He added: “The discerning consumer is continuing to support Scotch and continues also to regard it as a premium and global drink that underlines his or her aspirations.

“I remain very confident about the future for Scotch whisky".

Mr Walsh was speaking at the SWA’s annual members’ day in Glasgow, attended by around 200 delegates from across the industry.

In his keynote address, Mr Walsh also touched on the industry's export performance, UK excise duty policy and proposals for minimum pricing in Scotland.

Figures out last week showed Scotch whisky exports soared by 8% in 2008, with annual sales worth more than £3billion.

Yesterday, Mr Walsh said: “The results are truly impressive. We remain by far and away the UK’s largest consumer-based export and – of vital importance for Scotland – our exports represent 20% of Scottish manufactured exports.”

Mr Walsh said increases in excise duty last year would have been greater without the SWA’s intervention.

Another 2% was added in last month’s Budget – the first of five projected rises of 2% above inflation through to 2013, which Mr Walsh said was “a very strange way” to treat such a vital industry.

He also reiterated the industry’s opposition to minimum pricing, which he said “would put at risk much of the good work the SWA has done over the last 15 years to dismantle the tax or tariff discrimination against us in overseas markets”.

Mr Walsh added: “A Scottish precedent in our home market would damage us immensely."

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

12 May

Whyte & Mackay donating to Snow Leopard Trust

One of Scotland's whisky makers have unveiled a partnership with the first conservation vodka.

Glasgow's Whyte & Mackay are donating 15 per cent from profits of Snow Leopard vodka to the Snow Leopard Trust.

Brand owner Stephen Sparrow hopes the deal will see 100,000 bottles sold a year, providing the trust with financial security.

Article Courtesy of Daily Record


Daily Record

11 May

Countdown to Scotland’s Dram-Atic Weekend in the West

Final preparations are being made for the much hyped Spirit of the West festival that takes place in Inveraray this weekend, a major event marking the midway point in Homecoming Scotland 2009’s Whisky Month programme.

The inaugural festival is expecting between 4000 and 6000 visitors across the weekend from as far as Australia, USA and Canada and as near as neighbouring towns of Oban and Dunoon. The event is set to be a global gathering that will celebrate Scotland’s west coast whisky, food and culture in the stunning grounds of Inveraray Castle.

Festival highlights include a bag-rocking opener from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers (Saturday), cooking with whisky demonstrations by celebrity chef Nick Nairn (Sunday), 16 world famous west coast whisky distilleries, an array of mouth watering local Argyll produce in the Food & Drink Marquee (sponsored by Scotland Food & Drink) and a huge cultural line up of outdoor theatre trails, music, dance, drama and family entertainment.

A whole range of whisky masterclasses, for over 18s, will also take place across the weekend, each run by whisky industry celebrities in their own right, including the entertaining Jim McEwan from Bruichladdich and the “New Kid on the Block”, Islay’s new Kilchoman Distillery.

The team behind Spirit of the West, The Whisky Coast, which is a collaboration of 16 whisky distilleries, 20 first class hotels and restaurants along the scenic west coast, marked their two year birthday last month and the festival is set to raise even more awareness of the region and the popularity of whisky tourism.

Nicky Murphy, Project Manager for The Whisky Coast and Event Manager for Spirit of the West said: “The west coast of Scotland is so dramatic and offers the most spectacular scenery. The region is incredibly rich in culture that is unavoidably absorbed when visiting. A taste of whisky goes a long way and this weekend we want to share with those who have a love for Scotland, whisky and all things west what lies behind every single malt – from its people to its food, its craftsmanship to its song.”

She added: “Preparations are going very well and building work has commenced in the castle grounds. We are looking forward to sharing our love for whisky culture in the west with people from all over.”

Join in the celebrations at Inveraray Castle on Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th May, 11am to 6pm daily and be part of Homecoming Scotland 2009’s whisky month. Visit for more information. Tickets are available to buy online at or by telephone on 0871 230 5580. Quote SOTWPROMO to claim 10% discount in advance. Tickets will be available to purchase on the gate.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

11 May

Hibs star Jonatan Johansson snaps up whisky baron's mansion for £1m

HIBS player Jonatan Johansson has become king of the castle - after buying a mansion built for a whisky baron.

The Finnish striker has splashed out £1million on the mock Tudor castle, which once belonged to James Whyte of Whyte and Mackay whisky fame.

Overlooking the village of Skelmorlie, Ayrshire, with stunning views of the Firth of Clyde, the home has been described as one of the finest in Scotland.

It has its own putting green and garage with room for six cars.

Villagers were expecting the castle to be snapped up by a wealthy businessman but were surprised when ex-Gers star Johansson, 33, moved in. One neighbour said: "Nobody really knew who it was when he moved in but then it clicked.

"Johansson must have made a fair amount of money during his playing career because houses like that don't come cheap."

The home, known as Tudor House, the castle lies in its own grounds in Skelmorlie's posh The Crescent.

The Category B listed house was built in 1909 and The Crescent was created as an exclusive enclave of 12 mansions that would attract the richest people of the age.

The house still bears the imprint of James Whyte in the etched JW above the living-room fireplace.

The 6500-sq-ft home has a reception hall, drawing room,sitting room, dining room, eat-in kitchen, utility room and larder.

There is also a tool room, servants' quarters, minstrels' gallery, two dressing rooms and three bathrooms, as well as five bedrooms.

The house was put up for sale last year at offers over £795,000.

Scottish Land Register records show Johansson is now the owner.

The striker joined Rangers for £500,000 in 1997 and moved to English side Charlton for £3.5million in 2000.

This season he signed for Hibs - whose sponsors are Whyte and Mackay.

Article Courtesy of Daily Record


Daily Record

09 May

Record year for whisky exports

Trade group says value of overseas sales tops £3bn for first time

Whisky exports soared to new heights in 2008, with annual sales worth more than £3billion, new industry figures have revealed.

Trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), whose members account for more than 95% of production and sales of Scotland’s national drink, said yesterday the record performance underlined the industry’s vital importance to both the Scottish and wider UK economies.

Last year’s total sales value of £3.06billion, or earnings of £97 per second, was up by 8% from 2007.

The SWA said Scottish bottled single malt and blended brands both saw 9% increases in sales by value, to £497million and £2.43billion respectively, the fourth consecutive year of growth in each case.

The remainder of total sales was accounted for by bulk quantities sent overseas for bottling.

The volume of exports was down by 5%, however, which the SWA said reflected the industry’s investment in promoting premium brands abroad.

It added: “Overall, the equivalent of 1,080million bottles of Scotch whisky were shipped overseas, the industry’s second best . . . volume performance.”

Difficult economic conditions affected the industry throughout 2008 but particularly in the final three months, the association said, adding: “A challenging 2009 is predicted due to weaker consumer confidence and some stock adjustments in a range of markets as a result of the economic downturn.”

SWA chairman Paul Walsh said: “Scotch whisky exports have proved to be resilient in the face of difficult economic conditions in a range of markets.

“To achieve record export value at such a time is quite an achievement and underscores just how important the industry is to the UK.

“Whisky will play a leading role in exporting the economy out of recession.”

Gavin Hewitt, the association’s chief executive, said whisky-makers were optimistic about the long-term international outlook despite the challenging market conditions.

He added: “Our prospects are also shaped by the actions taken by government. At a time of recession, we look to government to work with us and to show its support for the Scotch whisky industry at home and overseas.”

The biggest area for sales growth by value last year was Australasia, up 30% to £68million.

Sales to Europe, Africa and Asia grew by 17%, 10% and 5% respectively.

Central/South America and North America saw declines of 2% and 6% respectively, which the SWA said was mainly the result of – in the first case – a drop in shipments to Venezuela and to US consumer confidence taking a slump in the economic downturn.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

06 May

That’s The Spirit! Society Opens Doors

A Mecca for whisky enthusiasts, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is giving dram lovers a rare chance to sample some of the world’s finest single cask, single malt whiskies this weekend, as it opens its doors to non-members.

The Society's unrivalled selection of limited edition, single cask malt bottlings are usually only available to lucky members. The Society will uncork its famous bottles this Saturday (9 May 2009) to non-members, as part of an exclusive opportunity to taste some of the finest malt whiskies found anywhere in the world.

As part of Homecoming Scotland’s Whisky Month, the exciting adventure takes place at the home of the Society, the18th century Vaults at 87 Giles Street, Leith, Edinburgh. The evening will explore five fantastic single cask whiskies in five surprising ways.

A Society Ambassador will start the night with a guide on how to appreciate single cask whisky, followed by a superb two-course supper and a dash of Burns thrown in for good measure.

Meanwhile, to celebrate Homecoming Scotland, the Society is offering a complimentary bottle of single cask, single malt whisky up to the value of £50. Only available on the Society website at -

To book your ticket call the Society on 0131 555 2929 (Mon-Fri 9am-4.45pm) or visit the website at shop/whisky-tastings. Please note: you will need to be a member to book online.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

06 May

Kilchoman Distillery to Auction a Piece of History from Whisky Cask No.1

With its very first single malt being launched on 9th September this year, Kilchoman Distillery on the western isle of Islay is giving water of life connoisseurs an opportunity of a whisky lifetime.

On the 28th May, Kilchoman Distillery will auction one bottle of the three year old malt out of the very first cask that was filled in December 2005. The limited edition bottle will have a unique design and will be the only one of its kind. It is set to be a dream come true for whisky collectors and fans of Kilchoman.

The auction takes place at Kilchoman Distillery’s Open Day on Thursday 28th May at 12.30pm, during Feis Ile, the Islay Festival of Malt & Music. All proceeds of the auction will go to local Islay charities.

Anthony Wills, Founder & Managing Director of Kilchoman Distillery said: “We are looking forward to welcoming people from all over the world through the doors of Kilchoman Distillery during the festival. We have a very exciting year ahead, making history in the whisky industry and across the world.”

He added: “We are delighted to auction the limited edition bottle of our very first single malt to one lucky person. It is an excellent opportunity to take home a piece of Kilchoman History and we hope it will raise a considerable amount of money for local charities.”

The much anticipated single malt has been getting seals of approval from a very young age. The one month old Kilchoman spirit has received a remarkable score of 94 out of 100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2008, rating it as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live!” In April 2009, the two year old spirit sold out on the first day of the Limburg Whisky Fair in Germany.

Kilchoman Distillery prides itself in taking whisky back to its roots and is the first distillery to be built on Islay for 124 years. A visit to Kilchoman Distillery gives everyone the opportunity to see all that is best in the grass-roots traditions of malt whisky distilling – from barley to bottle. The distillery location, Rockside Farm is said to grow the best malting barley on the island.

Kilchoman Distillery is accepting telephone and email bids 30 minutes prior to the auction. Please telephone 01496 850011 or email For more information on Kilchoman Distillery, announcements and events please visit

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

06 May

Islay festival 2009 – Diageo special single malt whisky bottlings announced

To celebrate this year’s Islay Festival of Malt & Music on 23-30 May, Diageo is once again making available two special Festival editions of its Islay Single Malt Scotch Whiskies. These very limited editions will be available only to personal shoppers, with a limit of one bottle per person.

The first-ever single cask bottling of Caol Ila™ by the Distillers is drawn from a European oak ex-sherry cask filled in December 1996, which has provided just 654 70cl bottles of 12 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky. The cask was hand-selected by Caol Ila distillery’s long-established manager, Billy Stitchell.

From Lagavulin™ comes a 14 year old expression of this famous Single Malt, from a European oak cask filled in 1995, and hand-picked from Warehouse No. 1 by Iain McArthur, long-standing warehouseman at Lagavulin distillery. This edition consists of 660 bottles.

Both editions are bottled at natural cask strength, and will be on sale at £69.99.

Nick Morgan, Diageo’s Scotch Knowledge and Heritage Director, said: “The Lagavulin single cask edition for the Feis Ile has been a great success in previous years, and we hope this one will bring just as much pleasure to Festival visitors. The Caol Ila bottling is a first for us: I’m sure devotees of this Whisky will find it an interesting and satisfying dram. Both are genuine bottlings made specifically for this year’s Festival and are priced very fairly, we think, to meet the pockets of the hard-pressed Whisky enthusiasts who may have travelled a very long way, and at considerable expense, on their pilgrimages to Islay".

The Lagavulin Festival Edition will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis at Lagavulin distillery during their open day on Saturday 23 May. The Caol Ila Festival Edition will go on sale at Caol Ila distillery during their open day on Monday 25 May.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

05 May

Kazakhstan opening up for Benriach

In the early part of this year, 500 cases of top-end malt whisky were shipped from Morayshire in Scotland to remote Kazakhstan.

It’s an exporting coup for the Larbert-based BenRiach Distillery Company.

Formerly part of USSR but now independent, Kazakhstan is one of the new but unexpected export markets identified by BenRiach that's ripe for development.

The republic, the most economically advanced of the "stans", is in Central Asia, to the south of Russia and extending east from the Caspian Sea to the Altai mountains.

It’s largely known, not for whisky consumption, but for launching rockets, its oil and the antics of the pseudo-Kazakh Borat Sagdiyev created by Sacha Baron Cohen.

In the new consignment, worth some £60,000, are malts ranging from twelve to forty years.

Billy Walker, the industry veteran and MD of The BenRiach Distillery Company, explained: “Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth-biggest country, appeared on our radar because it’s a commodity-rich country with a secular government and a population of some twenty million amongst whom is a significant percentage of wealthy citizens.

"They’re interested in both the standard range and our de-luxe items. In addition, it acts as a distribution hub for its neighbours Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kurgyzstan and Tajikistan.

“Parts of the country have an almost European feel with smart hotels, chic boutiques and lots of BMWs and Mercedes.

“We’ve found there’s a strong but relatively unstructured independent retail presence. Wholesale is developing, mainly in Almaty and Astana, and we have an excellent importer in MPCC Aldi Ltda – incidentally there’s no relationship with the supermarket of the same name.”

The first order was for 500 cases and three months ago BenRiach arranged a formal launch of its offerings in the old capital Almaty.

“They liked the first batch so much they wanted more,” said Billy. “When you consider the growing number of clubs and restaurants and both young and old people with increasing disposable income you start to see the potential and why it and other former Soviet states become very interesting territories for us.”

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

04 May

SNP: Murphy failed to intervene over whisky tax hikes crisis

The crisis over the duty hike for whisky last year brought no action or intervention from Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, said the SNP last night.

Citing Freedom of Information requests to the Scotland Office, SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson said Mr Murphy's inaction at a time of crisis for a major Scottish industry destroyed the myth of him as a "hyper-energetic" Scottish Secretary.

"Last year saw two duty increases on whisky by the government, meaning they planned a 17% rise in a single year, one of the largest such hikes in history," said Mr Robertson. "This correspondence shows that the Scotland Office was not involved in the run-up to the highest increase in duty every planned." advertisement

The first 9% rise last March caused the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) "extreme dismay" and they called it "punitive" and likely to set a damaging precedent for the export market. The second planned rise of 8% in the autumn was swiftly reduced to 4%.

The SNP asked the Scotland Office for details of all meetings that took place in the run-up to that second hike with either the Treasury or the SWA, but the FoI request was rebuffed as being against the public interest.

A follow-up request was made simply asking whether any such meetings had taken place. The reply stated that there was no record of any meeting with industry representatives.

Mr Robertson said: "We are told that the Scotland Office performs a vital function within Whitehall in standing up for Scottish interests and liaising with other Whitehall departments. We also have a hyper-energetic Secretary of State for Scotland with a high regard for his own ability.

"This is the first really concrete example of the gap between the rhetoric and the PR with the reality of what the Scotland Office or the Secretary of State actually do, especially with their burgeoning workforce and budget."

A spokesman for Mr Murphy's department accused the SNP of "any number of distortions," adding: "Since October the Secretary of State has played a key role in a wide variety of issues, from trade and the economy to international relations and many other areas. Both he and the Scotland Office work hard for Scotland and manufactured sideswipes such as this reflect more on others than the minister."

Article Courtesy of The Herald


The Herald

01 May

International Beverage scoop three international Whisky Awards

Hankey Bannister and Drummer Blended Whiskies, both part of International Beverage’s portfolio, have won three awards this month from two separate international organisations.

Hankey Bannister Original Blend has been awarded a Grand Gold Medal and Drummer Scotch whisky a Gold in the Monde Selection Awards, the International Institute for Quality Selections.

The Monde Selection is the oldest organisation in the field of Quality Selections in the world and assesses over 1500 products per year judged by a panel of experts, working to the same specific criteria and well-defined tasting grid that they created when they were established in 1961.

At the same time Hankey Bannister 40 year old was named the world’s ‘Best Blended Malt’ for the second year running in the World Whisky Awards which were held in London this week. The award is judged by a panel of international journalists, industry representatives and retailers who decide on the World’s Best Single Malt Whisky, Blended Whisky, Blended Malt Whisky, Grain Whisky, American Whiskey and Whisky Liquer.

Whisky Magazine’s Dominic Roskrow commented: “Know someone who believes that blends can never be as good as single malt? Give them a taste of this. A work of art and a delightful mix of age and beauty.”

Brand Manager at International Beverage, Cathy James said: “We are really excited about these awards as they are testimony to the quality of our blended whiskies. Each of them is judged by a panel of high-profile experts from around the world and this shows International Beverage’s passion and commitment to producing whisky has been recognised.”

The Hankey Bannister brand dates back to 1757 when Messrs Hankey and Bannister formed the successful partnership that created a smooth and complex blend of premium scotch whiskies which was awarded royal warrants under King George V and Edward VII. Today Hankey Bannister continues to charm an ever-growing number of consumers with their portfolio of an Original blend and 12 year old, 21 year old and 40 year old blended malt Scotch whisky, distilled at some of Scotland’s finest distilleries.

Drummer blended Scotch whisky originates from the Balmenach distillery which was founded in 1824, in Speyside. The distillery stands proudly on the historical soil where Jacobite forces and the British Army fought against each other in the fateful Battle of Cromdale in 1690. This unique Scotch smoothly combines the weight and heritage of centuries of whisky expertise with the lightness of touch of modern blending techniques. The result is a superbly balanced blend with a hint of peat, providing a sweet, smoky and spicy finish. Today the blend is enjoyed by younger consumers who are looking for a quality, modern blend.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release
April 2009 Scotch Whisky News

30 Apr

In whisky, 18 is the new 15 at Laphroaig

Maxxium is replacing its Islay malt whisky brand Laphroaig 15 Year Old with a super-premium variant.

Laphroaig 18 Year Old is positioned as a rarer Scotch than its predecessor and will target malt connoisseurs and collectors.

"Having aged for an extra three years, it is bottled at a higher strength - 48% abv compared with 43%," said senior brand manager Bob Darymple.

Laphroaig 18 Year Old will be rolled out to selected independents from early May, rsp £49.99 for 70cl compared with £39.99 for the 15 Year Old.

Article Courtesy of The Grocer


The Grocer

30 Apr

Spirits set to flow for Moray drinks festival

Ten-day event will see 250,000 nips consumed

ROLL OUT THE BARREL: Glen Moray Distillery manager Graham Coull inspects a 10-year-old malt.

MORE than 250,000 nips of whisky are expected to be served up in Moray at a festival celebrating the national drink.

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival – now in its 10th year – will run for 10 days from Friday.

Politicians joined industry figures last night in welcoming the event as an economic boost during difficult times.

The festival programme contains almost 400 events, including tasting sessions, distillery tours, walks and music nights.

Organisers said visitors from Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the US have snapped up tickets. About 23,000 people are expected to attend.

Speyside Glenlivet councillor Fiona Murdoch, who used to run a whisky shop at Dufftown and helped establish the festival, said it was great to see how it had developed over a decade.

The festival will wind up with an outdoor concert on Saturday, May 9, on the banks of the River Spey at Aberlour. There will be performances from Scottish favourites Capercaillie, pipe bands and fiddlers.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

30 Apr

Glenlivet’s spirited past

At one time, more than 200 illegal stills were operating in the hills around Glenlivet, making it a hotbed for smugglers, writes Susan Welsh. Visitors now have the chance to follow in the footsteps of the whisky smugglers and can explore the untamed beauty of the area

TOMORROW, visitors will descend on Speyside to appreciate the history, sights, sound and flavours of the 10th annual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

While sampling the amber nectar may appeal to adults, there are plenty of events taking place which will appeal to all ages, including the chance to retrace the steps of the legendary smugglers who first distilled whisky.

The Glenlivet Distillery and The Crown Estate teamed up to launch three historic walks giving visitors a flavour of the area’s illicit whisky smuggling past.

The launch of The Glenlivet Smugglers’ Trails is the second phase in a journey to rediscover the heritage of Scotch whisky and that of its most famous glen and follows on from last year’s historic licensing of the first illicit “sma’ still” in Glenlivet for nearly 180 years.

The whisky produced by the illicit distillers of Glenlivet became the most sought after in the land and was renowned throughout for its fruity, sweet “pineapple” taste and gentleness.

Now, walkers can follow in the footsteps of famous smugglers like the legendary Robbie MacPherson, who distilled whisky in the remote climate and terrain of Glenlivet away from the prying eyes of excisemen, before smuggling it out of the glen.

Robbie and his fellow Glenrinnes distillers would smuggle the spirit they had made in winter to ports such as Banff and Buckie during the summer months in well-organised convoys, with whisky hidden among legitimate goods such as sacks of barley and bales of wool.

But Robbie was not alone and at one time there were more than 200 illicit stills operating in the glen due to economic hardship and a series of whisky taxes imposed by the British Government.

There are three walks available in the Glenlivet valley of varying length, from a family walk to a one-day hike: The 6km George Smith Smugglers Trail; the 11km Robbie MacPherson Smugglers Trail, or the 10.5km Malcolm Gillespie Smugglers Trail. See below for further details.

Each trail is clearly signposted and has its own accompanying leaflet available from the visitor centre at the distillery to bring its history to life.

Alan Winchester, Chivas Brothers malt distilleries manager, said: “We are delighted with The Glenlivet Smugglers’ Trails and we are keen to encourage visitors to try out the walks to get a taste of The Glenlivet’s smuggling history and enjoy the fantastic scenery.

“These newly created trails enable visitors to Glenlivet to experience how whisky was transported by the illicit distillers of old.”

“The smuggling community made a huge impact on Scottish single malt whisky production and we have learned a lot from their original methods of distillation.

“To this day, The Glenlivet retains the fruity, pineapple notes and distinctive softness first associated with illegal Glenlivet spirit of the 19th century.”

Such was the quality and reputation of the Glenlivet spirit that during a visit to Scotland in 1822, King George IV requested a dram of the illegal Glenlivet and then is reported to have said he would drink nothing else from then on.

Among those suspected to have used the trails to smuggle illicit whisky out of Glenlivet was George Smith, a tenant farmer on what was then the Duke of Gordon’s estate.

When, in 1823, a new Excise Act enabled small distillers to operate legally, George Smith was granted the first licence for Glenlivet.

Determined to improve on the already acclaimed whisky of the “sma’ stills”, he founded the Glenlivet Distillery and created his original single malt.

Andrew Wells, Countryside and Forestry Manager for The Crown Estate said: “The Glenlivet Estate has a fascinating history, much of which is associated with its past connection to illicit whisky distilling.

“This history, combined with a picturesque landscape of wide open spaces and rolling hills, make it a truly memorable place to visit.

“The Crown Estate has made a considerable investment by providing footpaths and trails to help visitors explore and enjoy the Glenlivet countryside.

“This project has added to the already extensive network of walking trails and we look forward to welcoming more visitors who wish to experience not only the whisky, but also to learn more about the people and places that make the area so popular.”

The Smugglers’ Trails are the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful remote scenery and the great outdoors and during the Speyside Whisky Festival. For further details visit: and


George Smith Smugglers’ Trail

Following the River Livet to Drumin Castle

Distance: 6km

Route: Easy walking

Starting at The Glenlivet Distillery, the trail follows the River Livet to the remains of Drumin Castle, built in the 14th century by the Earl of Buchan, the notorious Wolf of Badenoch.

The route also passes the former home of George Smith, whose knowledge of the glen and its natural whisky-making resources was unrivalled.

Malcolm Gillespie Smugglers’ Trail

Starting at East Auchavaich car park and circuiting the Braes of Glenlivet

Distance: 10.5km

Route: For serious walkers only

The Braes of Glenlivet embrace the wildest and most isolated parts of the glen. The trail from East Auchavaich passes through a ruggedly beautiful landscape, habitat to red and roe deer, the mountain hare, curlew, snipe, red and black grouse, among others.

Robbie MacPherson Smugglers’ Trail

Leading to Carn Daimh via the old Glenlivet distillery

Distance: 11km

Route: Challenging in places

The trail from The Glenlivet Distillery leads past the natural underground spring of Josie’s Well, out of which bubbles hourly 3,500 gallons of priceless, pure, ice-cold water for making the whisky.

The route continues to the site of George Smith’s original distillery in Upper Drumin, before taking in Carn Daimh (summit 570m) and the 16th-century Blairfindy Castle.

On Saturday, May 2, there is a chance to follow in the footsteps of Robbie, with a walk led by Alan Winchester, distilling manager for malt and grain whisky at Chivas Brothers, and Cameron McNeish, author and broadcaster.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

28 Apr

Famous ‘Whisky bars of Glasgow’ celebrated in new tourism initiative

Six famous ‘Whisky Bars of Glasgow’ have joined together in a new collaboration to attract visitors to Glasgow and promote their high quality whisky experience to tourists. Launched today, the scheme – created under the auspices of ScotlandWhisky, the national Whisky tourism initiative – follows the successful launch of a similar program in Edinburgh last year.

The scheme is being supported by a free ‘Whisky Bars of Glasgow’ map and a more in-depth website (

Chris Conway, of ScotlandWhisky, said “Glasgow has a long and proud association with the Scotch Whisky industry and is world famous for its hospitality. So it’s only right that through the ‘Whisky Bars of Glasgow’, six renowned bars have joined together to highlight that connection.”

“We know pubs and bars are an important part of many visitors’ experience of Scotland, as is the wish to try Scotch Whisky in its home country. ‘Whisky Bars of Glasgow’ will ensure that visitors know where they can be ensured a great bar and whisky experience.”

Conway went on to say “With Homecoming Scotland’s Whisky Month beginning in May, this is the perfect time to launch the scheme and to build on the growing interest in whisky tourism. ”

Scotlandwhisky is looking to develop similar programmes in other parts of Scotlandwhisky.

Article Courtesy of Allmedia Scotland


Allmedia Scotland

28 Apr

Club bowled over by PM’s whisky gift

BRIDGE of Earn Bowling Club celebrated its 150th anniversary recently with a wee dram courtesy of Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The whisky from Downing Street, as well as a bottle from First Minister Alex Salmond, was snapped-up by eager bowers and specially-invited guests as part of a charity raffle which raised £200 for Brain Tumour UK.

Around 50 of the club’s members gathered on the village green on Saturday (April 18) to celebrate the landmark milestone.

Former president Eddie Nicholson, who also received a letter from Buckingham Palace in recognition of their achievements, said the club – which initially leased the land from Sir Thomas Moncrieffe – are currently riding the crest of a wave.

He told the PA: “Everybody at the club is very proud. There’s not many bowling clubs who can say they’ve been given something from Gordon Brown, Alex Salmond and the Queen in one weekend – that’s quite a hat-trick!

“It was great to have Peregrine Moncrieffe there too. He’s distantly related to Sir Thomas, the man who helped form the club by letting us have the land, so it was nice to have some form of family link there during the ceremonies.

“And we’re got our Scottish Prestige games coming up – which will mean a whole host of top executives from various associations coming to Bridge of Earn to play.

“It’s definitely not a time for us to sit back and relax,” he said.

Article Courtesy of Perthshire Advertiser


Perthshire Advertiser

23 Apr

Whisky industry 'is being treated as cash cow'

Scotch whisky distillers reacted angrily to the Budget, complaining that the spirits duty increase of 2 per cent, or about 14p a bottle, was a serious blow to the industry at the worst possible time.

Gavin Hewitt, the Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “A duty increase during a recession is a real blow and follows last year's duty rises on Scotch, the largest since the 1970s.”

He said that the industry faced an alcohol duty escalator, much as the transport industry was hit by a fuel duty escalator, before protests forced the Government to abandon it. “As this represents a 5 per cent increase in real terms, the Treasury is likely to see lower receipts as the duty rise aggravates already tough market conditions in the UK, the industry's third-largest market, and weak consumer confidence,” he added.

Angus Robertson, the SNP Westminster leader, whose Moray constituency produces more than half of all Scotch malt whisky, said: “Yet again the UK Government is treating the whisky industry as a cash cow. Only last year Labour ministers announced a record 17 per cent duty hikes, and now the pain continues.

“The whisky sector is one of the country's key industries and it is a disgrace that the Treasury is treating it so badly.”

Michael Urquhart, joint managing director of Gordon & McPhail, a 115-year old firm that owns the smallest distillery on Speyside - Benromach at Forres - and employs 130 people, said: “It's disappointing. After a 13.5 per cent increase in 2008, this extra 2 per cent is a body blow.

“Really, we feel that the Government should be supporting UK industry, especially exporters, who have the potential to drive the economy out of recession.”

He acknowledged that despite the 2008 duty increase, the year is expected to show a record value of exports, easily beating the £2.8 billion in 2007. This week, his firm, which markets a range of luxury whiskies under the “Connoisseur's Choice” label, won a Queen's Award for increasing exports by 94 per cent over the last four years.

Despite the increase in exports, Mr Urquhart said: “If the Government keeps hitting you on the head year after year with higher duty rates, you feel that you are swimming against the tide.”

What particularly worries distillers is that foreign governments, many of whom are protectionist towards their domestic spirits industries, will use UK duty rises as justification for adding extra customs duties to imported whiskies, making them less competitive in valuable export markets.

Mr Urquhart also said that if the recession and tax increases caused consumers to switch to cheaper brands, it will be difficult to win them back to the more expensive malt whiskies which is where most distillers make their biggest profits.

Some whisky distributors are reporting that sales of the most expensive whiskies retailing at £24 a bottle and above have either stalled or are falling, while makers of cheaper blends selling for £12 to £13 a bottle report rising sales.

Scotland has 106 Scotch whisky distilleries, employing 9,200 people in distilling, bottling and packaging.

About 65,000 jobs across the UK are reckoned to be supported by whisky-making. In 2007, 94.6 million, 12-bottle cases were exported from the UK, with a value of £2.8 billion.

Excise duty and VAT make up about 77 per cent of the price of a £12.50 bottle.

The top export market is America, followed by Spain and France, where whisky outsells cognac by a factor of twelve to one.

Article Courtesy of The Times


The Times

22 Apr

Whisky trade under threat

One of the country's most valuable export industries, Scotch whisky, has said the 2% rise in spirits duty will damage trade further.

Following duty rises of over 13.5% in 2008, The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) described the duty rise as ‘a blow to the industry that comes at the worst possible time’. The Budget will add 14p to the price of a bottle of Scotch whisky.

Chief executive Gavin Hewitt said: “A duty increase during a recession is a real blow and follows last year’s duty rises on Scotch, the largest since the 1970s. The Government should be supporting all UK businesses, including Scotch Whisky distillers, who have the potential to help drive the economy out of recession. Instead, our industry is being weakened by the alcohol duty escalator.

“At a time when the Chancellor is looking for additional revenue, we believe that an increase in excise duty will be counterproductive. As this represents a 5% increase in real terms, the Treasury is likely to see lower receipts as the duty rise aggravates already tough market conditions in the UK, the industry’s third largest market, and weak consumer confidence. The duty rise also sets an unwelcome precedent for other governments around the world who are also seeking to raise revenues.”

With the Chancellor estimating that the Retail Price Index (RPI) will be -3% in September 2009, today’s duty rise is an increase of 5% in real terms. Scotch whisky is one of the country's top five earning export industries.

Article Courtesy of Harpers



22 Apr

The Glenrothes distillery opens its doors to the public

The Glenrothes distillery in Speyside will be opening its doors to the public on Friday 8 May, offering a rare opportunity to discover the secrets of the award winning single malt.

Established in 1879, The Glenrothes has historically been closed to the public. As part of the Speyside Festival celebrations, the distillery will be running two exclusive tours of the distillery in Rothes.

Guided by Brand Ambassador Ronnie Cox and Speyside born Eric Jefferson, visitors will be taken on a tour of the distillery as well as the working cooperage on site. The tour will end with a complimentary tasting of The Glenrothes Select Reserve.

Ronnie Cox, Brand Ambassador, The Glenrothes, commented: “I’m very much looking forward to welcoming visitors into our distillery and sharing some of the secrets of our very special single malt. Places are strictly limited so I do recommend that anyone interested books a place in advance.”

The Glenrothes Select Reserve is a non-Vintage specific selection carefully chosen by Malt Master John Ramsay and typifies the distillery house character of ripe fruits, citrus, vanilla and hints of spice. The Glenrothes is also available in a limited range of Vintages. Rare and finite, Vintages are selected on their own unique personality and include Vintages 1978, 1985, 1991 and 1994.

Tours will take place on Friday 8 May at 9.30am and 10.30am and are free of charge. To book a place please contact Pamela Wils or Sarah Bailey at The BIG Partnership on 0131 555 5522.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

21 Apr

Scotch whisky festival marks 10th anniversary

Aberlour, Scotland - The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in north-east Scotland is marking its 10th anniversary this year with an expanded programme, Ros Lewis, the festival's coordinator, said in Aberlour. She noted that the festival, from May 1-10, would be twice as long as usual. Its approximately 350 whisky-inspired events will range from whisky workshops and art exhibitions to cooking shows with the theme "whisky and food."

Among the participants will be 35 distilleries in Speyside, a region between Inverness and Aberdeen that is considered Scotland's "malt whisky country."

The programme includes 180 whisky tours and tastings. Whisky connoisseurs can look forward to "vertical tastings" comparing malt whiskys from the decades between the 1940s and the present.

There will also be visits to distilleries seldom open the public, for example Benrinnes and Mortlach, Lewis said.

A further attraction will be tours reliving the trails of whisky smugglers who, in earlier centuries, brought the coveted national drink out of the Scottish Highlands to places where its distillation was more difficult. Lewis said there would be ceilidhs, too: traditional Scottish parties with Scotch whisky, dancing and Gaelic music.

Article Courtesy of Earth Times


Earth Times

20 Apr

Laphroaig launches 18 Year Old

A new 18 Year Old expression of Laphroaig is being launched by Maxxium UK, replacing the existing 15 Year Old product.

The 48% abv malt whisky will have a recommended retail price of £49.99, with limited availability.

Maxxium UK describes the whisky as "bright gold in colour" with a "soft, toffee sweetness to the nose and the trademark Laphroaig peat smoke to the taste".

Senior brand manager Bob Dalrymple said: “We expect demand for this rare addition to the Laphroaig range to be high among malt connoisseurs and collectors.

"Having been aged for an extra three years, it is being bottled at a higher strength of 48% abv enabling us to avoid the chill filtering process.

"The result is a truly fantastic single malt whisky and we are eagerly awaiting feedback from Laphroaig’s loyal consumer base who love the brand for its rich peaty taste.”

Only 65 bottles of the 15 Year Old remain, and distillery manager John Campbell is reserving them for the Friends of Laphroaig on a first come, first serve basis.

Article Courtesy of Offlicence News


Offlicence News

18 Apr

Angus whisky price hit by super-inflation

Single malt from Lochside Distillery predicted to fetch £120 at auction

A BOTTLE of whisky distilled in Angus is predicted to fetch up to £120 when it appears for auction today.

The bottle of 10-year-old single malt produced by the Lochside Distillery at Montrose sold for around £7.99 when it first appeared in the early 1980s.

It will be sold at Taylor’s Auction Rooms at Montrose, part of a collection of whisky, wine and port ranging from the vintage to the more recent.

The distillery stopped work in the late 1980s and was eventually demolished in 1999.

Since then, the product has become increasingly popular with collectors and its appeal has been enhanced by the fact that it will be sold in its original box.

Other famous distilleries featured in the sale include The Macallan, Springbank and Ladyburn. The Macallan offerings include a 30-year-old single malt and an 1861 replica single malt.

Today’s sale will also feature a range of 20th-century toys including trains by Hornby and Bing and road vehicles by Dinky, Corgi and Scalextric.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

17 Apr

High visitors numbers give Glengoyne a cracking good Easter

Scotland’s most beautiful distillery, Glengoyne, experienced a massive upsurge in tourists this Easter week, reporting the best visitor figures over the spring holiday in the distillery’s 175 year history.

Eager to learn about Glengoyne’s ‘Real Taste of Malt’, several hundred holidaymakers, the majority from England and northern Europe, visited the distillery during the Easter break – more than the last two years’ Easter weeks combined.

Stuart Hendry, Glengoyne’s Brand and Development Manager commented: “Over the last few months we’ve enjoyed an steady increase in visitors to Glengoyne, but the number of folk that came during the Easter week really took us by surprise, with several hundred curious holidaymakers enjoying tours, tastings and blending sessions.

On Easter Sunday, staff arrived in the morning to find several dozen people waiting for them to open the distillery.”

Glengoyne’s popularity as a tourist destination reflects a growing trend which has seen visitor numbers to whisky distilleries progressively increasing year on year. Figures released by ScotlandWhisky last month revealed that over 1.2 million visitors toured a distillery in 2008. This led to an increased spend of 12.2% on the previous year and given the Scottish economy a much needed £25 million boost.

Stuart Hendry continued: “We’ve been quietly confident that we would see a rise in UK visitors holidaying at home this year, as well as Europeans enjoying comparatively cheap Sterling. It is still very early in the season, but it is encouraging to see record numbers here enjoying our national product.

Glengoyne is one of Scotland’s most accessible distilleries, located just 30 minutes north of Glasgow and looking out over the breath-taking West Highland Way. Glengoyne Distillery offers an unrivalled visitor experience and wide menu of tours and tastings. One of the most popular tours, the Master Blender Session, even gives visitors the opportunity to have a go blending their own whisky to take home with the in the state-of -the-art Glengoyne Blending Room for just £30.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

16 Apr

Pernod may dispose of whisky brands

Drink giant looking to repay debt taken on to acquire Absolut vodka maker

French drink giant Pernod Ricard could sell off some of its whisky brands, but not its three key labels, it emerged yesterday.

Chief executive Pierre Pringuet said Pernod planned to dispose of “important but not indispensable” brands within its drink portfolio plus other assets such as property.

Last week, the Paris-based group said it was selling Wild Turkey Kentucky bourbon to Campari for about £380million.

Pernod is offloading products which are not among its 15 strategic brands as parts of efforts to repay debt taken on last year to buy Absolut vodka maker Vin and Sprit.

Whisky brands Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet and Ballantine’s are all among the 15, so are not in any danger of being sold.

But Pernod’s complete portfolio also includes blended whiskies Royal Salute, Clan Campbell, Something Special, Passport, 100 Pipers, Imperial and Long John, as well as the Aberlour, Glendronach, Strathisla, Longmorn, Scapa and Tormore single malts.

Pernod Ricard spokesman Francisco de la Vega said the disposal of whisky brands other than those among the strategic brands could not be ruled out.

He was speaking after the company launched a £900million-plus rights issue to help it to slash debt and planned for a swift improvement in sales following a third-quarter slump.

Shareholders will be able to buy three new shares for every 17 held at a price of £23.50 each, a 36% discount to the closing price on April 14.

Pernod, the world's second-largest spirit group after UK giant Diageo, is saddled with net debt of more than £10.6billion.

It blamed a 12% year-on-year drop in like-for-like sales during the three months to March 31 on buyers slimming down stocks, particularly in big markets such as America and Russia.

Mr Pringuet said trading in the past few months was well below the global trend in spirit consumption during the first three months of 2009, which he described as “flat to slightly down", adding: “We believe our sales for the current quarter will be more in line with consumer demand.”

Mr Pringuet estimated global consumption in bars and restaurants had slumped by 10-15% in the first quarter and said duty-free sales had also fallen as a result of a worldwide downturn in air travel.

The Pernod CEO estimated that global consumer retail sales had risen by about 2% as more people were drinking at home amid the economic depression. Figures for the nine months to the end of March showed that net sales of The Glenlivet were up by 7% from a year earlier, while net sales of Chivas Regal and Ballantine’s had declined by 1% and 4% respectively.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

15 Apr

Improving access to Malt Whisky Trail

Aberdeen firm to re-design website

ABERDEEN-BASED AVC Media Enterprises said yesterday it had won a five-figure contract for website re-design, creation and programming for Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail.

Stewart Buchanan, design and creative-development director for AVC, said: “One of AVC’s strengths is our ability to combine highly intricate 3D animation and engineering together with an innovative social-networking system and simple site navigation in a new and exciting way.

“Our brief was to raise the awareness of the various partners and whisky brands as part of the Malt Whisky Trail to encourage people to visit the Speyside area.

“A key part of this is the beautiful scenery in which the trail lies, which is why we decided to create 3D visualisations of the surrounding mountains and lochs using digital mapping to give an accurate graphical fly-through before focusing on specific world-famous brand distilleries.

“We also wanted to build and maintain communication between partners of the Malt Whisky Trail, allowing information sharing.”

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

11 Apr

Chinese talks to protect status of Scotch encouraging – whisky boss

Delighted delegation expects ‘rapid progress’ to deter fake product

Scotch Whisky Association boss Gavin Hewitt said yesterday he was “greatly encouraged” by talks in China over the legal status of Scotch whisky.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) wants the Chinese Government to ensure that all products labelled as being Scotch whisky actually do come from Scotland.

It applied for Geographical Indication of Origin status in 2007, and since then it has investigated some 200 fake products in China.

SWA chief executive Mr Hewitt was part of a delegation which yesterday urged Chinese Government minister Wang Yong to act swiftly.

The Scottish contingent also included First Minister Alex Salmond and Scottish Enterprise chief executive Jack Perry. They were joined by Sir William Ehrman, the UK ambassador to China.

After the meeting, the delegation said it expected rapid progress on better legal protection for Scotch in China, and positive developments in other areas discussed.

Mr Hewitt said: “We were encouraged by Mr Wang’s positive response. I believe we can now look forward to achieving Geographical Indication of Origin for Scotch Whisky in China soon.”

Mr Salmond said: “This is a vital issue for the Scotch whisky industry. We had an excellent meeting with the minister and I am confident we can now look forward to rapid progress.

“The opportunity for Scotch whisky exports to China is enormous, given its premium status and increases in disposable income among many millions of Chinese citizens. Securing better legal protection will establish a solid platform for growth.”

China is the 15th largest market for Scotch whisky worldwide. It was worth around £42million to the Scottish economy in 2007.

Chivas Regal – whose home is at Keith – is among the top-selling brands in China, where sales of Scotch have been boosted by a fad for drinking it with green tea.

Ironically, Chivas found itself at the centre of a dispute over the authenticity of its exports to China just over two years ago. Owner Chivas Brothers and French parent Pernod Ricard forced an apology from a Shanghai newspaper for tarnishing the name of their 12-year-old Chivas Regal premium blend. It was alleged Chinese imports of Chivas 12-year-old were of a younger vintage, and the ensuing row ended up in the Chinese courts.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

10 Apr

Action pledge on Chinese copycats

The Scotch whisky brand could get greater protection after talks between Alex Salmond and a Chinese minister.

Officials said Scotland's first minister was confident China would take action against imitation spirits by the end of the year.

Mr Salmond discussed the issue with minister for quality supervision Wang Yong during his visit to China.

China is one of the fastest growing export markets for Scotch whisky, with direct exports worth £44m a year.

The Scotch whisky brand already enjoys some legal protection, but the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) wants a clampdown on foreign firms using Scottish imagery to sell their products.

The opportunity for Scotch whisky exports to China is enormous given its premium status and increases in disposable income

In 2007, the SWA applied to the Chinese government for geographical indication of origin status.

Since then it has investigated about 200 fake products in China.

Mr Salmond said he was confident the legal protection would soon be secured.

He said: "The indications are that China will lead the global economy out of recession, and expanding international trade with such a major market as China is an important aspect of sustainable recovery.

SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt welcomed the progress made in talks.

"Today's meeting marks a significant milestone in the process, and I believe that we can now look forward to achieving geographical indication of origin for Scotch whisky in China soon," he said.

But Tory chief whip David McLetchie said Scottish Government plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol could lead to other countries imposing import tariffs on whisky.

He said: "The Scottish Government's plans for minimum pricing of alcohol will damage the Scotch whisky industry, one of Scotland's most iconic and successful industries.

"The first minister is quite simply wrong when he states that only low-quality, high-strength drinks will be affected by the minimum pricing proposals."

Article Courtesy of BBCi



09 Apr

Minister reassures whisky industry on price controls

MacAskill uses visit to whyte & Mackay base to confirm support for Scotland’s distillers

PLANS to bring in a minimum price for alcohol will not affect the Scotch whisky industry, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said yesterday.

The Scottish Government has put forward a series of measures to crack down on alcohol abuse, a problem which costs the country £2.25billion a year.

These include plans to bring in a minimum price for drink, a proposal which the Scotch Whisky Association has said risks damaging the whisky industry.

Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Gavin Hewitt said last month: “We agree that attitudes to alcohol in Scotland need to change but minimum pricing is not the answer.”

However, on a visit to the Fettercairn Distillery in Angus, owned by Whyte & Mackay, Mr MacAskill said: “As a government, we are very clear that our plans for minimum pricing will not affect this important industry.

“Minimum pricing is about ending the pocket-money prices and irresponsible promotions that encourage people to buy and drink large amounts of alcohol.

“That’s not what people are doing with premium products like the whisky Whyte & Mackay are producing at the Fettercairn Distillery.

“That’s why I’m taking this opportunity to reassure our distillers that they can count on our continued support.”

Mr MacAskill said Scotland was “rightly proud of our fine whiskies and the industry itself which attract visitors to Scotland from around the world”. He added: “Scotch whiskies are one of the best-known Scottish products and a star in our Homecoming campaign.”

Whyte & Mackay UK managing director Simon Oldham said it was “good to see the Scottish Government confirm its support for our industry”.

He added: “We are keen, like the rest of the drinks sector, to stamp out alcohol abuse.

“We look forward to working with government and others to ensure any new legislation makes the positive difference we all want when it comes to responsible drinking.”

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

08 Apr

Sponsor Announced for Spirit of the West's Food & Drink Marquee

Industry led organisation Scotland Food & Drink, with the support from The Scottish Government, has been confirmed as sponsors of Spirit of the West’s food & drink marquee, one of five themed marquees at the event that will celebrate and showcase the rich culture of Scotland’s west coast.

The food and drink marquee will feature Food from Argyll, a collaboration of high quality local food producers from the west coast, celebrity Scottish chef Nick Nairn on Sunday 17th May, who will cook up dishes with a whisky twist, other cookery demonstrations from well known Whisky Coast chefs, including Shirley Spear from The Three Chimney’s restaurant on Skye, and much more. The festival takes place at Inveraray Castle in May this year and is part of Homecoming Scotland 2009’s Whisky Month.

Scotland Food & Drink is a leadership organisation that guides the industry in making the most of Scotland’s natural resources and the skills and energy of their businesses. Scotland Food & Drink’s vision is to make Scotland internationally known as ‘The Land of Food and Drink’ and their mission is to place Scotland amongst the top 3 of the world’s producers of premium food & drink products.

Fiona Richmond, Scotland Food & Drink project manager said: “Scotland Food & Drink is delighted to be sponsoring the Spirit of the West event during Homecoming Scotland 2009’s Whisky Month. Scottish food and drink is some of the best quality in the world, boasting delicious seafood, beef, game, soft fruits and whisky, to name but a few. The west coast of Scotland and its wealth of dedicated producers truly exemplify the best of our nation’s food and drink industry. We look forward to helping our members to demonstrate to visitors the quality of Scotland’s produce by giving them some superb taste experiences.”

Nicky Murphy, Project Manager for The Whisky Coast and Event Manager for Spirit of the West said: “We are delighted to announce Scotland Food & Drink as sponsors of our food and drink marquee. The association between the two are the perfect match as we both aim to promote the exceptional quality and uniqueness of Scotland’s food & drink products.”

She added: “Their contribution will support our local food & drink producers taking part in the festival and go towards the running costs of this particular marquee.”

Inspired by the blend of whisky, rugged coastlines and the dramatic atmosphere of Scotland’s west coast, the Spirit of the West festival will showcase the very heart of whisky culture with whisky, food & drink, history & heritage, music & drama and arts & crafts from across the region brought to one location. Join in the celebrations at Inveraray Castle on Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th May 2009 and be part of Homecoming Scotland 2009’s whisky month.

Visit for more information. Spirit of the West tickets are now available to buy via For more information on Scotland Food & Drink visit

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

07 Apr

Alex Salmond promotes Scotland's whisky industry in China

First Minister Alex Salmond today beat the drum for Scotland's whisky industry as he continued a series of official engagements in China.

He said tough times for exporters would ease and as markets recovered Scotland would be well-placed to maximise opportunities.

China is already the 15th largest export market for Scotch whisky with shipments in 2007 valued at more than £40 million.

What is claimed to be the biggest contingent of whisky distillers and experts will visit Shanghai next month for a touring whisky festival and tasting event held in 15 countries worldwide.

After a media launch and reception in Shanghai, Mr Salmond said the event would be a "fantastic opportunity" for the industry.

"The increasing popularity of whisky in China makes it an obvious destination for this global whisky roadshow and I hope that many of the visitors who come to try a real Scotch get a taste for Scotland," he said.

"As Whisky Month prepares to get under way in Scotland there has never been a better time to visit our wealth of distilleries, enjoy our scenic majesty and join us for a dram."

Plans were meanwhile announced today for Scottish experts to help train Chinese pharmacists and hospital managers.

The training programme will involve the NHS in Scotland, Edinburgh University, China's ministry of health and Chinese pharmaceutical firm Asiapharm.

It follows a pharmaceutical research deal between Asiapharm and an Oban-based marine biotechnology company struck last year.

The scheme announced today by Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop, who is visiting China with Mr Salmond, will be funded by the Chinese.

It will involve University of Edinburgh helping to design courses and providing lecturers to train China's next generation of pharmacists and hospital management executives.

The NHS in Scotland will give guidance, monitor training programmes and co-ordinate lectures from other Scottish institutions.

Ms Hyslop said: "This training programme - which represents a major investment in Scotland's medical expertise - will see hundreds of senior managerial and medical staff from hospitals across China learning from Scotland's excellence.

"We already have constructive life science links with China, which I witnessed first hand last year when a major pharmaceutical research partnership was forged between firms from our countries.

Article Courtesy of The Herald


The Herald

07 Apr

Glendronach, the richly-sherried single malt, makes a spirited comeback

Sleeping giant to take malt lovers on a journey of re-discovery

WARM, rich oak and sherry sweetness. Deep amber gold. Rich mahogany. Spiced mulled wine and pear. Treacle toffee and chocolate orange. Fruit compote and glacier morello cherries. Walnut cake and mocha. Viscous and syrupy.

An astonishing smorgasbord of complex tastes, colours and character is at the heart of the new GlenDronach portfolio of single malts which are re-launched today (Tuesday April 7) following a £250,000 investment by its new owners, The BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd.

The GlenDronach Distillery in Forgue, Aberdeenshire, is famous for producing richly-sherried single malt whiskies of inimitable and individual character. Today sees three sublime malts – a 12, 15 and 18-year-old - make a welcome re-appearance on the market.

Managing Director and Master Blender Billy Walker was instrumental in awakening the sleeping giant. “This is the beginning of our strategy to re-package and re-launch GlenDronach in markets worldwide. We've taken it back to how it was originally, promoting it as one of Scotland's original sherried whiskies."

Distillery Manager Alan McConnochie (pictured) said: “Whisky connoisseurs have been waiting patiently for our new core range and it’s exciting for all of us at GlenDronach to be part of bringing this iconic brand back to life. I hope my tasting notes are interesting.

“The classic GlenDronach 12-year-old, a superb, richly sherried single malt, is matured for at least twelve years in a combination of the finest Spanish Pedro Ximinez and Oloroso sherry casks. Non-chill filtered, of natural colour and bottled at 43%, the GlenDronach 12-year-old “Original” is a sweet, creamy dram.

Deep amber-red gold.

Sweet, creamy vanilla, with hints of ginger. Spiced mulled wine and pear.

Rich, creamy, silky-smooth. Warm, rich oak and sherry sweetness, full mouth feel, raisins and soft fruits. Spicy with medium length and a dry finish.

Long, full and firm, slightly nutty.

Renowned amongst many whisky enthusiasts around the world, the GlenDronach 15-year-old full-bodied malt is matured for a minimum of fifteen years in the finest Oloroso sherry casks. Bottled at 46%, the GlenDronach “Revival” is non chill filtered and of natural colour.

Deep gold with a lovely mahogany heart.

Incredible concentration of aromas. Treacle toffee and chocolate orange.

A very dynamic and full bodied dram for its age. Chewy with coffee chocolate and treacle scones.

A veritable feast to enliven the senses.

“And finally the famous GlenDronach 18-year-old, now re-named “Allardice”, is the third expression in the GlenDronach core range. This exceptional single sherried malt is non chill filtered and of natural colour. Matured in the finest Spanish Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 46%, this richly sherried malt is truly unforgettable.

Bright deep gold with a tawny centre.

Sweet aromatics of fudge and muscovado sugar. Fruit compote and glacier morello cherries provide added complexity.

Rich dark and seductive. Remarkable flavours of stewed fruits and all-spice marry together with classical aged Oloroso and toasted walnut bread and chocolate orange.

Tremendously complex and long."

Billy added: “The name "GlenDronach" is Gaelic for "the valley of the brambles" but there's nothing prickly about our three new releases. All have that distinctive sweet, sherried GlenDronach nose, with subtle hints of chocolate, ginger, autumn fruits and much more.

“And you don't have to imagine them any longer; you can now taste them for yourself. The sleeping giant has awoken!”

For more information and stockists, visit our new website or call Marketing Manager, Kerry White, on 00441 324 682220.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

06 Apr

First Minister keen to explore China’s ‘massive’ potential

Scottish Government delegation in Hong Kong at start of week-long trip to build links between countries

A visit to China by First Minister Alex Salmond will be aimed at exploiting that country’s “massive” potential for Scotland, aides said yesterday.

The week-long visit by Mr Salmond and Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop gets under way in Hong Kong today. The visit will then take the ministers and the 10 officials accompanying them to Shanghai on Tuesday and then to Beijing for the remainder of the week.

It follows a visit to China last month by Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said the Chinese government had invited the first minister some time ago and argued the two visits complemented each other.

He also said Mr Salmond had met Amnesty International and the Scottish Human Rights Commission in advance of the trip to discuss human rights concerns in China and how these could best be expressed.

The trip coincides with the annual Scotland Week events in the US, where the Scottish Government contingent will be led by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Mr Salmond’s spokesman said the China visit was intended to build on existing links in areas such as education, and exploit new opportunities in areas such as renewable energy, golf tourism, life sciences and computer gaming.

Mr Salmond said there was “massive” potential for Scottish companies, universities and colleges to get involved with China.

It will be the 10th Scottish ministerial visit to China since 2004 and follows a trip last year in which Ms Hyslop signed a deal with the Chinese education ministry.

More than 5,000 students from China are now studying in Scotland and each is thought to generate at least £50,000 for the economy during a four-year course.

During the visit, Mr Salmond and Ms Hyslop will try to set up meetings between the Chinese government and bodies such as the Scotch Whisky Association and Scottish Enterprise.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

06 Apr

The Malt of the Arts kicks off 2009 Program with Behaviour

anCnoc Highland Single Malt Scotch whisky is delighted to announce details of its 2009 sponsorship program, starting with the Behaviour Festival at the Arches in Glasgow. Behaviour takes place from 13 – 25 April 2009 and will feature 13 international artists, who are set to push the boundaries of theatre and contemporary performance to the limit.

Over the last four years anCnoc has firmly established itself as the sponsor and the whisky of the arts in Scotland, supporting venues and events including The Arches, the Arts and Business Scotland Awards, The Traverse Theatre, The Fruitmarket Gallery, The Tron Theatre as well as art galleries such as the Red Door Gallery and more recently, Glasgow’s Recoat Gallery and Edinburgh’s art space Pageant have been added as anCnoc partners.

Says Nicola Ball, Brand Manager of anCnoc: ’We are looking forward to a full program of events in 2009 and are excited to be involved with the Arches again this year. The line-up of emerging talent and international acclaimed artists at the Behaviour festival is fantastic and I’m sure that we will see some very interesting and thought-provoking work. Our ancnoc-tails and drams will be available throughout the festival and I hope everyone has the chance to try one. Slainte!’

After the huge success in Scotland, anCnoc took a step south of the border last year and launched a series of partner events in Leeds. The contemporary boutique malt invested in the Leeds Film Festival, The Carriageworks, Project Space Leeds, The Northern Art Prize as well as the DADI awards. A new addition to the 2009 program is the Northern Ballet Theatre, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Leeds has catapulted anCnoc to becoming the whisky of the north and sales have augmented considerably since launching the malt of the arts in this city of culture.

anCnoc was relaunched in 2003 with a fresh and contemporary look and has increasingly become a strong favourite amongst whisky connoisseurs and whisky lovers. Its contemporary take on different ways of enjoying whisky allows anCnoc to work together with some of the most cutting edge masters of mixology in order to continuously find new ways of savouring the fine single malt. anCnoc’s no.1 ambassador Scott Gemmell, managing director of LA Bartenders and founder of Scotland’s first Bartender Training academy, has created some outstanding cocktails which are available across all sponsored venues including the Apple Mac, the anCnocito and last but not least the new signature cocktail, the Blackhill Breakfast, which is very unusually served with a triangle of toasted bread.

anCnoc’s home is at Knockdhu Distillery in the Scottish Highlands, where Distillery Manager Gordon Bruce and his men – the magnificent 7 of Knockdhu – carefully craft this outstanding malt with utmost dedication.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

05 Apr

Celebrities help turn women on to whisky

Makers of scotch say its female fans have changed its historic macho image

Whisky, traditionally the macho drink of choice for middle-aged men, is increasingly becoming a favourite among women.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has almost doubled its female members in the past three years and manufacturers claim there has been a noticeable rise in female connoisseurs. Images of celebrities such as KT Tunstall, Kate Moss and Zoe Ball, along with increasing depictions of female television characters drinking whisky, have all helped create an upsurge in new varieties of an old drink.

Research conducted by AC Nielsen suggests that at least a quarter of scotch drinkers in the UK are now female, compared to just one in 10 a few years ago, prompting whisky companies to widen their focus to engage with the evolving market.

"The important thing about whisky is - contrary to what people think - there is a wide variety of styles and tastes," said Campbell Evans of the Scotch Whisky Association. "There is much less concern about mixing blended whisky with other drinks like lemonade and cola, or of trying it in cocktails, than there used to be. People are experimenting far more."

Liqueurs laced with whisky are also proving a popular way of enticing the female market.

"A big number of our customers are women. They really like whisky-based liqueurs," said Roy Lewis, who runs the successful Hebridean Liqueur Company. "Women buy a lot of our products as gifts, but we find that about 90% of them usually buy one for themselves at the same time.

"A lot of our female customers claim they don't like whisky and are then pleasantly surprised that they are able to enjoy it as a liqueur."

The Leith Liqueur Company, another of the new breed of producers, has had such a success with its Strawberry Kiss liqueur that it featured in the final of the World of Whiskies Awards in 2007.

The latest figures show that women now account for 15% of all members of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, compared with 9% three years ago. And the society says they are often among the most enthusiastic.

"The glamorisation of whisky by celebrities is one of the reasons why whisky is enjoying heightened success," said Kai Ivalo, marketing director of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. "There is plenty of evidence that increasing numbers of females are joining us now.

"The society is fun and approachable, it's not snooty or elitist. There's no funny handshake or tests to see how much you know about whisky. We have developed an environment that many women feel comfortable in and enjoy."

Neil Macdonald, brand director of Glenlivet, added: "In February, at the annual Whisky Live event in London, we noted an increase in the number of women at the Glenlivet stand, a real mix of connoisseurs and new whisky drinkers. Many of these ladies had travelled specifically for Whisky Live and were very knowledgeable about scotch.

"Mistakes have been made in the past when marketing to women by offering purely cosmetic or 'lighter' drinks. Today we find that female consumers are often the most demanding - looking for product integrity and substance."

Article Courtesy of The Observer


The Observer

02 Apr

MHOR Fyne connections for Glengoyne

Glengoyne Single Highland Malt is building on its ‘Real Taste of Malt, Real Taste of Food’ credentials this Homecoming Scotland year, by forming a unique partnership with celebrated Chef Tom Lewis, of Monachyle Mhor, and iconic Scottish food producers Loch Fyne Oysters.

With a shared passion for using the finest ingredients to create authentic Scottish tastes and flavours, the like-minded companies will be collaborating on a number of food and drink initiatives to promote the very best of Scottish produce and their common brand values of tradition, craftsmanship and outstanding quality.

Owned by independent family company, Ian Macleod Distillers, Glengoyne, Scotland’s most beautiful distillery, has been producing its unique and complex, Single Highland Malt Whisky for over 175 years. Using methods passed down for generations, Glengoyne has nurtured and perfected the art of producing the authentic taste of Malt Whisky, untainted by peat smoke. The result is a portfolio of multi-award winning whiskies including the core 10, 17 and 21 Years Old range, as well as special limited edition Single Malts, released each year.

A true food lover and entrepreneur, Tom Lewis of Monachyle Mhor, rose to fame as a chef contestant on the BBC’s Great British Menu. Beginning with the award-wining Monachyle Mhor Hotel and Restaurant in the heart of the Trossachs, Tom now also runs a fishmonger, bakery, tearoom and livestock farm, under the MHOR brand. Deeply committed to using and promoting the best produce Scotland has to offer, Tom has become a passionate advocate of combining age-old Scottish methods with innovation and contemporary flair.

For 30 years, Loch Fyne Oysters has been dedicated to enterprise with respect for animals, people and ecology. From humble beginnings selling oysters from a roadside stall, Loch Fyne Oysters is now one of Scotland’ s best known brands. Located on the spectacular shores of Loch Fyne, the business now includes oyster and mussel farms, traditional smokehouse, Oyster Bar (the original forerunner to Loch Fyne Restaurants) and farm shop. One thing that has not changed over the years is their absolute commitment to only the highest quality and freshest produce from sustainable sources, reared and prepared using traditional methods.

Iain Weir, Director of Marketing for Ian Macleod Distillers commented:

“At Glengoyne we take great pride in what we do, ensuring every detail is accounted for and doing so with enthusiasm and satisfaction. Both Loch Fyne Oysters and MHOR share our outlook and commitment to quality, and we are very much looking forward to working together. Building a strong partnership with like-minded brands will help us all achieve common objectives, reinforce our key messages to customers and reach new audiences.”

Tom Lewis, who has already created a range of mouth watering dishes using Glengoyne Single Highland Malt, also participated in the inaugural Glengoyne Distillery Christmas Food and Drink Festival in December 08.

Attracting over 5,000 visitors on the day, the event showcased the best local produce and Slow Food initiatives from the area. With plans to make it an annual event, Glengoyne look forward to welcoming Loch Fyne Oysters to the distillery to join Tom and the other independent food and drink producers in December 2009.

For further information visit:

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

01 Apr

Phil 'The Power' Taylor launches whisky fragrance

Darts legend Phil "The Power" Taylor has teamed up with Whyte & Mackay to launch a range of whisky-infused aftershaves.

W&M Undeniable Power is a fragrance for men and women, described by a spokeswoman as being "for today's aspirational, style-conscious and whisky-loving individual".

Using David Beckham's DVB fragrance shoot as a reference point, Taylor has teamed up with Miss British Isles Nicola Moriarty for the campaign.

He said: "This is a particularly lucrative market and one David Beckham has done particularly well in. I think he wants to do more in this area, but his diary in April is full, so I thought today (April 1) would be a good time for me to launch it."

The fragrance includes a number of top-secret ingredients, including the rare lipra lofo.

Article Courtesy of Off Licence News


Off Licence News

01 Apr

Major Highland tourism drive to stress high value of euro

Cash boost of £900,000 for campaign highlighting wide variety of north attractions

A £900,000 tourism campaign to promote the Highlands to European visitors will capitalise on the current value of the euro.

VisitScotland’s biggest annual European touring campaign showcases more than 100 attractions, events and businesses across the north.

Last year’s touring campaign generated more than £7million for the Highlands’ economy from the German market, while the French version resulted in more than £3.5million.

A “seasonal calendar” is at the centre of the campaign, featuring things to see and do throughout each month of the year, including Inverness Music Festival, Highland Feast, Loch Ness Hogmanay Festival and many more. May is also included with it being the official Whisky Month, featuring the Malt Whisky Trail.

The campaign promotes the programme of events celebrating the year of Homecoming, as well as detailing travel deals on offer in autumn and quieter winter months. This approach benefits tourism businesses throughout the area by attracting visitors all year round.

The campaign will target millions of potential first-time and repeat visitors from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Belgium, promoting Scotland as an affordable, quality, year-round destination. Visitors will be encouraged to travel and explore Scotland as a whole in addition to the Highlands’ impressive visitor experience.

Working in partnership with low-cost airlines Jet2, FlyGlobespan and Ryanair, the campaign will show visitors how easy it is to get to Scotland on a budget. The campaign has been backed by more than 40 Scottish businesses from across the country, including the Highlands, offering visitors access to great deals. VisitScotland is also highlighting the many examples of prices, from drinks to tours, that are now 30% cheaper than last year, thanks to the high value of the euro.

VisitScotland's regional director Scott Armstrong said: “Working to attract visitors in the current economic downturn, it is critical that we can demonstrate value for money while at the same time building a strong desirable brand for the Highlands as a year round destination. This campaign exploits the strong euro and the excellent range of products we have on offer, not least Homecoming Scotland 2009.

“While July and August are key months for international travellers, we all know that there are great reasons for visiting in every month of the year. This campaign is all about delivering that message. Repeat visitors in particular, making use of direct flights to Scotland, are increasingly likely to return for a break out with the high season. By helping to make the most of spare capacity on flights and in our hotels and B&Bs at these times, they will make an enormous contribution in helping our tourism industry grow.”

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

01 Apr

New Glendronach website heralds return of core range

THE sleeping giant has awoken!

The great news for discerning whisky lovers is that the new state-of-the-art GlenDronach website is now live at

The website, entitled “A Journey of Re-Discovery”, explains how the incomparable malt is now making a triumphant return under its new owners, The BenRiach Distillery Company.

People who log on can take their own journey of re-discovery to find out more about this richly-sherried single malt.

You’ll discover everything about the distillery’s 200-year history.

Characters such as James Allardice who founded the distillery and sold his “Guid GlenDronach” into Edinburgh public houses in the nineteenth century...with a little help from some ladies of the night.

Far-sighted investors such as Walter Scott and Captain Charles Grant.

The renaissance in 2008 under Billy Walker and The BenRiach Distillery Company.

The committed team at the Aberdeenshire distillery who ensure that the distinctive practices that have always defined the process will live on.

The three exceptional malts coming to the market on April 6 and creating the GlenDronach “Core Range”. The popular 12-year-old “Original”; the iconic GlenDronach 15-year-old, now christened “Revival”; and the magnificent 18-year-old, named “Allardice” as a fond tip of the hat to its colourful founder.

For whisky connoisseurs, take time to find out more about our malt mill, the glistening copper mash tun, the Oregan pine washbacks and our four elegant copper pot stills which distil and re-distil the finest, richest spirit.

News about appearances at Spring Trade Fairs in France, Holland, Germany and Taiwan.

Yes, GlenDronach, the sleeping giant, has finally awoken and is once again an independent functioning distillery.

Marketing Executive Kerry White said: “Independent ownership now gives us the freedom to re-kindle the reputation of GlenDronach as the distiller of richly-sherried single malt whiskies of inimitable and individual character. It's a reputation that has travelled worldwide - to those in the know, it's a well-kept secret.

“The team at GlenDronach has set out on a journey to bring GlenDronach back to life. Join us on this journey and keep up to date with the latest news by joining our mailing list.

“Or if you have a website, why not set up links to our new site, which will attract traffic to your site too.

“If I can help you in any way, call me, Kerry White, on 00441 324 682220 or email me on”

So once again, the good news is that the GlenDronach sleeping giant has awoken. Join us on a twenty-first century “journey of rediscovery”.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release
March 2009 Scotch Whisky News

31 Mar

Visitors have a barrel of fun at whisky centre's ride

IT may not be advisable after a few nips, but from today, visitors to the revamped Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile will be propelled around the attraction on a brand new "barrel ride".

The £3 million refurbishment, carried out over the past six months, has seen the old ride ripped out and replaced with an all-new multimedia experience.

It is designed to take people through the entire distilling process and features an innovative mix of live exhibits, video screens and audio.

The attraction is also giving people some of the smells associated with whisky making, from the oak casks to the distinctive aroma of the malts themselves, with a specialist company brought in to develop the scents.

To help bring in the widest possible audience the audio is available in 15 different languages, including Gaelic, Polish, Hindi and Mandarin, with actors performing the script in each language to ensure it captures the spirit of the experience.

David Wilson, technical manager at the Scotch Whisky Experience, has been overseeing the creation of the new ride, and admitted it had been a difficult job.

"It is very complicated, making sure everything worked the way it should and that the sound and video was all in synch, so we are still tweaking it a little bit," he said.

"I hope we will get quite a positive response, and there is certainly a 'wow' factor about it. We have had the guides and the staff here going round to help us get it right, and they have all been amazed."

After the ride, tour groups will be taken on a video tour of Scotland's distilleries and there will also be scratch-and-sniff cards to help people determine which type of whisky is best suited to their tastes.

These will include the rich smokey textures of Islay malts, and the lighter, citrus smells of Lowland malts, with colour-coded areas for people to put their glass depending on which scent they prefer.

The finishing touches are still to be put to several areas of the tour but by the end of the week groups will be able to finish their trip to the attraction with a tasting session in a stunning new vault room, surrounded by the world's largest whisky collection.

The collection was bought by drinks company Diageo from Brazilian businessman Claive Vidiz and features 3384 bottles.

These have been shipped over from Brazil and set out in specially lit glass cabinets which line the walls of the vault room and provide a stunning end to the tour.

This is the first major overhaul the attraction has had since it opened in 1998, with a barrel ride that at the time was considered cutting edge.

The management hopes its renovations will boost visitor numbers at the centre to around 255,000 a year, from a current average of 230,000.

The Experience will also feature a second tasting bar, currently being completed, with a viewing gallery over Edinburgh, and it is hoped this will be opened by First Minister Alex Salmond in May.

Article Courtesy of Edinburgh Evening News


Edinburgh Evening News

30 Feb

Hankey Bannister erupts on Volcano Island

Award-winning Hankey Bannister Blended Scotch Whisky, which is renowned for its sophisticated, light and smooth taste, is the ‘whisky of choice’ on one of the world’s most remote islands and Norway’s only living volcano - Jan Mayen.

The fine dram has been specifically requested by the island’s inhabitants - a group of meteorologists working for the Norwegian government. Their favourite tipple is now included in the crew’s supply delivery, which is dropped off on the island by a Norwegian military airplane every two months.

Says Cathy James, Brand Manager for Hankey Bannister: ‘It is great that Hankey Bannister is so popular on Jan Mayen and we were impressed that the people living and working on the island know so much about our brand. As a sign of appreciation we sent them a winter survival package including, beautifully engraved dram glasses, sturdy sports bags, pens plus several domino sets to keep everyone occupied throughout those freezing winter months.’

Jan Mayen is situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, 950 km west of Norway, and lies in between Greenland, Iceland and the North Pole. The view of the island is dominated by the active volcano, Beerenberg (2277m), which had its last eruption in 1985.

Hankey Bannister is International Beverage’s flagship blended whisky and known for its quality and smoothness. Current expressions include the original blend, Hankey Bannister 12 Year Old, Hankey Bannister 21 Year Old and the ‘World Best Scotch Blended Whisky’* Hankey Bannister 40 Year Old.

In Norway, Hankey Bannister is a popular blend, constantly climbing higher in the ranks. Around the world, Hankey Bannister is sold in over 40 countries and is gaining continuously in recognition. This blend which is of the highest quality is a result of careful crafting by Master Blender Stuart Harvey and the unique combination of the finest malts from Interbev’s distilleries.

*Hankey Bannister 40 YO was voted ‘World best Scotch blended Whisky at the World Whisky Awards 2008.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

28 Mar

Rare whisky scoops top award

A RARE whisky from an abandoned distillery that has been closed for a quarter of a century has scooped the award for the world's best single malt.

Last year's special release of 29-year-old Port Ellen cask strength whisky took top prize at the San Francisco world spirits competition.

The Islay whisky is one of the most desirable in the world, with most bottles pre-ordered by collectors.

Just 6660 bottles were released last year, with a price tag of £180. The winning whisky was part of a limited edition batch of 200 bottles, with some fetching upwards of £2000 on the internet.

Article Courtesy of Daily Record


Daily Record

27 Mar

Ritual heralds whisky boost

Process makes new stills ready for increased production

A famous Highland distillery has just installed four new copper stills ready to boost production to meet world-wide demand.

But while the stills are new, it took an age-old ritual to make them finally ready to produce Glenmorangie whisky from next month.

The process is known as “sweetening the stills”, and involves a botanical infusion of herbs and heather being passed through the distillation process, to take the edge, or new taste, off the copper.

The last man to carry out the process at Glenmorangie Distillery at Tain in Easter Ross was John Murray nearly 20 years ago and yesterday the honour was passed to his son Dougie who also works at Glenmorangie.

Dougie Murray and distillery manager Andy Macdonald gathered the fragrant ingredients from nearby Morangie Hill for the private ceremony.

The herbs were immersed in boiling water and distilled through the stills to ready them for the uisge beatha – Gaelic for whisky, literally “water of life”.

Mr Macdonald said: “This respected whisky ritual has been carried out at the distillery for as long as the men can remember.

“While the sweetening of the stills is regarded by some as a good luck charm, its heritage is very deep-rooted and it serves to prime the copper and add to the sweetness of the product that Glenmorangie is synonymous with.

“We have a commitment and responsibility to protect the integrity of the whisky as well as the celebrated art of distilling, and sweetening the stills is a traditional aspect of this.”

He said it was even more touching that Dougie has taken over from his father to carry on the tradition.

Dougie Murray said he remembered his father talking about the sweetening of the stills the last time.

He said: “He was immensely honoured to be involved and loved the attention surrounding it. It means a great deal to me to be able to carry on this Glenmorangie tradition which is now also a family tradition and I know my father would have been very proud.”

Glenmorangie’s towering swan-necked stills – which are the tallest in the country – follow exactly the same design of the original stills installed when the distillery opened in 1843.

They will allow the company to significantly increase whisky production to meet the growing demand for premium single malt whiskies from existing and emerging markets in the US, Far East and central Europe.

The sweetening recipe of herbs includes local heather and lichen collected at Tarlogie springs which supplies the distillery with hard water filtered through lime and sandstone.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

26 Feb

Treasure trove of rare Highland Park single malt whisky discovered in Japan

- The sold-out 1977 Bicentenary Vintage re-released in UK -

A treasure trove of rare Highland Park single malt discovered in Japanese warehouses has today been re-released onto the UK market.

The limited edition Bicentenary 1977 Vintage was originally launched in 1998 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Orkney distillery. International demand was on an unprecedented scale and the bottling sold out almost immediately, fast becoming a collectors’ item.

Jason Craig, Global Controller, Highland Park comments: “We were astounded to discover this rare stock in our previous distributor’s warehouses in Japan. This is a very special expression of Highland Park and one which we thought had sold out and been consumed long ago. The Japanese have long been recognised as discerning consumers and collectors of single malt whisky and, as a result, a significant proportion made the journey to Tokyo and beyond. We decided to repatriate the remaining Bicentenary 1977 Vintage bottles to celebrate its extended Japanese sabbatical and offer whisky lovers a rare opportunity to enjoy this incredible single malt again.”

The 21 year old single malt (40% abv) was awarded 9 ½ out of 10 in issue 5 of Whisky Magazine by the late Michael Jackson, considered by many as the greatest whisky writer of them all, who said the single malt had “astonishing complexity and length”. It also remains the favourite expression of Highland Park for both Distillery Manager, Russell Anderson, and Head of Brand Education, Gerry Tosh.

Just 694 bottles of the Bicentenary 1977 Vintage will be released onto the market and strong demand is expected from collectors, particularly as the first release of this edition sold for £69.99 and can now fetch £300 and upwards at specialist whisky auctions.

Martin Green, Whisky Specialist, Bonhams, commented: “Highland Park has been one of the most highly collected malts for many years with a cult following by whisky collectors. For a relatively low investment this bottling is certain to be sought after in the years to come. The distillery’s expressions from decades ago, many now quite valuable, have become very popular in recent years within the growing international collectors market."

The 1977 Bicentenary Vintage comes in a bespoke wooden presentation box embossed with intricate Japanese inspired design. It is available from the Highland Park distillery shop and online at, priced £250.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

26 Mar

South Korea to scrap tariffs on EU whisky in 3 years

South Korea may scrap tariffs on European whisky within three years as part of a tentative trade deal concluded with the European Union this week, a news agency report said Wednesday.

South Korea currently imposes a 20-percent tariff on European Union whisky shipments, which stand at 247 million dollars a year, Yonhap reported.

Seoul and Brussels plan to settle outstanding issues on the matter at trade ministers' talks in London on April 2.

The two sides reached a tentative agreement on trade after almost two years of talks on Tuesday.

The accord would ultimately eliminate some 97 percent of tariffs on bilateral trade over the next five years, EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero said.

The 27-nation EU bloc was South Korea's second largest trading partner after China last year, with two-way trade worth more than 90 billion dollars.

Article Courtesy of EU Business


EU Business

25 Mar

Whisky boss confident of support from Indian owner

Recent report suggested United Spirits was looking to offload W&M

The new boss of Whyte and Mackay (W&M) said yesterday the whisky maker’s owner was committed to the company despite speculation it was to be sold.

John Beard was speaking as Glasgow-based W&M unveiled him as chief executive to replace Ashwin Malik.

Mr Beard, 46, joined the firm on Monday after 19 years working at Bacardi and associated companies.

He worked in a variety of sales, marketing and general management roles at Bacardi, including UK sales director, before taking on the job of regional director for eastern Europe and responsibility for its travel retail business.

For the past three years he has been employed in the UK as chief executive of distribution partnership Bacardi Brown-Forman.

Mr Malik is returning to Asia after nearly two years helping to build W&M following its acquisition in 2007 by Indian entrepreneur Vijay Mallya and his United Spirits group.

W&M made pre-tax profits of £25.58million during the 18 months to March 31, 2008, compared with losses of £2.19million in the previous year, according to the firm’s last reported results.

Mr Beard said: “I have been really impressed with Whyte and Mackay’s performance and its commitment to building not only strong brands, but strong international brands.

“I have met Dr Mallya personally and there is no doubt in my mind that he is committed to this company, committed to building great premium brands and committed to making Whyte and Mackay a major international spirit company. I am looking forward to doing my bit to help that become a reality.”

A report earlier this month claimed that W&M was to be sold by its parent.

The company was expected to fetch just £200million, compared with the £595million paid by United in May 2007.

United had said in February it was pushing ahead with plans to sell 49% of W&M as part of discussions over the disposal of a 15% stake in the entire group to UK-based drink giant Diageo.

Media reports at the time said United would use proceeds from the group stake sale to reduce debt of about £835million from its purchase of W&M, which produces and markets a range of whisky and vodka brands.

W&M’s products include Whyte and Mackay blended whisky, The Dalmore and Jura malts, Glayva liqueur and vodka brands Vladivar and Pinky.

Edrington Group, maker of The Famous Grouse and The Macallan whiskies, has revealed plans to establish its first wholly owned sales and distribution teams in two key export markets in Asia.

Glasgow-based Edrington will now have direct responsibility for all its sales activity in South Korea and Taiwan, the fifth and ninth biggest countries for whisky by value.

The two teams will begin trading on Wednesday, April 1, and will employ 155 people between them.

The Taiwan operation will have its headquarters in Taipei, with the Korean business to be based in Seoul.

Edrington is also setting up wholly owned operations in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland and will join forces with Beam Global Spirits and Wine in a further 18 countries spread across Asia-Pacific and Europe.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

25 Mar

W&M to host Twitter whisky hunts

Whyte & Mackay is claiming to be the first drinks company to use the social networking service Twitter and mobile tracking application Google Latitude to create a UK-wide promotional event.

The Whyte & Mackay Safari Hunt will invite consumers to use the services to follow cryptic clues to track down two promotional lions in bars in Glasgow and London.

Those finding the lions and revealing their Twitter ID will be given a prizes from a selection of bottlings of whisky.

When the bottles have run out participants will have a drink bought for them.

Marketing manager Phil McTeer said: "Drinking Whyte & Mackay is a social experience, so it makes perfect sense that we would be engaging through social media.

"But instead of just sending out Twitter updates and blog charts, we wanted to fully embrace the ethos of web 2.0."

The Glasgow hunt is on Friday (March 27) with the London event on April 3.

Other cities will feature at later dates.

Article Courtesy of Harpers



24 Mar

Arkwrights' auction for Comic Relief

A RARE bottle of whisky has raised a hefty sum for charity.

The auction took place during a recent whisky tasting event organised by Arkwrights of Highworth at Stanton House Hotel.

Mick Woolmer successfully bid £350 for a rare bottle of Compass Box whisky, with the proceeds going to Red Nose Day Just 163 bottles were bottled on site at the 2009 London Whisky Festival and no more bottlings of are to be made.

Article Courtesy of This is Wiltshire


This is Wiltshire

23 Mar

Teacher's whisky builds on its 'Create Your Space' initiative

Beam Global Spirits & Wine is launching a national media campaign this month (March) for Teacher's blended Scotch whisky in support of its "Create Your Space" initiative.

"Create Your Space" is part of a £1.5m investment in the brand this year and will appeal to men in their 30s looking for "time out to pursue their interests".

Press advertising is to appear in The Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Guardian Weekend and Telegraph Magazine during March and April.

The ad will show Peter "Long-John" Taylor enjoying a glass of Teacher's in his study, surrounded by his vast collection of nautical items.

It advertises an on-pack offer giving drinkers the chance to win one of 10 £5,000 prize funds to create their "ultimate collection". Five hundred auction vouchers worth £200 each will also be up for grabs.

The offer is an evolution of "Create Your Space", now in its third year, which has previously included on-pack offers to win a tailor-made shed, state-of-the-art Airstream, and a classic car.

The most recent on-pack offer attracted high interest with a huge 11% of offer packs being redeemed.

Beam Global marketing manager Aileen Nicol said: "‘Create Your Space' makes Teacher's relevant and accessible to target consumers by appealing to men who desire ‘man space' in which they can escape and become an authority on their chosen subjects.

"Following consumer research into what men enjoy doing in their spare time, we are now enabling them to build a collection relevant to their hobbies and interests."

Further activity for Teacher's this year will include a targeted consumer PR campaign and in-store activity to be launched shortly.

Article Courtesy of Talking Retail


Talking Retail

23 Mar

Old Pulteney announces ‘Wish You Were Here’ Photography Competition Winner 2009

Old Pulteney Highland Single Malt Scotch whisky is delighted to announce the winner of the UK’s biggest maritime amateur photography competition ‘Wish You Were Here’. Laurence Cartwright, from Hove, Sussex was crowned the winner of this year’s competition, run in association with the Sunday Express and won a £2500 cash prize plus a trip to the Pulteney Distillery in Wick – the most northerly distillery on the UK mainland.

This year’s competition has seen over 3000 entries from all over the country including seaside pictures from as far afield as Fuday on the Outer Hebrides all the way down to the picturesque island of Jersey.

Says Laurence Cartwright: ‘I am absolutely thrilled to have won the competition. I am a keen amateur photographer but never in a million years did I imagine I would win. The prize is amazing and I’m really looking forward to going to Wick! Many thanks to Old Pulteney!

Old Pulteney’s Wish You Were Here competition took place for the fourth year in a row and is run in association with the Sunday Express, the RNLI, Amateur Photographer, Britain on View/Visit Britain and the National Maritime Museum. The winning picture will be made into postcards, which will be available along the British coastline, and the picture will be exhibited in the National Maritime Museum.

Says Iain Baxter, Senior Brand Manager of Old Pulteney: ‘Old Pulteney’s Wish You Were Here competition has gone from strength to strength over the last four years and we’re absolutely delighted with its success. Every year we receive more entries and at a really high standard. It has been extremely hard for all the judges this year to choose a winner, because we have received some fantastic entries. Laurence Cartwright’s picture ‘Sunstar over West Pier’ stood out though: It is a delightful picture and captures everything we were looking for in a winning photograph: the beauty and romance of the British seaside, great composition and fantastic use of light. ‘Sunstar over West Pier’ is a wonderful image; it is so tranquil, nostalgic, calming and really tells a story. Congratulations to Laurence!’

To view the winning picture and the 10 runners up please visit or

Old Pulteney, also known as the ‘Genuine Maritime Malt’ is a great supporter of all things maritime and on top of bringing Wish You Were Here to life, the malt also sponsors a number of prestigious sailing events around the country, including the Round the Island Race in Cowes, Isle of Wight, the Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta and the Old Pulteney IRC Scottish Championship in Largs, Scotland.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

23 Mar

England set for first single malt whisky

England will have its first whisky release in December of this year, Harpers Wine and Spirit can reveal.

St. George's Distillery - home of the English Whisky Company - is seeking to target the lucrative Japanese and Indian markets with its range of peated and unpeated single malt whiskies.

The family-owned, Norfolk based business is also hoping to cash in on the national pride surrounding the 2012 Olympics.

Managing Director, Andrew Nelstrop, said that interest in the spirit, which cannot be classified as whisky until December, is already high.

Just 349 cases are being released for this Christmas.

"We're satisfied that we have made it this far," Andrew Nelstrop said.

"The quality is excellent and this really is an English product. Our whisky is made through a slow and gentle process."

St George's Distillery will produce 150,000 bottles of whisky each year, but has the capacity to increase production significantly if required.

The whisky comes in four ‘chapters' of new spirit, peated new spirit 18-month barrel aged peated and 18 month unpeated.

Article Courtesy of Harpers



21 Mar

Diageo on the move

Diageo plans to save several million pounds annually by giving up its central London headquarters and moving staff to another office site in north west London.

The move, which comes as the owner of Johnnie Walker whisky cuts some £100m ($144m) in costs, will affect several hundred staff and will be completed by the end of 2009.

Diageo leases offices in Henrietta Place near Bond Street and owns an office that can accommodate all its 1,100 staff in Park Royal in north-west London. The lease on the Henrietta Place office is due for renewal in 2010.

Article Courtesy of Financial Times


Financial Times

19 Mar

Berry Bros & Rudd release a Michael Jackson whisky

Berry Bros and Rudd have released a new limited edition whisky which has been created in honour of one of the industry's most respected professionals - Michael Jackson.

The writer and journalist, Jackson who died in 2007, wrote several influential books about beer and whisky.

His book the Malt Whisky Companion reviewed a large number whiskys and gave them a scoring from one to 100.

According to Jackson - only those with a score above 75 were ever worth publishing.

Berry Bros & Rudd spirits manager Doug McIvor and Whisky Magazine decided to honour his memory by creating a one-off, limited edition whisky in his name, with a label designed by Jackson's brother-in-law.

A unique blend was made using the opened bottles from Jackson's extensive collection of tasting samples, creating what McIvor terms as a whisky, "of great distinction."

Berry Bros & Rudd say the brand is a, "rare, exquisite blend with aromas of apples, custard cream and orange peel with lurking spice and delicate whiffs of smoke.

With a smooth and round nose-feel, the palate is succulent and balanced with some toffee, sherry notes an juicy oak.

A kick of spice bursts through to stimulate the end palate revealing a long, complex and mellow finale."

A proportion of the proceeds will go to the Parkinson Society.

Available from Berry Bros & Rudd priced £69.95

Article Courtesy of Harpers



19 Mar

Whisky tourists splash out £25m at distilleries

WHISKY is still proving to be a major attraction when it comes to bringing tourists to Scotland.

Figures from ScotlandWhisky, the national whisky tourism organisation, show 1,236,329 visitors toured a distillery in 2008, a small increase in numbers on the previous year.

And they spent more during their visits, with distillery centres seeing sales increase 12.2 % to £25million.

Chris Conway, of ScotlandWhisky, said: "Visiting a distillery remains one of the must-do' activities for tourists."

The number of visitors has held out strongly despite tourism agency VisitScotland reporting a 4.1% drop in the overall numbers touring Scotland in 2008.

Mr Conway said the £25m spent by whisky trippers reflects the investment distillers have made in their visitor centres over recent years.

"There is a real thirst for knowledge, with enthusiasts and novices alike wanting to learn as much as possible about the making of Scotch whisky," he added.

"Distillers continue to innovate to meet this demand and have introduced a whole selection of tours to satisfy consumers' growing interest in all aspects of Scotch.

"Many have also introduced in-depth masterclasses, which offer the public the chance to explore overlooked parts of distilleries and sample rare bottlings."

Two malt distilleries near Glasgow, Auchentoshan, near Erskine, and Glengoyne, near Strathblane, have visitor facilities.

Glengoyne has been used in TV shows, including comedy Still Game, and the cookery challenge programme Britain's Best Dish.

The city's whisky bars also attract a lot of tourists, with pubs such as the Pot Still, in Hope Street, which has won the Best Whisky Bar in the world title three times.

With Scotch positioned as a central pillar of this year's Homecoming celebrations, it is hoped these positive results will continue this year.

May has been named Whisky Month and a Spirit Of The West festival will be held at Inveraray Castle.

Article Courtesy of Glasgow Evening Times


Glasgow Evening Times

17 Mar

2 Rare Bottles of Springbank 1919 Sold

J & A Mitchell and Co Ltd, the owners of Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown have just sold 2 bottles of whisky distilled in 1919. Originally bottled in 1970, only 24 of these bottles of 50 year old Single Malt were ever produced.

Once listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most expensive bottle of whisky in the world, and with a retail price of £14,000, two of the remaining 3 bottles have been purchased by The World Whisky Index ( Based in The Netherlands, The World Whisky Index advises consumers on purchasing whisky, and particularly Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, as an investment.

The one remaining bottle of Springbank 1919 is available at £50,000.

Springbank Distillery is unique. It is the oldest independent family owned distillery in Scotland. Founded in 1828 on the site of Archibald Mitchell's illicit still, the Springbank Distillery is now in the hands of his great great grand son, Hedley G. Wright. Springbank is the only distillery in Scotland to carry out the full production process on the one site. 100% of the traditional floor malting, maturation and bottling is done at the distillery in Campbeltown.

It produces the most hand made whisky in Scotland, with traditional production methods being used throughout the process, and human involvement at each and every stage. It is the only distillery in Scotland to have never chill-filtered, nor do they add any artificial colourings to any of their single malts.

Springbank also produces three different single malts using different production techniques.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

17 Mar

The Famous Grouse raises tens of thousands for charity

The 250th anniversary of Robert Burns wasn’t simply a chance for thousands of revellers to enjoy a wee dram. The Famous Grouse, Scotland’s Number 1 whisky, helped many charities to enjoy a more prosperous 2009.

As a result, over £70,000 was raised by Burns Suppers around the world from auctioning The Famous Grouse limited edition blended whisky.

The Famous Grouse created 250 limited edition bottles of 37 year old blended malt to mark both Burns’ 250th birthday and the 37 years of his short but fruitful life. Renowned Scottish artist and playwright John Byrne was commissioned to create an original drawing of Robert Burns to adorn this limited edition whisky, making it a unique collector's item as part of The World Famous Burns Supper celebration. In keeping with the humanitarian spirit of Burns, these bottles were only available for Charity Auction. Each one was valued at a minimum of £400 but some were sold for over £1,200 and on one occasion £2,887 was raised.

Many Scottish charities incorporated these bottles into their fundraising efforts, with St. Columba’s Hospice in Edinburgh raising £5,000 alone. Appropriately, the Ayrshire Hospice, based in Burns’ birthplace, also benefited as did the Highland Hospice, Edinburgh Sick Kids Friends Foundation, MS Revive, Bowel Cancer UK, Alzheimer’s Research Trust and the Motor Neurone Disease Association to name but a few.

The goodwill was spread worldwide with many bottles being sent to Burns Suppers as far as Azerbaijan, China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Latvia and the Ukraine where some of the highest amounts of money have been raised for the bottles:

· The British Chamber of Commerce in Latvia was the location of a large Burns Supper where they raised £2,878 by holding a raffle for the limited edition of The Famous Grouse – the highest amount so far.

· Ex-pats in Balikpapan, Indonesia imported a Macsween haggis from Bali for 200 invited guests whilst they spread the word about Burns and Scotland raising £1200 from auctioning the bottle.

· It may be a long way from the highlands of Scotland but that didn't stop over 300 guests toasting Robert Burns at the British Chamber of Commerce's annual Burns supper in Shanghai. They raised £1,750 following a raffle for the limited edition.

Marie Christie, Project Director of Homecoming Scotland 2009, said;

“It is fantastic that so many companies and individuals from so many different countries took part in the Homecoming Scotland 2009 opening weekend celebrations by registering their own Burns Suppers as part of The World Famous Burns Supper celebration. With over 3, 600 Burns Suppers registered on the site we believe we have created a world record for the largest number of Burns suppers joined together in this way, and we hope that many of those that took part across the world will also join the celebrations in Scotland this year. There are more than 300 events and festivals planned as part of the Homecoming Scotland programme.”

Gerry O’Donnell, director of The Famous Grouse, commenting on this news: “This is a fantastic achievement. Given the Humanitarian spirit of Robert Burns it is great to see that The Famous Grouse has been so instrumental in helping people raise funds benefiting charities all over the world.”

To see photos and stories of how people celebrated Burns Night 2009, go to

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

16 Mar

Angela captures black bull for the bottle

Artist’s vision of menacing beast will help relaunch whisky overseas

A LIKENESS of a black bull that grazes in a Deeside field will grace bottles of whisky sold worldwide.

The label was revealed yesterday at the relaunch of Duncan Taylor and Co’s Black Bull brand at the whisky retailer’s shop at Huntly.

The firm commissioned Aberdeenshire artist Angela Davidson for the project.

Angela specialises in pictures of animals and chose to draw a bull in a field near Aboyne.

The artist, of Wardhouse, near Insch, said: “It was just one of those things. I noticed the black bull on my travels and always thought: I want to do a picture of it.”

The original picture now hangs in the office of Euan Shand, managing director of Duncan Taylor, which holds the trophy for best blended whisky from the International Wine and Spirit Competition.

He said: “We looked at what Angela did and loved the black bull. I wanted a really menacing one that looked really tough and she said she had one in mind.”

Events to relaunch the brand will take place in cities in the US, Europe and China.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

15 Mar

Bruichladdich targets the Chinese market

Islay-based whisky business' sales manager Andy Hogan says Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen could start huge opportunity

Bruichladdich Distillery Company, the independent Scotch whisky business, is targeting rapid growth in the Chinese market.

The Islay-based company, acquired by a group of private investors from the US-based Jim Beam Brands in 2000, will join a trade mission to China this month led by Jim Murphy, the secretary of state for Scotland, and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.

“The potential in China is enormous,” said Andy Hogan, Bruichladdich’s sales manager. “In the long term China is going to be one of the top five whisky markets in the world. It’s crucial we get established there as early as possible.”

If Hogan can set up two distribution agreements in China, he believes Bruichladdich should sell £25,000 of whisky, exclusive of duty, in China in its first year. The company will focus first on the metropolitan areas of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

He expects that sales in the country will grow by 25% per year and said Chinese consumers’ appetite for whisky is growing, with single malts showing the most rapid recent growth.

Bruichladdich’s unique selling proposition in China will be that it is not chill-filtered — meaning that aromatic oils and proteins are left in the liquid — that no caramel is added and that it is a 100% natural product, said Hogan. “I think this will strike a chord with Chinese consumers, who place great emphasis on natural ingredients in food and drink.”

He added: “We want to find partners who understand that we specialise in absolutely top-quality whisky.”

Hogan has already set up meetings with potential distributors in Shanghai. The distiller will return to Shanghai in May, when an event known as

Whisky Live is being held. Its focus is on matching smaller distillers such as Bruichladdich with distribution partners.

Bruichladdich’s made total profits worldwide of £1m on sales of £7.15m in 2008, making it one of the fastest-growing whisky companies.

Article Courtesy of The Times


The Times

13 Mar

SNP accused of ‘washing hands’ of whisky industry

Salmond faces fresh criticism over alcohol pricing plan

First Minister Alex Salmond was accused of “washing his hands” of the whisky industry by introducing controversial plans for minimum pricing.

He was challenged yesterday on why the SNP opposed tax increases on whisky at Westminster but proposed measures in Scotland that will push up the price of a bottle.

The Scottish Government’s controversial alcohol plans are in jeopardy over the way it plans to introduce legislation.

Ministers want to introduce minimum pricing and a ban on alcohol promotions through the use of secondary legislation that is put forward on a take-it-or leave it basis under the Licensing Act.

Plans to let licensing boards raise the minimum age for off-sales to 21 are included in primary legislation, the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, which will be dissected by MSPs.

Opposition business managers have warned the minority SNP Government that any plans to “circumvent” parliamentary scrutiny via the use of secondary legislation or regulations will be opposed.

At first minister’s questions in the Scottish Parliament, Liberal Democrat chief whip Mike Rumbles said that when the UK Government put up tax on whisky, the SNP used to say it was damaging, a betrayal and punitive.

The West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MSP added that, now he was in government, Mr Salmond had changed his mind and was pushing his plans through without parliamentary scrutiny.

Mr Salmond replied that the licensing act under which the regulation will be brought forward was introduced under now Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott, when he was in office in the previous administration, “so obviously it must have been a wise move”.

He said: “I disagree entirely with the argument that proposals for minimum pricing will hit the whisky industry, whisky will sell as a premium product. It is of course possible, and I remember my Westminster experience, to both oppose tax rises that go against quality brands of whisky and support minimum pricing for alcohol.”


Afterwards, Mr Rumbles said that when in opposition Mr Salmond opposed measures that would damage the industry and even tried to change the UK Budget.

“But now he’s settled in office, he’s washed his hands of the whisky industry,” he said. “If the first minister is so convinced that minimum pricing is right for Scotland, then he should open it up to democratic debate with this parliament and allow opposition amendments, rather than trying to sneak it through.”

A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association called Mr Salmond “very mistaken” in his views. “The industry is quite clear that these proposals are likely to be illegal under EU and international trade law and will risk damaging the industry both at home and abroad,” he said.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

13 Mar


Saturday 23rd May 2009

Tickets are now on sale for Whisky An' A' That VI, Ayrshire's biggest whisky festival which will be held on Saturday 23rd May 2008, at Ayr Town Hall, situated next to our popular and busy store in the Sandgate.

This years festival is our biggest yet with more than 18 major whisky companies exhibiting and over 100 whiskies on show, including Limited Edition and rare hard to find bottling's along with new releases, you will be spoiled for which whiskies you would like to sample.

Also attending on the day will be celebrity faces and guests from the whisky world, with various talks and displays being held in the whisky experience area.

Doors to the event open at 1pm and close at 6pm


So whether you are a connoisseur or novice you are guaranteed to be educated and entertained whilst being fully immersed in the world of whisky.

"A Dram good day out is guaranteed"

To reserve your tickets, email stating how many tickets you require, your name, full postal address, daytime and evening telephone numbers. We will then contact you by phone for payment details and ticket confirmation.

Alternatively you can phone the ticket hotline number and reserve your tickets.

Order yours today, as tickets are limited.


Please visit Robbies Drams for more information


Robbies Drams

13 Mar

Spirit of the West Launches Whisky Coast Memoirs Campaign

A new campaign inviting those from Scotland and the world to share their love for the west coast of Scotland has been launched by the Spirit of the West festival. With 10 weeks to go, the inaugural whisky, food and culture festival, presented by The Whisky Coast, Scotland’s West Coast Whisky Trail, will take place at Inveraray Castle this May and is part of Homecoming Scotland 2009’s Whisky Month. The campaign was launched at a Spirit of the West festival preview event at Loch Fyne Oysters.

In line with the festival’s celebration of west coast culture, the Whisky Coast Memoirs campaign invites people to send through their stories, experiences and passions for the nation’s west coast. The campaign aims to bring together a global appreciation of the region’s beauty, atmosphere and culture with a focus on Ayrshire & Arran, Argyll, Lochaber, the Hebrides and the North West Highlands. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, helped kick start the campaign with his own memoir of the west.

Mr Brown said: "Although I was born and bred in the East of Scotland, I have spent a lot of time in the Highlands of the West of Scotland. As a student, and even after I was elected to Parliament, I have walked in Skye, Kintail, the Hebrides, Argyllshire and Sutherland, often with parliamentary colleagues such as the late John Smith MP. I have many fond memories of days on the hill and in the glens; and of good hospitality and entertainment in the evenings, as often as not accompanied by a dram. I send best wishes to the organisers of Spirit of the West."

Jim Mather MSP, Jack McConnell MSP, John Lowrie Morrison (Jolomo), bagrock sensation the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, who will open the festival, and whisky folk singer Robin Laing also helped kick start the campaign with their own memoirs. The memoirs will be put on show for all festival goers to see at the live event in May. To take part in the campaign go to and visit the homepage for further details.

Nicky Murphy, Event Manager for Spirit of the West and Project Manager for the Whisky Coast said: “We are delighted that Mr Gordon Brown could share with us his own memoir of the west coast of Scotland. His contribution has really helped kick start our campaign and is greatly appreciated.”

She added: ““We are really looking forward to sharing our passion for whisky and celebrate the very fabric of the west coast this May with people from all over the UK and the world.”

Special guests, including the Duchess of Argyll, at the Spirit of the West festival preview event were entertained with whisky smuggling re-enactments by The Walking Theatre Company, a whisky tasting masterclass with whisky writer Charles Maclean and songs by Robin Laing. Each of these acts will feature at the festival which is set to be the flagship Homecoming Scotland 2009 event for the west coast and a signature event for the programme’s Whisky Month which was launched in February.

Marie Christie Project Director Homecoming Scotland 2009 said: “Whisky Month, which is a highlight of the Homecoming Scotland programme, gives us an opportunity to celebrate Scotland’s famous national drink as well as the unique whisky regions and culture it has inspired. Spirit of the West builds on the success of the Whisky Coast and will attract new visitors as well as whisky fans to the spectacular west coast of Scotland”.

Inspired by the blend of whisky, rugged coastlines and the dramatic atmosphere of Scotland’s west coast, the Spirit of the West festival will showcase the very heart of whisky culture with whisky, food & drink, history & heritage, music & drama and arts & crafts from across the region brought to one location. Join in the celebrations at Inveraray Castle on Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th May 2009 and be part of Homecoming Scotland 2009’s whisky month. Visit for more information. Spirit of the West tickets are now available to buy via

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

12 Mar

Alcohol price plans ‘benefit industry also’

Proposals would improve public health and boost takings, says academic

The alcohol industry could increase its profits under controversial proposals for minimum prices, according to a north-east academic.

Professor Anne Ludbrook said public health would improve as consumption fell, creating a “win-win” situation.

The Scottish Government wants to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol as part of efforts to tackle the social and health impact of high levels of consumption. The move is aimed at cheap drink promotions in supermarkets and off-sales premises

A figure of 40p per unit has been mooted – which would mean a bottle of wine costing £3.90, six cans of lager £4.22, a bottle of cider £6, a bottle of vodka £10.50 and a bottle of whisky £10.90.

Health economist Prof Ludbrook, of the health economics research unit at Aberdeen University, calculated that even at 30p a unit, the drinks industry would see profits increase by 68%, while they experienced up to a 30% decrease in sales of heavily discounted products.

“There is strong evidence that higher prices would reduce alcohol consumption,” she said. “Minimum pricing is one means of raising prices and my analysis has shown that this could be more beneficial to the industry than increasing duty.”

Her findings, announced at a conference in Edinburgh yesterday, countered industry fears about the government proposals.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “We will not shy away from introducing radical measures such as minimum pricing to get to grips with an alcohol misuse problem that’s costing £2.25billion annually.”

A study published by SABMiller, one of the world’s leading brewers, found that minimum pricing would reduce intake among heavy drinkers by just 2.3%.

It calculated the move would cost consumers £80million a year but save wider society less than £10million.

Ministers want to introduce minimum pricing and a ban on promotions using secondary legislation, or regulations, that cannot be amended and can only be approved or rejected in the Scottish Parliament.

Other aspects of their alcohol framework, such as allowing licensing boards to increase the legal age for off-sales to 21 and social responsibility fees, are to be included in the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, which is open to full scrutiny.

Opposition business managers at Holyrood have told the minority government that any attempt to “circumvent parliament” via the use of regulations will be rejected, throwing the whole alcohol strategy into doubt.

Lib Dem justice spokesman Robert Brown said: “Many aspects of the Scottish Government’s minimum pricing policy are hugely controversial. This underlines the need for a thorough examination of the plans.”

The Scotch Whisky Association said Prof Ludbrook’s research finding “defies belief”. A spokesman said: “A 30% reduction in consumption would wipe 7million bottles of scotch off the Scottish market, which is inconsistent with the claim that the government does not wish to harm the whisky industry.”

The Scottish Beer and Pub Association said it could not comment until it had studied the research in more detail.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

11 Mar

Whisky storage plan is almost matured

ANGUS COUNCILLORS are set to approve the storage at Brechin business park of 30,000 tonnes of a hazardous, flammable substance—whisky.

Hazardous substances consent is being sought by Angus Dundee Distillers, owners of Glencadam Distillery in Brechin, to store the whisky in new warehousing they are to build at the business park.

The Health and Safety Executive has assessed the risks to the surrounding areas and have concluded these are so small that there are no significant reasons, on safety grounds, for refusing hazardous substances consent.

No adverse comments have been received from Scottish Natural Heritage, the community council, Tayside Fire Brigade or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Angus Council’s director of infrastructure services has said there are no incompatible uses or proposals relating to land in the vicinity and has recommended approval.

When the development standards committee considers the application today, among the conditions it will be asked to impose is that the individual cells of the warehouses be constructed to provide at least 30 minutes fire resistance.

Article Courtesy of The Courier


The Courier

11 Mar

Single Malts from every year since 1952 – available by the glass!

March 2009 - A set of The Family Casks, is to go on sale by the glass, in Singapore’s ‘Malt Vault’. The Family Casks are a unique collection of 43 Single Cask whiskies, with one for each year from 1952 to 1994. Jim Murray named the collection the Best New Scotch Whisky of the Year - Multiple Casks - in his 2008 Whisky Bible.

Family owned and managed Glenfarclas launched The Family Casks, an exclusive collection of 43 vintage dated Single Cask Highland Malt Scotch Whiskies, in September 2007. The ‘Malt Vault’, part of the Screening Room, joins a select group of bars, to offer the entire collection. Only two other whisky bars in the world have the full collection permanently on display, and available by the dram; they are The Mash Tun in Aberlour, Speyside, and Bar Nemo, in Tokyo.

As Andrew Skene, Director of Spirit of Scotland Pte Ltd who imported The Family Casks for the ‘Malt Vault’ explained, ‘We’ve positioned the Malt Vault at the Screening Room, stocked with rare and limited bottlings, as a fitting place for whisky enthusiasts who might just be tired of the run-of-the-mill brands on the market, to uncover hidden gems. ‘Those in the know’ will know that Glenfarclas Single Malt exudes quality.’

Ian McWilliam, Sales & Marketing Executive for Glenfarclas who will unveil the collection on the 9th of March continued, ‘The entire collection retails for around GBP 16000, but even if you can’t afford the entire set just yet, a bottle, or a dram, of whisky distilled in the year of your birth has to be the ultimate birthday present for the whisky lover, and The Family Casks makes this possible for those born since 1952.’

Closer to home J. & G. Grant are pleased to advise that Glenfarclas 10 Years Old is now available from thirty Fullers Pubs across London and Birmingham. George Grant, sixth generation of the family that own and manage the distillery commented, ‘Glenfarclas and Fullers both have a heritage to be proud of, and I am sure Glenfarclas will be a fine addition to their back bar.’

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

10 Mar

Growing concerns over demand for malt barley

Producers are warned to think about other crops

Farmers were warned in the starkest terms yesterday not to grow malting barley unless they have a purchaser in advance of crops being planted.

NFU Scotland combinable crops committee chairman John Picken issued the plea as indicators point to the demand for malt plummeting by more than 150,000 tonnes this year because of the impact of the credit crunch on distillers and brewers.

Mr Picken, who farms near St Andrews, cautioned against speculative growing and urged farmers to think about other crops they can plant given the market situation.

Trade sources also backed up the union boss, saying contracted malting barley prices are likely to be upwards of £60 a tonne lower than last year. The first batch of contracts are offering a minimum of £130 a tonne – a price that has left many farmers less than enamoured.

The price fall and drop in demand from 695,000 tonnes last year to a likely 530,000 tonnes this season stems from economic woes that have seen sales of spirits and beers plummet globally.

A grain-trade spokesman said the change in the fortunes of distillers, brewers and maltsters in the space of 12 months had been stark.

He added: “A year ago there was euphoria. Every distiller and his dog were looking at ways of laying down more whisky stocks.

“But now we face a situation where distillers are cutting back on production. The euphoria has been replaced by, and I put this kindly, extremely nervous caution. They aren’t ordering the same malt as last year and the situation is probably going to knock their purchases for 2010, too.”

Buyers recognised the increased fertiliser and production costs faced by grain growers, but there was little they could do as they lived in a real world where demand had slowed.

Another trade source told the Press and Journal more contracts would appear in the coming weeks after what have been protracted deliberations by distillers and brewers on their actual grain purchases for the season ahead.

These internal debates have already resulted in advance grain orders being cut. He defended maltsters for the delay in issuing contracts, saying they had been caught in the middle and were unwilling to commit to purchases that may later be cut and for which they have no other home for.

He added: “We are seeing a decrease in demand and a knock-on effect back down the line. Farmers thought they were immune from this, but it is now affecting every part of the grain trade.”

Mr Picken said farmers were in a position of control as they ultimately decided the crops that were grown. Speculative growing could be dangerous, he cautioned, particularly if demand falls further.

Mr Picken said buyers would be able to control the market if growers planted too much barley. “They are worldly wise and they can pick us off. The advice would be not to put every free acre in spring barley and to think about growing something else.”

Mr Picken warned the premium for malting barley would fall to just £10 a tonne, a level at which many growers will endure losses.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

07 Mar

Whisky bosses criticise price plan


WHISKY bosses have warned that the Scottish Government’s proposal to impose a minimum price on alcohol will damage Moray’s multibillion-pound industry.

Michael Urquhart, director of Gordon and MacPhail malt whisky specialists, based in Elgin, said the move would place a barrier on international trading.

He believes foreign governments will increase their own import taxes if the Scottish Government imposes a minimum price on customers in Scotland.

“It has to be borne in mind that if you are taxing your own products privately in your own country it has a damaging effect on a billion-pound trade,” he said.

The Scottish whisky industry, which exports 90% of its products, raises £3billion in Customs and Excise duty for the UK Government.

Campbell Evans, director of government and consumer affairs at the Scotch Whisky Association, said the government’s plans would raise the price on a bottle of whisky in a market already experiencing difficulties.

“A minimum price has been indicated as 40p per unit of alcohol, raising the price to £11.20 when a typical bottle is £10.30 at the moment,” he said.

“We do not see how this meets international trade rules. It’s quite clear from statements on international trade rules from Geneva that you cannot have a minimum pricing structure that meets trade rules.”

Deputy Tory leader Murdo Fraser MSP advised First Minister Alex Salmond to “rein in Sturgeon and MacAskill before they did untold damage to one of Scotland’s biggest exports”.

An SNP spokesman said the claims of a 40p per unit of alcohol price structure were “purely hypothetical”.

Liberal Democrat MSPs Alison McInnes and Liam McArthur will visit Glen Grant distillery at Rothes tomorrow to voice concerns over the policy.

Moray SNP MP Angus Robertson described the proposal as a “shameless media stunt.”

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

07 Mar

Diners given a taste of new whisky festival

Theatre company re-enact show which will feature in Inveraray castle event

TALES of whisky smugglers hiding from the excisemen were brought to life in an Argyll glen yesterday as onlookers were given a taste of things to come at a new whisky festival.

The Spirit of the West whisky, food and culture festival will take place at Inveraray Castle on May 16 and 17, and is part of Homecoming Scotland 2009’s whisky month.

The Walking Theatre Company, set to bring history to life at the festival, re-enacted the smuggler tales at Loch Fyne Oysters restaurant near Inveraray.

Presented by The Whisky Coast, Scotland’s west coast whisky trail, Spirit of the West is set to be a spectacular weekend event. The tastes, sights and sounds of the west will all be included in themed marquees

The event which will feature a show-stopping opener from bagrock sensation the Red Hot Chilli Pipers; dishes with a whisky twist cooked up by celebrity Scottish chef Nick Nairn; Scotland’s leading whisky writer Charles Maclean, and folk/singer songwriter Robin Laing.

The Whisky Coast Marquee will play host to an impressive 16 world-famous west coast distillers.

Spirit of the West yesterday launched a campaign inviting people to share their love for Scotland’s west coast.

The Whisky Coast Memoirs campaign invites people to send through their stories, experiences and passions for the west coast.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown helped kick start the campaign with his own memoir of the west.

He said: “Although I was born and bred in the East of Scotland, I have spent a lot of time in the Highlands of the west of Scotland. As a student, and even after I was elected to parliament, I have walked in Skye, Kintail, the Hebrides, Argyllshire and Sutherland, often with parliamentary colleagues such as the late John Smith MP.

“I have many fond memories of days on the hill and in the glens and of good hospitality and entertainment in the evenings, as often as not accompanied by a dram. I send best wishes to organisers of Spirit of the West.”

To take part in the campaign go to

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

06 Mar

World’s biggest whisky collection arrives at new home

Thousands of heritage bottles – and their contents – will go on display to visitors

THE world’s largest collection of historic whiskies arrived at its new home in the Scottish capital yesterday after being shipped in from South America.

The 3,384 bottles are now being unpacked, cleaned and catalogued at Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky Experience where they will go on public display later this year.

The collection, built up over more than 35 years by Brazilian businessman Claive Vidiz, has been bought by drinks company Diageo.

It was shipped to Scotland from Brazil last year and was kept in secure storage until yesterday, when it arrived at the Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile.

The collection will be on long-term loan to the visitor attraction, which is undergoing a £3million refurbishment, and it will be housed in a specially-made vault.

Alastair McIntosh, deputy chairman of the Scotch Whisky Experience, said: “The whole team is incredibly excited to receive this collection and it’s all hands on deck to unpack, catalogue and clean every one of the 3,384 bottles.”

Mr McIntosh added: “This collection will be the jewel in the crown of our new tour and we look forward to welcoming visitors from all over the world to see it in its new home.”

Diageo’s heritage archive manager Christine McCafferty helped to unpack the bottles yesterday.

She said: “We are delighted to have brought this wonderful collection safely back to Scotland.”

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

03 Mar

Whisky trade warns MSPs ‘illegal’ pricing plans would harm exports

Tayside Police and licensing boards welcome prospect of more powers to deal with drink crime

The Scottish Government has been warned that it would be in breach of EU and international trade laws if it introduces minimum pricing for alcoholic drinks.

The Scotch Whisky Association has called on ministers to drop the controversial plans because they would act as a barrier to trade and undermine the export market, which is worth around £3billion a year.

The association claimed the move would have damaging consequences for whisky at home and abroad by encouraging discriminatory restrictions which would be justified on the basis of Scotland’s own violation of international rules.

Chief executive Gavin Hewitt said: “We agree that attitudes to alcohol in Scotland need to change – but minimum pricing is not the answer.

“It is hard to believe any Scottish government would bring forward proposals that are likely to be both illegal in international trade law and risk damaging the whisky industry.”

In contrast, Tayside Police, with licensing boards in Inverness and Aberdeen, welcomed the prospect of having the power to stop retailers selling alcohol to under-21s.

The SNP is proposing to make it a legal obligation on boards to consider whether restrictions should be placed on retailers in trouble hotspots.

Police chiefs would be able to ask for the measures to be introduced at any time.

Justine Curran, deputy chief constable of Tayside Police, said: “We welcome any proposal that helps to protect our communities from problems directly linked to drinking too much, such as antisocial behaviour, violence and domestic abuse.

“This is a difficult problem to deal with effectively, but by having as many options as possible available to public services and communities, we can develop tailored solutions for problems in particular areas.

“Young people drinking and becoming involved in antisocial behaviour can be a real issue in some areas, so the age restriction would be helpful in addressing those problems.”

Bill Cormie, a member of Aberdeen Licensing Board, welcomed the proposal. He said it would be more effective than a blanket ban across Scotland and the city, which is home to thousands of students.

“Giving boards this power would be a good idea because we have local knowledge and work closely with the police already,” said the SNP councillor.

Inverness Licensing Board chairman Peter Corbett said: “We would welcome any measures available to us to deal with alcohol problems.”

A source close to the Scottish Government said proposals to increase the off-sales age limit to 21 and introduce a social responsibility fee would require new primary legislation.

He added that other measures such as minimum pricing and tackling promotions would require to be done via the licensing act.

A spokesman for Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “We are entirely confident that our minimum pricing proposals are within the competence of the parliament.

“They are focused on the deep discounting of high-strength, low-cost beers and cider, and certainly not our high-quality premium whisky products, which will be unaffected.”

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

02 Mar

Whisky leader attacks minimum pricing plans

Scotland's plans for minimum pricing for alcoholic drinks are likely to breach both EU and international trade law, the Scotch Whisky Association has warned.

The SWA joins a chorus of voices opposing the ruling SNP's plans to introduce minimum pricing as part of wider efforts to curb problem drinking.

Other measures include local flexibility to raise the legal purchasing age to 21, banning price promotions, and restrictions on the display of alcohol within stores.

The SWA said: "International rules and case-law suggest that minimum retail prices for alcohol act as a barrier to trade.

"The introduction of a trade barrier to imports in Scotland through minimum pricing would have damaging consequences for Scotch whisky overseas, encouraging discriminatory restrictions against whisky, justified on the basis of Scotland's own violation of international rules.

"This would undermine the industry's nearly £3bn a year export trade."

Chief executive Gavin Hewitt added: "We agree that attitudes to alcohol in Scotland need to change, but minimum pricing is not the answer.

"It is hard to believe any Scottish Government would bring forward proposals that are likely to be both illegal in international trade law and risk damaging the whisky industry."

He accused the Scottish Government of using secondary legislation to bring in the proposals, "preventing the full debate on the consequences of minimum pricing which such a damaging proposal deserves".

Article Courtesy of Harpers


February 2009 Scotch Whisky News

28 Feb

Businesses are the toast of whisky industry

Two moray firms recognised at awards ceremony in London

THE Moray whisky industry has received worldwide recognition after two businesses bagged awards at an annual ceremony.

The BenRiach Distillery Company, which has been producing single malt since 1898, picked up an Icon of Whisky award at a ceremony in London.

An 113-year-old shop at Elgin, Gordon & MacPhail, picked up the Global Whisky Retailer of the Year title in the single outlet category.

The awards, which were hosted by Whisky Magazine, aim to recognise the very best from all areas of the industry.

BenRiach managing director Billy Walker said it was a huge boost for everybody at the firm.

“We are delighted to be recognised by such a prestigious whisky publication. The award reflects the incredibly hard work of our team,” he said.

The distillery is no stranger to awards, having picked up top titles in the 2007 Malt Advocate Whisky Awards and a gold medal at the 2006 International Wines and Spirits Competition.

Gordon & MacPhail joint managing director David Urquhart also paid tribute to his staff at the store in South Street.

He said: “Winning this award is testament to our terrific team at the shop and their commitment to delivering the best possible service to customers from throughout the world.”

The specialist retailer, which was established at Elgin in 1895, stocks over 800 different whiskies and has remained independent and family-owned throughout its history.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

27 Feb

£7m gift to charity left by whisky fortune heir

Tributes have been paid to a "modest and frugal" spinster after it emerged she had donated more than £7m to charity.

Phyllis Cattanach was the only surviving member of an Edwardian whisky family who lived in the Highlands.

The Cattanachs, originally from Largs, moved north in 1926. Miss Cattanach's father, Lorimer, made his fortune in whisky and retired to Grantown-on-Spey where he built a prestigious family home which he named Kirkton.

The Cattanach family lived at Kirkton where they were looked after by a staff that included a cook and maids.

Born in May 1917, Miss Cattanach - who never married and had no children - founded The Cattanach Trust in 1992, a charity which donates money to a variety of good causes but currently focuses on helping children from deprived backgrounds.

She died in May last year just days before her 91st birthday.

Described as a very "private lady", Miss Cattanach had a lifelong commitment to the support of charitable causes.

Last night, warm tributes were paid to her after it was revealed she had left instructions for her wealth to be used to help others after her death.

Her recently published will revealed she left a total of £9.3m. Miss Cattanach gifted £250,000 to the Church of Scotland, a total of £580,000 to family and friends, and £10,000 to the Dulnain Bridge Rifle Club in Grantown-on-Spey.

But she ordered that the remainder of her estate - which is expected to be around £7.3m after taxes - should be given to the Trust and put to good causes.

Last night Lord Maclay, chairman of the trustees, said: "Miss Cattanach was a remarkable person; an intensely private person, unassumingly modest and frugal and she was held in affection by all who knew her well.

"It was an act of great generosity and foresight on her part that lead to the formation of the Cattanach Charitable Trust in her lifetime.

"And the giving of the bulk of her wealth to the Trust will, I believe, be an enduring and lasting legacy of her vision."

Lord Maclay said the main beneficiaries of Miss Cattanach's legacy would be young children from deprived backgrounds,.

He added: "We in the Trust will do our best to make sure that the money is put to the best possible use and especially where there is found to be the greatest need."

Iain Grimmond, the General Treasurer of the Church of Scotland, also recognised Miss Cattanach's generosity.

He said: "We are always grateful to our members for their generosity in leaving legacies which benefit the work of the church locally, nationally and globally."

Article Courtesy of The Herald


The Herald

26 Feb

Golfer Graeme McDowell comes to Dumbarton to blend whisky at Ballantine's

REIGNING Scottish Open Champion, Graeme McDowell, made a splash when he arrived in Dumbarton to blend his own whisky.

McDowell, who also won the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea last year, enjoyed two days at the whisky firm’s Kilmalid site in the town last week.

The pint-sized pro spent time with master blender Sandy Hyslop in creating a special blended Scotch.

“It was fantastic to return to the home of golf, close to Loch Lomond, where I won the Scottish Open last year,” he said.

The opportunity to be involved in such a special project and learn so much from an expert such as Sandy was a great privilege. I am certainly looking forward to a dram, should I manage to successfully defend my title in April.”

The unique 35-year-old blend will be presented to the winner of this year’s Ballantine’s Championship – which McDowell will defend on the Korean island of Jeju from April 23 to 26.

McDowell also got the chance to nose a selection of extremely rare whisky samples, some of which were over 40 years old.

The 35-year-old blend will be available in very limited quantities and will be launched ahead of this year’s Ballantine’s Championship in Korea.

Article Courtesy of Lennox Herald


Lennox Herald

25 Feb

Alex Salmond entices Americans to Scotland with whisky

First Minister Alex Salmond has urged whisky-loving Americans to come to Scotland and "join us for a dram".

A month-long celebration of Scotch whisky is taking place in May as part of this year's Homecoming events.

It is anticipated this could attract some 30,000 people, with distilleries also expected to see a rise in visitor numbers.

And in a speech in Washington DC last night Mr Salmond called on US whisky aficionados to come to Scotland to join in the celebrations.

His speech, at a reception hosted by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), also highlighted the importance of the American market for whisky exports.

In terms of value, the US is the Scotch whisky industry's largest export market, with exports of the drink there worth an estimated £375 million in 2006.

Mr Salmond said: "With over a billion bottles of premium Scotch enjoyed across the world each year, the true international appeal of whisky has never been in doubt.

"Scotland's whisky is not only an excellent icon of quality and distinction of Scotland's produce - it plays a vital role in sustainable economic growth."

He went on: "Today the Scotch whisky industry continues to enjoy a strong and prosperous relationship with the United States. In terms of value, the United States is the industry's largest export market.

"In 2007, over 120 million bottles of whisky left Scottish distilleries to arrive here on these shores. That is about four bottles of Scotch every second of every day of the year.

"Whisky Month presents a fantastic opportunity for us to celebrate Scotland's famous national drink. With its wealth of distilleries and its scenic majesty I hope that thousands of visitors will join us for a dram this year and enjoy the spirit of Scotland in our Year of Homecoming 2009."

Meanwhile Mr Salmond came under fire for another speech he made during his trip to Washington, in which he called for Scotland to be independent.

Speaking at Georgetown University the First Minister had said: "We know that only with full responsibility for our destiny can we make Scotland an even better nation."

But Tory leader Annabel Goldie claimed he had abused his position.

In a letter to Mr Salmond she told him: "In giving a lecture in Georgetown on independence you have once again abused your position as First Minister.

"There is no majority for independence in Scotland. Indeed, opinion polls consistently show that separation from the rest of the United Kingdom is a minority aspiration.

"As First Minister you speak for all of Scotland, not merely as the leader of one of Scotland's minority parties and it would be a gross distortion for you to imply otherwise."

Article Courtesy of The Herald


The Herald

24 Feb

Scot who took whisky to the States

AS AMERICANS celebrated the anniversary of George Washington’s birth yesterday (22/02), Scots should have raised a glass or two to the man who is regarded as the ‘Father of American Whisky’.

Fifer James Anderson is credited with introducing whisky to the Yanks after he emigrated there in the 1790s.

The Scot landed a job with former US president George Washington and the pair set up the States’ first distillery together.

Now another whisky company has sprung up in the very house Anderson and his family set sail from over two hundred years ago.

The Spencerfield Spirit Company produces and distributes two brands of whisky across the world - Sheep Dip, a blended malt, and Pig’s Nose, a deluxe blend.

And the fledgling company is already making waves in the whisky industry by appearing in the new Jamie Oliver magazine, selling over 60,000 bottles of their product a year and having A-list Hollywood star Kiefer Sutherland as a fan.

Born in 1745 - the year of the second Jacobite Rebellion – James Anderson emigrated from Inverkeithing in Fife with his wife and seven children in 1791.

The Scots farmer and distiller set sail from Spencerfield Farm on the banks of the Forth and when he arrived in the US six months later he began his new life farming in Virginia.

By 1795, Anderson was distilling whisky near Fredericksburg, Virginia, and two years later he started working for America’s first ever President, George Washington, at his Mount Vernon plantation.

Within weeks of arriving at Mount Vernon, Anderson had convinced his new employer to open up his very own distillery.

And by 1799, Washington was producing over 10,000 gallons of rye whisky a year in a state-of-the-art distillery.

Historians believe that Anderson used larger distilleries in Scotland, such as the one at Spencerfield Farm, as a model for the Mount Vernon operation.

Washington’s own correspondence records: “Mr. Anderson has engaged me in a distillery, on a small scale, and is very desirous of encreasing (sic) it: assuring me from his own experience in this county…”.

And personal letters also reveal Washington’s respect for Anderson - although it is thought the two men did have their differences.

On 11 June, 1798, Washington wrote: “I believe you are a man of strict integrity; sobriety, industry & zeal.”

Today, the Mount Vernon distillery is widely-regarded as a US national historic monument, and Spencerfield Spirit is proud of its deep-rooted association.

Wife Jane, 51, said: “We are extremely proud of our association with James Anderson and all he contributed to the Scottish whisky industry.

“There’s no doubt that it was he who introduced the drink to the US.

“There were small distilleries all over Fife at the time and he obviously saw an opportunity when arrived in Virginia.

“His stroke of luck occurred when he managed to get a job on Washington’s farm and, seemingly, the pair became quite good friends.

“We’ve been in business for just over three years now and to be honest we had no idea about the connection until we started looking into the history of the house.

“It was such a wonderful surprise to discover the truth surrounding the house and the influence Anderson has had over the promotion of our national drink.

“It seems apt that we have set up our business here and hopefully we can go on and have as much success as Anderson did.

Spencerfield House has long had a connection with whisky as in 1651 Oliver Cromwell and his troops were billeted at the farmhouse after routing Scottish Royalists at the Battle of Inverkeithing.

As they celebrated with a dram or three, the soldiers accidentally set fire to their own gunpowder kegs – blowing the east wing of the house clean off.

The house was ransacked before the soldiers left, and according to the historian Reverend William Stephen, they departed with “a great quantity of silver plate, arras, hangings, carpets and other household plenishing”.

Article Courtesy of Deadline Scotland


Deadline Scotland

23 Feb

Benriach in running for global malt award

THE BENRIACH Distillery Company will hear on Thursday (February 26) if it has won a prestigious international whisky award to add to its growing list of achievements.

The Elgin distillery, with its headquarters in Larbert, Central Scotland, has won through to represent Scotland at the "Icons of Whisky" awards in London.

Organised by Whisky Magazine with the aim of celebrating the finest whiskies of the world, "Icons of Whisky" seeks to find the best distiller of the year worldwide from distilleries in Scotland, Ireland, the USA and Japan.

Earlier this year, BenRiach, in the heart of Speyside, was selected by an independent panel of experts as the Scottish winner.

The “Icons”, launched six years ago, are a highlight in the whisky calendar and are designed to celebrate the people and places behind the greatest whiskies in the world.

Headed by MD Billy Walker, the BenRiach team is delighted to be the Scottish 2009 "Distiller of the Year" and just one step away from further international recognition.

"Given the international nature of the awards, to be the Scottish winner is a tremendous honour. To be selected ahead of much larger distillers suggests we are doing something right and punching above our weight,” said Regional Sales Director Alistair Walker.

“It would be the culmination of a glorious five-year rollercoaster ride if BenRiach were to be named global winner on Thursday night.”

Billy Walker and his team have already won a number of top industry awards.

BenRiach was “Distillery of the Year” in the 2007 Malt Advocate Whisky Awards.

Whisky Magazine named it the “Best Rare Speyside” (for BenRiach Authenitcus 21 Year Old) at its World Whisky Awards, also in 2007.

And it won Gold Medal (for BenRiach 16 year old) plus silver (BenRiach Heart of Speyside, 12 year old, Curiositas and Authenticus) at the 2006 International Wines and Spirits Competition.

The BenRiach distillery has been producing quality single malt Scotch whisky since 1898. Five years ago it was acquired by Billy Walker, Geoff Bell and Wayne Kieswetter.

Today, in addition to the superb aged bottlings at 12, 16, 20, 25 and 30 years old, the company also includes two peated single malt expressions within the portfolio - the aptly-named 'Curiositas', aged 10 years old, and its big brother, the 21 years old 'Authenticus’.

Last year, BenRiach completed the acquisition of GlenDronach Distillery, a move widely regarded in the industry as the awakening of a sleeping giant.

The “Icons of Whisky” Grand Final will be held in London on the eve of “Whisky Live” on the evening of Thursday February 26.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

22 Feb

Hangover-free whisky

AN AUSSIE drinks company has come up with the perfect gift for Scots – a hangover-free whisky.

Naked Scot is distilled on the Isle of Mull and its makers claim the blend will have barely any effect on the head in the morning if drunk to excess.

Australian firm ASM Liqueur says their whisky is free from herbicides, pesticides and fungicides.

But the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is furious at the implication that other whiskies do contain pesticides.

Sold in a cylindrical glass bottle embossed with a map of Scotland and finished off with a tartan screw top, Naked Scot is not yet widely available in Scotland but is expected to become one of the top-selling brands Down Under.

Julian Moss, ASM’s chief executive, said: “Consumers have very little choice and frequently pay a premium for poor quality products.”

Launched last month, the hangover-free whisky is creating a buzz among aficionados at the Edinburgh Whisky Blog.

One reviewer wrote: “The company’s plan seems to be to avoid chemicals to improve your hangover experience. As I am suffering a particularly brutal hangover today, I believe this is a noble cause.

“I guess the problem is that the hangover is generally the product of dehydration, lack of salt/sugar and being haunted by something that happened the night before. Even so, every little helps, right?”

But fuming officials at the SWA described the Australian company’s claims as “inaccurate and misleading”.

A spokesperson said: “The claim is misleading because the science of distillation means there is no question of ‘residual herbicides, pesticides and fungicides’ being in any bottle of Scotch whisky.”

The group also added there is some doubt over whether Naked Scot is a single malt or a blend.

The spokesperson said: “It is a good example of why the new Scotch whisky regulations – which should be implemented later this year – are needed to avoid consumer confusion.

“The regulations will require that it is made clear on the label the category of Scotch whisky.”

And health experts have warned that pesticides and other chemicals have little impact on hangovers.

The major cause of a hangover is dehydration - which can trigger headaches, a dry mouth and have a damaging effect on the stomach causing nausea.

Article Courtesy of Deadline Scotland


Deadline Scotland

20 Feb

£9m distillery project completed

Mansell’s Elgin office behind Macallan development

THE Elgin office of construction company Mansell has completed a £9million project at the Macallan Distillery, near Craigellachie.

The development, which took 12 months, saw Mansell build two warehouses – which are each able to hold 20,000 casks of whisky – in addition to carrying out all associated services, drainage infrastructure, sprinkler installation, groundwork and landscaping.

The two buildings are part of plans for an overall new warehouse complex, which will be developed over the next few years.

Graham MacWilliam, general manager, distillation, at the Edrington Group, said: “The creation of our new warehouse site at the Macallan is a very visible sign of growth of the brand.

“It is a significant investment and this clearly demonstrates the Edrington Group’s confidence in the future of Scotch whisky and, in particular, the Macallan.”

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

19 Feb

Cheers – as whisky firm invest in £1m in bottling

BURN Stewart Distillers Limited have recently invested over £1 million in new bottling facilities at their headquarters in East Kilbride and four new stills at Deanston distillery, near Doune in Perthshire.

This major investment has come as a result of demand for the company’s portfolio of whiskies.

In particular, Scottish Leader is one of the fastest growing whisky brands in the world.

Among the company’s biggest export markets is Taiwan where Scottish Leader is now the number one Standard Blended Scotch brand and South Africa where the company have enjoyed 21 per cent year on year growth. Scottish Leader is a strong contender in Scotland with a 23 per cent increase in value in trade and is the third biggest brand.

Burn Stewart Distillers managing director Fraser Thornton said: “We recognised this investment was crucial to the future growth of the business. With demand growing in existing and new markets, we are now in a strong position to fulfil this requirement globally.”

The new line will allow an increased bottling capacity from 170 to 215 70cl bottles per minute, providing a total capacity of 84,000 bottles per day. Burn Stewart now have eight bottling lines with an overall capacity of two million cases per year.

As well as being producers of Scottish Leader, other whiskies produced include Black Bottle, Bunnahabhain, Deanston, Tobermory and Ledaig.

Article Courtesy of East Kilbride News


East Kilbride News

18 Feb

Weighing up traceable consistency for Whisky

A throughput weighing system from Avery Weigh-Tronix has helped improve production efficiency and quality for Glen Moray’s whisky distillery. It measures batches of malted barley to an accuracy of 99 percent and provides traceable data to monitor production and to meet the requirements of Customs and Excise.

In common with all scotch whiskies only three ingredients are used; malted barley, water and yeast. The most expensive and important ingredient in the process is the malted barley.

In addition, the Glen Moray distillery has to provide accurate and traceable records of the malted barley used to Customs and Excise.

Says Graham Coull, distillery manager: “The price of barley is now very expensive so we must extract the maximum amount of sugar from it for fermentation. We need an accurate and reliable weighing system to ensure that we can monitor efficiency. Malted barley can vary in character from batch to batch so it is essential that we have accurate information about exactly how much of each batch we are using.

“The Avery Weigh-Tronix system also means that we don’t need to rely on manual records and paperwork. It is faster and easier for the operative to use with no chance of error. It helps us to become more efficient and concentrate on other areas to improve our whisky.”

The system uses a P911 throughput weigher. This uses high-resolution technology to provide accurate bulk weighing of free flowing solids. An E1310 programmable indicator from Avery Weigh-Tronix controls the system. This collects and records data and can interface with a PC and other software applications.

Article Courtesy of Process & Control Today


Process & Control Today

17 Feb

Edrington Group to launch more whisky brands in India

New Delhi: Unperturbed by the economic slowdown, the Edrington Group, maker Famous Grouse whisky, is planning to launch more brands in India and step up promotional campaigns, a senior official said Tuesday.

"We will be launching the Snow Grouse and Black Grouse in the coming fiscal, both priced tentatively around Rs.1,700," group area director (Southeast Asia, Africa and Indian subcontinent) Geoff Kirk told IANS.

Explaining the company's decision to go ahead with the investment plans despite the slowdown, Kirk said India was still a "growing market".

"There is a slowdown undoubtedly, but it has resulted in lower growth rates and not a reversal of growth. The Indian market might not grow at 25 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) as it did over the past four-five years, but it will still be a growing market," he said.

Famous Grouse hopes to capture a sizeable chunk of the estimated 1.2-million-case Indian market.

"We will launch our premium single malt whisky brands - Macallan and Highland Park - priced over Rs.3,500, soon," Kirk added.

Most imported liquor labels attract central and state excise levies to the tune of almost 300 percent of the cost of a bottle.

Said Gerry O'Donnell, director of Famous Grouse: "We are talking to the federal and state governments to rationalise the taxes and are hopeful in persuading them to do so like we did in China. It's ultimately going to be beneficial to the Indian consumer."

Article Courtesy of New Kerala


New Kerala

15 Feb

Whisky brands key performers

The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal hailed by owner Pernod Ricard

The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal whiskies were among the star “strategic brand” performers for French drink giant Pernod Ricard in the six months to December 31.

The Glenlivet single malt achieved volume growth of 7% and net organic sales growth of 12% and premium blend Chivas Regal saw volume growth of 4% and sales growth of 6% during the period compared with an average of 1% in volume and 6% in sales growth for the group’s 14 strategic brands.

The top brands also include Ballantine’s whisky, Martell cognac, Beefeater gin, Jameson Irish whiskey and Mumm champagne.

Pernod Ricard said yesterday that all regions experienced double-digit percentage growth in profits from recurring operations.

It said there had been a remarkable 23% growth in Asia/rest-of-world sales, particularly because of vigorous sales of Martell and Ballantine’s in China and local brands in India.

The group said foreign-exchange and group-structure effects enhanced the growth of the Americas region, which achieved a spectacular 46% increase.

Sales were in slight decline in the US in a more difficult market, adversely affected by inventory reductions by retailers, whereas Latin America had a very good first half year and the Canadian market also grew.

In Europe, organic growth was generated by eastern Europe with “good progress” in Germany and Sweden, but things were more difficult in Spain, the UK and Italy.

The contribution of Absolut and Vin and Sprit’s operations in Nordic countries resulted in a sharp overall increase in profit from recurring operations.

Pernod Ricard said that in France, growth from Ballantine’s, Mumm and Clan Campbell whisky’s commercial performance was accelerated by good control of structure costs and currency movements, especially the depreciation of sterling.

Pernod Ricard reported sales for the half-year of £3.79billion, up 13%, and net profits of £616.5million, 15% improved on a year earlier.

The group said that although visibility was limited for the second half of the year, it expected the wine and spirit sector would continue to show excellent resilience, and it should gain market share in many countries, as it did during the first half.

It said that for the full year it aimed to achieve strong organic growth in profits from recurring operations of between 5% and 8%.

Chief executive Pierre Pringuet said: “We confirm our guidance for double-digit percentage growth in group net profits from recurring operations, which for the first time should exceed 1billion euros (£900million) over the full 2008-09 financial year.”

Pernod Ricard said that expansion plans at The Glenlivet distillery on Speyside had been driven by a global increase in demand for The Glenlivet. The distillery expansion is expected to be completed later this year.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

14 Feb

Balvenie launches virtual whisky shelf

Whisky aficionados are being encouraged to create a virtual whisky shelf on the Balvenie website.

The new facility allows malt drinkers to replicate their collections online, as well as to assemble a line-up of brands that they would like to sample.

Malt whisky fans who sign up to Warehouse 24 can list, rate and share notes on thousands of different single malts. Members can also compare notes with some renowned whisky experts, who have already created their own whisky shelves on

Brand ambassador David Mair said: "As well as all the things you'd expect to find on a whisky distillery website, we crafted our new site and the whisky shelf with the malt enthusiast in mind.

"We're obviously delighted when The Balvenie is a drinker's favourite, but we know that malt enthusiasts will try many different whiskies in their lifetime and collectors can amass hundreds of single malt whiskies, meaning keeping track of all your tasting notes can be tricky."

Article Courtesy of Harpers



13 Feb

Sales slowing at drink giant Diageo

Global group says Johnnie Walker whisky among major brands hit by downturn

Demand for iconic whisky brand Johnnie Walker has taken a knock in its biggest market, America, amid the global economic woes.

Maker Diageo – the world’s largest drink group – said yesterday the financial turmoil had caused a sharp slowdown in sales across the company, although half-year earnings were up by 21% to 45.6p a share.

The firm – whose other whiskies include blended varieties Bell’s, Benmore, Buchanan’s, Black & White, Haig, Spey Royal, Vat 69 and White Horse, and a host of single and classic malt brands – slashed its forecast for annual profits and launched a cost-saving programme.

A spokeswoman for the UK group, which has just invested £40million in a new distillery at Roseisle, in Moray, said this would mean job losses next year but was unable to say how many or where.

In a sign the group suffered a difficult festive period, Diageo reported year-on-year net sales growth of 3% to £5.1billion in the six months to the end of December – down from an increase of 6% during the first quarter of the period. Sales of flagship brand Johnnie Walker to the US declined 1% by volume and 3% in value year-on-year over the six months.

Diageo said: “The Scotch category declined as consumers traded out of super premium and deluxe segments.”

Despite the downturn in US sales, Johnnie Walker – the world’s top selling whisky brand – gained 0.4 percentage points of the total American market share. Worldwide volume of Johnnie Walker was down 6% but net sales by value rose 5%, driven by price increases.

Diageo – also the maker of Smirnoff vodka and Guinness stout – added that sales growth across the group was slowing markedly, particularly in Europe.

Chief executive Paul Walsh said he had confidence in the business but added that the outlook was more difficult to predict for the second half of the group’s trading year.

He now expects growth in underlying profits of between 4% to 6%, compared with his earlier prediction of 7% to 9%. Mr Walsh said: “The global economic slowdown has affected business in the period and in November and December this impact was more pronounced.

“Current economic trends indicate that consumer confidence will reduce further.”

A lukewarm European beer market and poor sales in Spain drove sales down 3% in the region.

UK beer drinkers were cutting down – resulting in a 1% drop in net sales – but Guinness achieved its highest share of the market to date, with 24 consecutive months of growth.

Diageo said strong spirit sales partly offset declines elsewhere in the UK.

Across all regions, it said new brands, primarily premium vodka Ketel One, contributed £97million to net sales and £46million to operating profits.

Mr Walsh said the group would be yet more agile in the second half and expected to implement a restructuring programme to generate £100million of savings next year.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

13 Feb

Whisky distiller buys new site

PREMIUM whisky distiller Glenmorangie's plans to build a multimillion-pound bottling and office facility in West Lothian took a step forward yesterday when the company announced that it had agreed a deal to buy an 11-acre site for the development.

The acquisition of the site in Livingston from Edinburgh-based Miller Developments is conditional on the distiller securing detailed planning consent from West Lothian Council.

The cost of the site for the planned facility at the Alba Business Park in Livingston has not been disclosed. However, the company says it will form a key part of its £45m investment programme which also involves relocating its headquarters to Edinburgh and a major revamp at the Highland distillery where the brand is made.

The company says 120 staff will be employed at the new bottling facility.

It is expected the majority of employees at Glenmorangie's existing facilities in Broxburn will relocate to Livingston, seven miles away, when construction of the new facility is completed in the summer of 2010.

Article Courtesy of The Herald


The Herald

12 Feb

Growers still in dark over malt prices

Producers at conference given clear analysis of market but are left in limbo over returns

Malting barley growers left a conference in Edinburgh yesterday still not knowing the price they will receive for this year's crop.

The only guarantee Greencore Malt commercial director Adrian Dyter gave was that prices would be below the £165 a tonne that it is claimed farmers need to break even.

Growers have for weeks been calling on the Scotch whisky distillers and their maltster suppliers to declare their hand so that they can decide if the crop is going to be worthwhile to plant or not.

Mr Dyter did, however, use the event to give a clear analysis of a malting market where the fundamentals are strong with investment in distilleries under way for the first time in decades.

But he warned: “If there is a health warning here it circles around changes in the world economy affecting demand."

Mr Dyter also noted the planned increase in malting capacity. Bairds Malt at Arbroath will have 57,000 tonnes of extra capacity by January 2010, Greencore at Buckie has just added 19,000 tonnes, while Simpsons at Berwick will have another 80,000 tonnes of capacity on stream by this May. That all adds up to 156,000 tonnes of extra malt and a matching feedstock of 195,000 tonnes of barley.

In 2008 the demand in Scotland from end users was 695,000 tonnes of malt and the supply available was only 610,000 tonnes. With the market fundamentals so strong the question is being asked just why maltsters are so hesitant about issuing prices and contracts.

Mr Dyter maintained contracts were no slower to appear than usual. He also stressed time and again the uncertainty and risks in a volatile world market.

“Risk management has to be shared along the supply chain. I cannot offer fixed prices for all my barley requirements simply because I cannot sell all the malt at a fixed price. But I do know we will want a good supply of quality barley,” he said.

Mr Dyter added: “Ultimately, the price will be the market price but contracts will offer different elements. There will be a fixed price for the proportion which can be sold on at a fixed price. Remember we are facing levels of volatility in global markets unheard of previously.”

Turriff-based agronomist Bryan Chalmers, of Allathan Associates, asked why maltsters were not locking in tonnages for the extra malting capacity, adding: “Growers have big increases in input costs and it is really inexcusable to be sitting here in February without contracts or indications of price.”

But Mr Dyter rejected the complaint, saying the lack of contracts was a smokescreen and that Scottish market was not isolated. “Malting premiums are well known and publicised from large markets such as the south of England and particularly France. These should help you to take a view.”

HGCA crop marketing director Alastair Dickie suggested growers should look harder at the price of feed grains to give themselves an idea of the base value to which malting premiums would be added.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

10 Feb

A Taste of Romance from The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Love is in the air at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society as it marks Valentine’s Day with the launch of ‘A Chocolate Valentine’ special bottling to celebrate the most romantic day of the year.

This bottle is the first in a series of new cask releases throughout 2009 that carries a specially designed label which aims to bring the Society’s distinctive tasting notes to life. ‘A Chocolate Valentine’, cask number 125.18, has the aromas and flavours of a heady mix of dark chocolate to create a balanced and smooth taste which promises to linger all night long.

Described expertly by the Society’s Tasting Panel as ‘love at first sniff’, this single cask, single malt whisky is sure to ignite passion. The chocolate love affair is brimming with tantalising tastes of orange with a smoky undercurrent to keep many a lover warm on a February evening.

The elegance of the Society bottling uniquely details the exquisite taste of the whisky, with an enticing tasting note to tempt anyone to sample.

Paul Miles, managing director, said: “To celebrate this date, we wanted to launch a unique bottling and we expect ‘A Chocolate Valentine’ to be taken up quickly. The Society likes to mark Valentine’s Day in style – and what better way to do so, than with our own distinctive taste.”

For those tempted to find out more about what tasty whisky treats are available, they can visit, to see how the Society has introduced a whole new way to explore the world of single cask, single malt whisky.

Membership of the Society costs £100 for the first year, which includes the special gift of the exclusive Membership Box. Annual renewal thereafter costs from £49.50.

To apply for membership to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society please visit or call 0131 555 2929.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

10 Feb

Burn Stewart toasts the health of Scotch market

Burn Stewart Distillers is boosting capacity after achieving dramatic growth in sales in 2008 helped by buoyant trading in key export markets.

While many UK firms found the going increasingly tough, the whisky maker prospered with a 20% increase in volumes as it made good progress in countries like Taiwan.

The recent success partly reflects a historic change in global markets which has gathered pace in recent years.

A big increase in the popularity of whisky in Asia and Africa has offset sluggish growth in mature economies such as the US.

This has helped Scotland's whisky producers become the envy of firms in many sectors.

Burn Stewart's Scottish Leader blended whisky has been experiencing 21% year-on-year growth in South Africa in recent years.

"The reality for our business is that the Scotch market generally is in very good health," said Fraser Thornton, managing director.

He confirmed that Burn Stewart managed to increase prices last year, putting the company in line for a strong financial performance.

The annual audit of the company's accounts is ongoing but Thornton said he expected the company to record an increase in profits for the year to December.

In 2007, Burn Stewart doubled profits compared with the preceding year, to £400,000.

Thornton said the growth in sales last year pre-dated the sharp fall in the value of the pound.

However, the sustained weakness of the pound should help Burn Stewart maintain the momentum in the current year.

In a sign of confidence, the company has invested £1m in upgrading production facilities to help boost capacity by around 25%.

The company installed a new bottling line at its headquarters at East Kilbride and four new stills at the Deanston distillery near Doune in Perthshire.

The investment will help safeguard the jobs of the company's 240 employees.

Thornton said the com-pany appeared to be benefitting from a change in strategy initiated after it was acquired by CL Worldbrands, the Trinidadian-owned drinks group, in 2003.

The company shifted focus from supplying own-label spirits to supermarkets and the like in the UK to promoting its own brands at home and overseas.

Burn Stewart now only supplies own-label goods to high street retailer Marks & Spencer.

Exports currently account for around 80% of sales by volume, compared with 50% five years ago.

In the UK, Burn Stewart increased sales volumes marginally last year, helped by investment in promoting brands like Black Bottle blended Scotch.

The new line will allow Burn Stewart to produce 215 70 centilitre bottles per minute, up from 170.

The company's eight lines will be able to produce 84,000 bottles per day.

Article Courtesy of The Herald


The Herald

09 Feb

Mallya plans to sell up to 49 per cent stake in Whyte & Mackay

NEW DELHI: Liquor baron Vijay Mallya is mulling to divest around 49 per cent stake in United Spirits Ltd's UK-based wholly-owned subsidiary Whyte & Mackay (W&M), which it acquired for 595 million pounds in May 2007.

The move is part of the USL's plan to raise cash, including introducing a strategic partner with a possible sale of up to 14.9 per cent from its treasury stocks, for which it had talks with world's biggest spirit maker Diageo in New York recently.

"The divestment of up to 49 per cent in Whyte & Mackay was always part of United Spirits Ltd's de-leveraging plan," UB Group Spokesperson told media.

He, however, declined to disclose further details saying, "We are not in a position to offer any further comment except to say that we expect the value to reflect the substantial appreciation in whisky inventory."

Industry sources, however, said USL is trying to reduce debts on its books and retire them, which it had borrowed at the time of acquiring W&M.

USL is expecting to cash in on the appreciation of Scotch whisky inventory held by W&M in the last 12 months.

Earlier, the company had reported an increase of 25.5 per cent in the value of Scotch inventory at 456 million pounds since its acquisition .

According to industry experts, there is a mismatch between the demand and supply of Scotch whisky globally, which has resulted in hardening of its prices and this has also pushed the average value of inventory stocks by more than one-fourth.

The prices of Scotch whisky have moved up by over 15 per cent in the last 12 months, United Spirits sources said.

At the time of acquisition, W&M had stocks of around 116 million litres, valued at around 364 million pounds. Now the total value of its inventory has gone up to 456 million pounds, registering a growth of over 25.5 per cent.

However, in terms of the average value of the stocks, it has increased by 49 per cent.

At the time of acquisition, in May 2007, the value of per litre of original alcohol was 3.12 pounds, which has increased to 4.65 pounds by December 2008.

Article Courtesy of India Times


India Times

08 Feb

Cut in whisky duty 'best way to boost Scottish economy'

Independent consultants say slashing duty by same amount as VAT cut could raise £733m

NEW FIGURES from leading economic consultants Gen show that a 2.5% cut in duty on Scotch whisky would generate more than twice as much benefit to the UK economy as last year's equivalent VAT cut, the Sunday Herald has learned.

Scottish government figures suggest the VAT cut resulted in a £320 million boost in value to the Scottish economy, leading the first minister, Alex Salmond, to suggest that direct investment in building programmes instead of the tax cut would have raised more than £680m.

But Gen, which has no ties to the whisky industry, claims cutting the duty would generate £733m for the Scottish economy.

Gen director Richard Marsh said: "Although it is not proposed that government should, or could, issue a £1 billion cut in duties to the whisky industry, our research shows they would definitely get greater return for their money by supporting this sector with some cuts.

"Whisky is the industry with the most potential to benefit the Scottish economy. It is our belief that channelling tax cuts directly to the hugely productive and successful Scotch whisky industry would in theory be worth more to Scotland's economy than a major capital investment programme."

The report was seized on by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which lobbies the Westminster government for a more favourable tax regime. The body is expected to launch a new campaign to discourage the chancellor, Alistair Darling, from imposing further duty hikes in his spring Budget.

David Williamson, an SWA spokesman said: "We hadn't seen these figures before, but they confirm what we know about the strong productivity of the sector. You could call it a virtuous circle. Lower taxes make us more competitive at home, and lead to more investment from producers to sell more higher- value products in export markets.

"This in turn contributes more export revenue, and helps the balance of trade. Economists will tell you that supporting indigenous exporting industries helps the wider economy and is the way to help the UK economy out of recession."

Gen's figures are based on "feeding through" the whisky industry into the Scottish government's input-output model. The resulting finding is that, if cuts in duties were passed through the whisky industry, consumption and production would increase, spurring more production and increasing exports.

The Scotch whisky industry generates around £1.5bn in gross value added per year. Gen calculates that the knock-on benefits of the industry add around £2.5bn to the Scottish economy. The industry employs over 22,000 skilled workers, and 16,000 in supply chain and retail industries, as well as 1700 whisky-related tourism and leisure jobs.

In an interview with the Sunday Herald last year, finance secretary John Swinney warned a rise in tax on spirits would "undoubtedly have an effect on the tariffs that other countries deploy".

"We essentially have a punitive taxation regime in relation to whisky, which puts the industry at a competitive disadvantage," he said.

Sales of Scotch whisky have soared on the back of recent demand from areas such as China, India, Russia and parts of South America, and the industry has reacted with multi-million-pound investments in new distilleries such as Diageo's Roseisle in Speyside. Some 90% of Scotch whisky is exported.

Article Courtesy of Sunday Herald


Sunday Herald

05 Feb

SC dismisses Scotch Whisky Association's plea

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition filed by the Scotch Whisky Association seeking a review of an earlier judgment that allowed the Khoday group to use word 'Scot' as part of the whisky brand.

The apex court had last year allowed the Khoday group to use the word 'Scot' on its premium whisky brand Peter Scot.

A bench headed by Justice S B Sinha, while rejecting the contention of the Scotch Whisky Association, an industry body of manufacturers and exporters of Scotch whisky, last week had held that there were no grounds for reviewing the verdict of May 27 last year.

"We have gone through the review petition and the connected papers. No ground has been made out to review our order. The review petition is dismissed," the bench said.

The association had stated that domestic whisky makers, including Khoday, should be restrained from using the words 'Scot' or 'Scotch' on their products.

The judgment had come after after Khoday Distillery (now Khoday India Ltd) had moved the apex court seeking a stay on the Madras High Court judgment that directed the Registrar of Trademarks to remove the registered trademark Peter Scot of the group from the books.

Last year, the bench, while setting aside the Madras High Court verdict, had said that the association had taken action against quite a few companies which not only used the word scotch but also used the word Highland, Chief, Terrier etc.

"But it failed to take action against the appellant (Khoday) in the present case," it said.

Article Courtesy of The Hindu


The Hindu

03 Feb

Naked Scot Whisky

Australian liquor producer ASM Liquor operates under the premise that spirits without chemicals will deliver less of a hangover. The company has a range that includes vodka, rum, gin and tequila with the quirky names, Vodka O, Kinky Nero dark rum, Kinky Lux white rum, Jinn Dry Gin and Tequila Blu. The latest is a whisky called Naked Scot. As Bill Dowd reports ASM Liquor has the whisky distilled on the Isle of Mull and aged three years. They claim that the whisky is free from residual herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides (it doesn't mention if the product is organic).

Article Courtesy of Naked Scot Whisky


Naked Scot Whisky

01 Feb

The Golf Bar is India's best whisky watering hole

The World Whisky Bar Awards held few surprises, but offered lots to sample.

If more people are drinking whisky in India than is being produced in the world, the contradiction is that very few Indians know anything about whisky at all. Most simply drink to get high, and with the European Union claiming that Indian whisky isn’t whisky after all, just rum in fancy packaging, it’s time to get into the spirit of things and find out a little more about Indians’ favourite brew.

The person to do that might well be S S H Rehman, director with ITC Hotels, who last evening was named Wine Personality of the Year at the World Whisky Bar Awards, held at The Leela Kempinski in Gurgaon. It was a moot point whether it was to sample some of the finest and most expensive whiskies in the world, or the curiosity of checking out the soft-launched hotel, that kept the glamouratti coming in, but the awards proved what many already know. That the Golf Bar at ITC Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi is the best bar in the country (displacing last year’s winner Bombay High), while the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers, Mumbai, held on to last year’s win, by picking up the Best Whisky Hotel award once again. The Best Whisky Restaurant was grabbed by Dum Pukht, New Delhi, in lieu of last year’s Zodiac Grill, Mumbai.

The event, Whisky Live, is part of Whisky magazine’s South Asia representative Sandeep Arora’s effort to take whisky drinking to cult status, and if his contention that the very top-end of the market to which he caters numbers no more than 2,500 persons, last evening’s turnout should ideally have included a good part of them. But, of course, since the awards and the event also cater to the trade, who in turn serve this high-end market, it might be said that it was a teaser of the size and scale it might grow into.

While the Whisky magazine is to be launched some time later this year, Arora says the Whisky Live Awards event is aimed at identifying “the finest bars in India”, though only accredited bars can apply, which requires a fee of $230 and must conform to its select criteria. There are currently 60 accredited bars in India, and a list of the world’s award-winning Whisky bars is published in a directory annually in the magazine.

BEST WHISKY BAR Golf Bar, ITC Maurya, New Delhi
HIGHLY COMMENDED 1911, The Imperial, New Delhi
BEST WHISKY HOTEL Taj Mahal Palace & Towers, Mumbai
HIGHLY COMMENDED Taj President Mumbai and
ITC Windsor Manor, Bangalore
BEST WHISKY RESTAURANT Dum Pukhat, ITC Maurya, New Delhi
HIGHLY COMMENDED Wasabi by Morimoto,
Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi

As part of his portfolio, Arora — who conducts highly specialised and very expensive whisky sampling and appreciation courses that guests have to sometimes pay as much as Rs 25,000-30,000 per head to attend — is also launching the Angel’s Share malt club. “My bottom line is whisky,” says this former telecom professional who chose to turn into a whisky entrepreneur in 2002 when he launched, for the first time in an India divided into those who drank Johnnie Walker Black Label, and those who didn’t, his Rare Whisky Collection.

“I represented, and sold whiskies that were available only by allocation, not by distribution,” he says, explaining that while the idea pleased many, converting them into sales took at least two years. “At a time when you bought your scotch for Rs 600-700,” he recalls, “I was selling my bottles at a starting price of Rs 40,000,” and on terms that were highly rigid as compared to other whisky distributors. The Taj Mahal Palace and Towers in Mumbai was the first to bite the bullet and ordered 12 bottles for 4,500 pounds, and ITC Welcomgroup was a quick second. “Even today,” he says, “I sell rare rather than expensive whiskies, especially identifying those from distilleries that have shut down.”

Some of these whiskies that India got to sample last night included Balbair, Mortlach, Tomomori 12, Ballantine’s, Glenlivet, Laphroaig, the White & McKay collection, Canadian Club and, launching its first toast in India, Ardmore. Finger foods from five whisky producing countries — Scotland, Ireland, Canada, USA and Japan (yes!) — were especially paired with the blends and malts. And for those who drank not so much well as too well, at least there is the consolation that their hangover, this morning, is likely to be a high-end one.

Article Courtesy of Business Standard India


Business Standard India
January 2009 Scotch Whisky News

31 Jan

Whisky trick tickles judges’ taste buds

Elgin hotel chef’s whisky-flavour dishes win the day

AN ELGIN chef used a combination of Speyside whiskies and local foods yesterday to win over judges at a competition.

Chris Morrison, 28, who is head chef at the Mansfield Hotel in Elgin, competed against three others in the Spirit of Speyside 2009 competition at Moray College.

They had to come up with a three-course menu for two people for under £17.50, with each dish containing a flavour of Speyside whisky.

The chefs also had to include a minimum of three local foods.

As well as presentation, taste and balance, judges were looking for a meal which would be suitable to serve to up to 300 people at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in May.

Among the judges was Martine Nouet, editor of the Whisky Magazine Paris, and Jim Royan, chairman of Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

Mr Morrison’s menu included a main course of rare Speyside beef coated in draff, which is a by-product of the whisky distillation process, cooked in 12-year-old Glenlivet, and a parfait dessert with local honey and oatmeal, and an Aberlour A’bunadh whisky and caramel sauce.

He will receive the £700 first prize at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival opening dinner on Friday, May 1.

Second place went to Alan Robertson, from the Craigellachie Hotel, while Addy Daggert, from Glenfiddich distillery, came third. Willi Zellweger, also from the Mansfield Hotel, will receive two tickets to the Capercaillie concert during the festival for his efforts.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

29 Jan

Why whisky has an appeal that is sheer chemistry

Sales of Scotch whisky are at a high despite the economic gloom. Here Roger Jewsbury, Head of Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences, School of Applied Sciences at the University of Huddersfield tells us about the science behind the drink's chemistry.

THESE may be days of economic gloom but they are also times of Whisky Galore, with sales of Scotch whisky at their highest level for decades and old capacity being brought back into use.

George Bernard Shaw may have called it "liquid sunshine" but to the discerning chemist whisky is much more with over 100 chemicals all determining flavour and distinguishing one whisky from another.

The law limits whisky made in Scotland to a few ingredients. It is made from malted barley and water, fermented only by yeast with just one permitted additive - caramel for colouring. Despite this, the diversity of flavours is a feature of Scotch whisky and it arises from differences in production and particularly maturation.

Malting is the process in which the grain is germinated by soaking in water briefly before drying. This releases natural enzymes which convert starch into the soluble sugars, such as maltose, that will be fermented to alcohol.

Historically, the malted barley was dried over peat fires and some distilleries, notably those from Islay, still smoke their malt to incorporate phenolic compounds from the peat to give a characteristic smoky taste. Phenols are interesting compounds; phenol itself is a disinfectant which older readers may remember as the ingredient in carbolic acid soap, which incidentally is now banned. Levels of phenols in drinking water are tested to ensure that they are very low – at least 10,000 times lower than found in some whiskies.

From a mash of malt and water, the solution is taken and yeast is added for fermentation. After about three days, the sugar will have been converted to alcohol.

The next step is distillation - heating the mixture to separate it into different fractions. Distillation is used to remove the most volatile and least volatile fractions. The distillation is usually in copper vessels, which is thought to help the removal of foul smelling sulphurous compounds.

The next step, again defined in law, is maturation in oak casks not exceeding 700 litres for at least three years. The limit to the size of the casks is an indication of the importance of this step and the need for the whisky to be in contact with the wood.

Like many other spirits and wines, aging takes place in oak casks. It is rare to use new oak. The vanillin in oak, the same compound found in vanilla pods, imparts a strong vanilla flavour, so casks previously used for American whiskey (Bourbon) or sherry are preferred, as much of the vanillin has already been removed.

Other processes also occur during maturation. Pungent sulphur compounds diffuse out through the wood and air diffuses in starting a series of reactions which leads to the formation of esters - a significant contribution to the aroma. Esters have pleasant odour – they contribute to the characteristic smells of fruit. The colour also develops during this time from the compounds in the wood.

Once a whisky has matured, it is blended and diluted to its final bottle concentration of 40 per cent alcohol. Single malts are usually blended from several casks - all from the same distillery - to establish just the right flavour, the age on the bottle indicating the youngest whisky in that blend.

The flavour of the whisky comes from the taste and the aroma from the volatile compounds. Connoisseurs describe whisky by categories such as colour, nose, body, palate and finish. These are mostly understood in terms of the chemical composition, although it would be a brave chemist who tried to tell an expert which malt he should drink. The chemical analysis does have another use; it can be used to identify counterfeit whiskies.

If the chemistry is understood, what is the best way to drink whisky? Again this is really a matter of taste - there is no simple answer. If you add water, you reduce the solubility of compounds such as the esters and increase their volatility. So do this, if you like the fruity aroma. In contrast, the phenolics are water-soluble and the volatility of these is reduced, so if you like the smoky peaty aroma, drink your malt whisky neat. If you add ice, all the compounds will be less volatile – so the aroma will be reduced with less effect on the taste.

And the expert verdict? Well, the chemist can explain the differences, but how you drink your whisky should depend upon your personal preference.

Article Courtesy of Huddersfield Daily Examiner

The full Manufacturing process (7000 words) can be found in our eBook “The Essential Guide to Scotch Whisky.”


Huddersfield Daily Examiner

29 Jan

Distiller aiming for green future

Energy plant will use spent wash

A LEADING drinks producer started work yesterday on a £65million green energy plant which could almost replace the need for fossil fuels at a distillery.

Construction on the project at Diageo’s Cameronbridge distillery in Fife was formally opened by First Minister Alex Salmond.

Diageo said the investment would cut the need for 95% of fossil fuels at the distillery, which produces top-name gin, whisky and vodka.

The new bioenergy facility works by converting spent wash – a mixture of wheat, malted barley, yeast and water – into usable gas and solids for fuel.

Mr Salmond said the new drive would support jobs and build on momentum for clean, green energy.

He added: “This investment signals Diageo’s commitment to Scotland’s environment and the Scottish economy, with the creation of up to 20 long-term jobs and support for 100 construction jobs over the next three years.

“We must continue to attract investment, promote competitiveness and support businesses to help reflate the economy.”

The Cameronbridge distillery already has about 100 employees.

Diageo Scotland managing director Bryan Donaghey said: “Three years of work has gone into the research and preparation behind this facility and, with construction now under way, it is incredibly rewarding for the project team here at Cameronbridge to see their careful planning start to become a reality.

“We are immensely proud of this project which will create a showcase bioenergy facility and which is, without question, the right way forward in terms of our environmental ambitions.”

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

28 Jan

Pernod Ricard Announces Strategic Distributor Alignments

Moves Signal Expanded Market Presence Following Absolut Acquisition

Capitalizing on its 2008 acquisition of Absolut Vodka, an iconic brand and the leading U.S. imported spirit, Pernod Ricard USA announces strategic alignments with two of the nation's leading distributors: Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. (SWS) and Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC).

The appointments -- which expand existing relationships -- represent the latest steps in the development of Pernod Ricard's competitive footprint in the U.S. "Pernod Ricard USA is building on the acquisition of the top premium vodka in the U.S. to establish a world class route to market," said Paul Duffy, the company's Chairman and CEO. "By aligning Absolut and our other leading brands with these best-in-class distributors and brokers, we are creating significant opportunities for mutual growth."

SWS will be Pernod Ricard USA's leading distributor/broker for its full portfolio of premium spirits and wines in over 20 markets, including California, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Kentucky. RNDC will be the leading Pernod Ricard USA spirits and wine distributor/broker in markets including Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Alabama and Mississippi.

Duffy said the new agreements with Southern and Republic will capitalize on Pernod Ricard USA's expanded portfolio of leading brands, leveraging dedicated resources and improved ways of working. "We have had great success with Southern and Republic National, and are very confident that we can further develop our strategic brands through fully aligned route to market processes," Duffy said.

Following the acquisition of Vin & Sprit (Absolut's previous owner), Pernod Ricard USA is now the second largest spirits and wine company in the U.S. by retail sales value. Concluded Duffy: "These moves are game-changers that will build value with advantage for Pernod Ricard USA, Southern, RNDC and our customers."

About Pernod Ricard USA

Pernod Ricard USA is the premium spirits and wine company in the U.S., and the largest subsidiary of Paris, France-based Pernod Ricard SA. In July, 2008, Pernod Ricard completed the acquisition of the iconic ABSOLUT(R) Vodka brand from the V&S Group, and Pernod Ricard USA is now the second-leading company in the U.S. by sales value.

In addition to ABSOLUT(R), Pernod Ricard USA's leading brands include such prestigious spirits as The Glenlivet(R) Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Chivas Regal(R) Scotch Whisky, Jameson(R) Irish Whiskey, Wild Turkey(R) Bourbon, Seagram's Extra Dry Gin(R), Beefeater(R) Gin, Plymouth(TM) Gin, Martell(R) Cognac, Malibu(R) flavored Rum, Kahlua(R) Liqueur, Hiram Walker(R) Liqueurs, Pernod(R) and Ricard(R); such superior wines as Jacob's Creek(R) and Brancott Estate(R); and such exquisite champagnes and sparkling wines as Perrier-Jouet(R) Champagne, G.H. Mumm(TM) Champagne and Mumm Napa(R) sparkling wines.

The company is based in Purchase, New York, and has roughly 1,000 employees across the country.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

27 Jan

Distillery wins whisky ruling

A Cape Breton distillery will be allowed to use the term "Glen" on its single-malt whisky, the Federal Court of Appeal has ruled.

The court upheld Glenora Distillers' trademark registration for the brand Glen Breton, which had been launched in 2000.

The Scotch Whisky Association, an organization dedicated to promoting about 50 brands containing the word Glen, had argued the name would mislead consumers into thinking the drink was produced in Scotland.

In 2007, the Trademarks Opposition Board ruled that the use of the Glen was not misleading; last year, however, the Federal Court ofCanada overturned that decision following an appeal from the Scotch Whisky Association.

Bob Scott, executive vice-president for the distiller, said he hopes the appeal court's decision will be the last one necessary.

"What it means is that we can move on with business," he said from Glenville, N. S. Glen Breton is the only single-malt whisky produced in Canada, he said, and being forced to rebrand it would have set the small company back.

"This single-malt industry is not all about scotch whisky," said Mr. Scott, adding that single malts are produced in Japan, Ireland, the U. S., and other countries.

David Williamson, a spokesman for the Edinburgh-based Scotch Whisky Association, said his group has 60 days to decide if it will file an appeal to the Supreme Court.

"Given that the court confirmed the earlier ruling that the 'Glen Breton' trademark has caused 'actual confusion in the marketplace,' it is surprising the court has decided to allow this confusion to be perpetuated," he said. "The association will be studying the ruling carefully with a view to a possible appeal."

Glen, a Scottish Gaelic term for a valley, had been incorporated into a number of internationally regarded scotches, notably Glenfidditch and Glenlivet.

Only whiskies brewed in Scotland can be considered true Scotches.

Article Courtesy of National Post - Canada


National Post - Canada

25 Jan

Rare whisky home after a century

AFTER MORE than 100 years, a rare old bottle of whisky produced in Brechin is returning to its spiritual home.

Recently sold at auction in Edinburgh for £3240, the bottle of Glencadam Highland single malt is back in the possession of the local distillery of its name where it is to be given pride of place on display.

“Such opportunities to acquire very rare bottles are few and far between,” said Brian Megson, Scottish-based director of Angus Dundee Distillers, owners of Glencadam.

“We felt it would be great to add this ancient bottle of Glencadam to the rich history of one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland.”

Located on the edge of Brechin, Glencadam opened for business in 1825, just one year after distilling on a large scale was legalised, and is the last remaining distillery in Angus.

The rare Old Pot Still Scotch Viking bottle was discovered in the 1950s in a house in Washington State, USA, behind a trap door by the vendor after renovating his father’s new house.

It is thought the whisky could have been hidden away during Prohibition—the period from 1920 to 1933, where the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol for consumption was made illegal throughout the country.

Article Courtesy of The Courier


The Courier

24 Jan

New acts for first whisky culture festival

Home of duke of argyll to host event as part of Homecoming Scotland

NEW acts have been added to the entertainment line-up for Scotland’s first whisky culture festival Spirit of the West.

Confirmed performers include bag-rock sensation the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, folk musician Robin Laing, Argyll Homecoming Gaelic Choir, the golden voice of Islay, Norma Munro and pipes and drums tribal group Clann an Drumma.

The event, which is part of Homecoming Scotland 2009’s Whisky Month, will take place at Inveraray Castle on May 16 and 17.

Family open-air activities include crowd pleaser Big Rory, Ochi and The Giant Seagulls and sheepdog and duck display team Drakes of Hazzard, as seen on Blue Peter.

Cooking up a treat, celebrity chef Nick Nairn joins the event on the Sunday.

Log on to the website for more information.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

23 Jan

Pernod Ricard names Eric Benoist Chivas Brothers marketing director

Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky and premium gin business of Pernod Ricard, has appointed Eric Benoist to the position of marketing director.

Benoist replaces Martin Riley who has been promoted to chief marketing officer of Pernod Ricard in Paris. Benoist, currently marketing director at Pernod Ricard subsidiary Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouet in France, will take up his new position on 1 February 2009. He will report to Christian Porta, chairman & chief executive officer of Chivas Brothers, and will be a member of the management committee.

Benoist joined Pernod Ricard in 1993 and has held positions in France, Hong Kong and Japan before moving back to France in 2003 as marketing director of Martell Cognac, and since 2005 has also been marketing director for Mumm and Perrier-Jouët champagnes.

Anne-Claire Rodary, currently senior marketing category director at Pernod Ricard will replace Benoist as marketing director Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouet, with effect from 1 February. Rodary will report to Lionel Breton, chairman & chief executive officer of Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouet and will be a member of the management committee.

Article Courtesy of Brand Republic


Brand Republic

22 Jan

Distillery to power ahead with new plant

Speyside £35million biomass-fuelled development will generate electricity

A Moray distillery group yesterday welcomed planning approval for a renewable energy plant in Speyside.

Frank Burns, manager of the Combination of Rothes Distillers Ltd, said the first biomass-fuelled distillery power plant is good news for the industry.

The plant, to be built at Rothes Distillery, will create enough electricity for around 9,000 houses, and will cost £35million. It will be the first such project to use distillery by-products, such as pot ale, with wood chip, to generate electricity.

Its maximum capacity is 7.2MW, which can be used on site or exported to the nat-ional grid. A separate plant will be built to turn pot ale into a concentrated organic fertiliser for use by farmers.

The process takes the by-products from distillery operations, including process water, pot ale and draff, and turns them into value inputs such as biomass fuel, liquid soil conditioner and animal feed.

Last month the project received the best environmental initiative award at the Scottish Green Energy Awards 2008.

Moray Council’s planning and regulatory services committee agreed to the development earlier this week but added 10 conditions, including gas protection measures and precautions against polluting the River Spey.

It is a joint development between Helius Energy and the Combination of Rothes Distillers Ltd, a group formed to process the pot ale produced by the whisky distilleries in the Rothes area.

The combination’s general manager, Frank Burns, said the group began working on the project four years ago, when they compiled a feasibility study. He said: “It’s taken some time, but we have to be certain that the technology is going to stand up to the task. It is very good news for the industry. We are trying to move forward in a more sustainable fashion.”

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

22 Jan

Scrap thieves steal whisky tools

Distilling equipment belonging to a former prize-winning distillery near Falkirk has been stolen.

Central Scotland Police said the copper and steel equipment, worth a six-figure sum, was taken from the Rosebank distillery in Camelon.

The theft occurred sometime between Christmas Day and 20 January.

The force said they believed the equipment was stolen to sell on the scrap metal market despite the re-sale value being lower.

Det Insp Hugh Louden, of Falkirk CID, said: "I believe that a significant amount of planning would have been involved in order to get into the building, then set about removing the metal equipment over a period of some weeks.

"The site is a historic listed building and, although it closed in 1993, is a landmark in the Falkirk area.

"It is likely the metal has been stolen to be sold on as scrap and I would urge anyone with any information about the theft, or who has seen vehicles or individuals in and around the distillery site over the past four weeks, to contact the police.

"We would like to hear also from anyone who may be offered scrap metal and which may come from this site."

Rosebank Distillery, which sits beside the Forth and Clyde Canal and dates from the 1840s, produced a triple-distilled single malt until 1993. The bottles currently sell for more than £200

Article Courtesy of BBCi



22 Jan

Scotch whisky goes green with renewable power plant

Scotch drinkers who care for the climate will soon relish their tipple in the knowledge it is providing clean renewable power in the home of whisky.

Scottish authorities have given planning permission for a consortium of distillers to build a biomass-fuelled combined heat and power plant near the heart of the whisky industry in Speyside.

Helius Energy Plc (HEGY.L) said on Wednesday it and the Combination of Rothes Distillers Ltd would build the plant, which would use distillery by-products and wood chips to generate 7.2 megawatts of electricity, enough for about 9,000 homes, and heat.

"Not only will it generate renewable heat and power, but it secures additional markets for our distillery co-products," Frank Burns, general manager of the Combination of Rothes, said.

It is yet to be decided if the heat and power are to be used at the site for the distillers or by the local community and business. Electricity might be fed into the National Grid.

The Combination of Rothes Distillers includes The Edrington Group -- the producer of The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark -- Chivas Brothers (PERP.PA) -- the producer of Chivas Regal -- Glen Grant Distillery Ltd, Inver House Distillers, Diageo (DGE.L) and Benriach Distillery Co.

The GreenSwitch plant, to be built north of Rothes -- about 60 km (37.28 miles) east of Inverness in northeast Scotland -- requires investment of around 35 million pounds ($48.11 million). Construction will start in the third quarter of this year for completion 18 to 24 months later.

It would use draff -- solid grain product removed from the mash tun prior to fermentation -- and pot ale -- the liquid high-protein residue from a still.

As part of the project, they are to add a plant that would turn pot ale into concentrated organic fertiliser for local farmers.

Article Courtesy of Reuters



21 Jan

Whisky, Poetry & Song in Spirit: “All Gang Thegither”

There will be no better place to celebrate Scotland’s favourite tipple than at Spirit of the West this year. This west coast whisky culture festival takes place in Inveraray this May, part of Homecoming Scotland 2009’s Whisky Month. As whisky & Scotland lovers come in their masses to savour the flavour of Scotland, their experience will be accompanied by the sounds and words inspired by the ‘water of life’. The combination of soothing celtic music and the words spoken with an accented Scottish vocabulary will tell the turbulent stories and comical tavern tales of the Scots appreciation of whisky and its journey over the centuries.

The most famous words in favour of the dram come from Robert Burns, the nation’s favourite poet, whose love for whisky (as well as women!) was expressed passionately through his poetry in works such as ‘Freedom and Whisky Gang Thegither’. Born in 1759 in Alloway, Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland, Burns lived in a time when illicit whisky distilling was commonplace, often hidden away in the purple heathered hills around Scotland.

Illicit distilling came as a result of the Scottish Parliament’s introduction of the first taxes on whisky distilling in the late 17th century. The excisemen, tax collectors, were very unpopular. Burns shares his hatred for the excisemen and their influence over whisky distilling throughout his poems. In his works Scotch Drink he expresses anger over the removal of duty free distilling privileges of Ferintosh whisky. “The De’il’s Awa wi’ th’ Excise Man” illustrates his negative feelings towards the ‘gaugers’. Ironically, due to financial difficulties, Burns became a gauger, an exciseman, himself.

At Spirit of the West, tales of how highlanders kept the secret of Scotland’s stills and 'the water of life' safe, will be told by The Walking Theatre Company. On historical trails, the group will re-enact the story of highland smugglers hiding from the Excisemen. This fantastic outdoor theatre experience offers spellbinding storytelling with a distinct whisky aroma.

Robert Burns has always been one of Scotland’s biggest inspirations to singers, song writers & poets in Scotland and across the globe. Performing at Spirit of the West festival is Robin Laing, a talented Scottish folk singer and song writer who has a tremendous respect for the bard. Robin is well known for combining his love for whisky and folk song and, along with his celtic voice and soothing sounds of his classical guitar, hearing him perform is probably the best way to enjoy a Scotch Malt and hear a few stories of whisky along the way.

Robin’s dream of music as a full time profession came true in 1996. Before then, he released two albums, Edinburgh Skyline in 1989 and Walking in Time in 1994. Since 1996, he has created his one man show “The Angel’s Share”, an expression that refers to part of the contents in a whisky cask that evaporate during its maturing years. Robin has toured the UK and abroad singing passionate tales of whisky. His songs capture the true essence of what whisky means to Scotland, its flavours, romance and it’s turbulent battles with the excisemen. The Angel’s Share includes Burns’ “The De’il’s awa’ wi’ th’exciseman”.

In an article written by Robin, he says of his love for folksong, whisky and Scotland: ”Whatever ambivalence comes through in songs, whisky is immensely important to the Scots and much of my material is celebratory. Whisky is, afterall, a large part of Scotland’s contribution to humanity. What better way to celebrate it than through folk song, for singing and whisky gang thegither!”

He says of performing at Spirit of the West: “It is wonderful to be invited to play at Spirit of the West festival. I have travelled the Whisky Coast and visited all the distilleries and communities and now to see it all come together in one location is fantastic. Whisky is the natural drink of the west coast and is woven through its history and culture. I am really looking forward to celebrating that culture and that spirit through my songs and stories. Slainte!”

Robin will be joining 16 distillers from the west coast of Scotland from the waters of Arran in the south to as far north as Talisker on the Isle of Skye. This will be a good opportunity to experience the varied flavours of whisky in a truly Scottish atmosphere.

Joining the list of celtic performers at Spirit of the West is Scottish folk singer Norma Munro, the golden voice of Islay. The isle of Islay in the west coast of Scotland is both the home of Norma Munro and world famous single malts. The golden voice and the golden liquid work particularly well together. As audiences savour the taste of west coast whisky at Spirit of the West, their whisky experience will no doubt be enhanced by the celtic sounds of a variety of chosen tracks from Norma’s three albums.

Originally from Dundee, Norma moved to the beautiful island of Islay in 1994 to escape the city rat-race and since then has not only performed at various events on the island but has gone international, performing at the Whisky & Song festival in Paris and at various events in Switzerland, Germany and Sweden. In 2001, Norma released her first album, A Song in the Air, covering a mix of popular Scottish folk songs and her own favourites. Scotia’s Gold was later released, with a mix of traditional and contemporary tracks. The first track on the album “Scotia’s Gold” was written by writer Dr David Wishart and set to music by Norma Munro and is very much an appreciation of the art and skill behind the production of whisky. Her third album “The Rose” was later recorded in 2007.

Norma says of her link between whisky and singing: “It all came about when I moved to the lovely island of Islay in 1994, before then singing was really a hobby of mine. I got to know local whisky distilleries who introduced me to various people from the industry and performed at many fantastic events on the island. My international career grew from there and have been singing mainly Scottish folk songs ever since.”

She says of Spirit of the West: “In my experience of playing at whisky festivals and events, I always find great pleasure in seeing familiar faces, meeting new people and experiencing the friendly, fun atmosphere. I am very much looking forward to Spirit of the West and excited to be a part of the inaugural event.”

Norma Munro, Robin Laing and the Walking Theatre Company can be seen performing in the music, dance & drama marquee at Spirit of the West festival at Inveraray Castle across the weekend of Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th May 2009. Also taking to the stage are celtic band Clann an Drumma, a dizzy mix of pipes and drums best heard live and the Argyll Homecoming Choirs, a collaboration of gaelic singing groups from throughout the region.

Inspired by the blend of whisky, rugged coastlines and the dramatic atmosphere of Scotland’s west coast, the Spirit of the West festival will showcase the very heart of whisky culture. This will bring all that surrounds Whisky in the west to one location - the stunning grounds of Inveraray Castle. Join in the celebration and be part of Homecoming Scotland 2009’s whisky month. Visit for more information.

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

21 Jan

Ardbeg, Highland Park and Talisker whisky

Discovering the secret behind the simple, single malt whisky

Burns Night is upon us, that solemn occasion where hardened Sassenachs suddenly rediscover their Scottish ancestry and realise what a daft and draughty piece of kit a kilt really is. I bet more whisky will be drunk around the world tomorrow night (the poet's birthday) than was consumed over Hogmanay itself. On Monday, all too many of us will wake up without the faintest idea as to where we are (or who we're with).

Uisge beatha, "the water of life", has been distilled in Scotland since the 15th century, a magical combination of water, barley and yeast, and I have recently developed a taste for its richer, more peaty expressions. Given the simplicity of the ingredients, I am intrigued to discover how it is that such single malt whiskies don't all taste the same. To find out, I take a whistle-stop tour of three of my favourite island distilleries – Ardbeg (Islay), Highland Park (Orkney) and Talisker (Skye).

I ask Jason Craig of Highland Park whether the quality of the water is the fundamental element that decides a whisky's flavour and style.

"I'm not so sure about that," he says. "We don't make any great claims about our water here. Heck, all Scottish water is great. And as for the other two ingredients, our barley varieties are constantly changing and yeast is yeast as far as we're concerned. No, I'd say what's important is the peat we dry our barley with."

Peat is the terroir of island whiskies and here on Orkney's Hobbister Moor, a wind-blasted heath with no trees (where, it is said, folk topple over whenever the gales temporarily cease), the peat is rich in decayed heather and rootlets. The lack of wood in its composition means that it burns slower at a lower temperature and with less smoke than most peats.

"We could just dry our barley with a giant hairdryer," says Craig. "But by drying it with smouldering peat you get a wonderful sweet, floral, smoky flavour. Using our own unique local peat is what Highland Park is all about and is our point of difference."

Over at Talisker, on the Isle of Skye, distillery manager Mark Lochhead takes a slightly different view. Talisker's peat comes from Caithness and Lochhead argues that it is less about the peat itself but more the amount of peat used that matters. For him, though, it is Talisker's water that is really the key.

"We use our own supply which has gone through Skye rock, earth and all the associated minerals that you won't find on Speyside or Orkney," he says. "It's unique to us and must surely have a major effect on the final spirit. To me it's our water, which is in fact quite peaty, that gives Talisker its distinctive notes of pepper and spice."

On Islay at the resurrected distillery of Ardbeg (it was shut for many years in the Eighties), distillery manager Michael Heads doesn't answer my question about the importance of peat outright, but leads me straight into a brightly whitewashed former malt bin. It still reeks of the stuff.

"Aye, so it does," he smiles. "And when you consider it hasn't been used as a malt bin for 30 years you get some idea of the influence that peat can have."

Here the peat is grassy and mossy, mixed with heather, wood, sand and even seaweed. In its raw state it doesn't smell at all, but once lit it releases a wonderfully rich, earthy aroma that is replicated in the whisky itself. And as for the iodine and salt I also detect, Heads simply waves his hand towards the sea breaking on the cobbles of the old jetty just yards from where we stand.

"They say the Manzanilla sherries of Sanlucar in Spain are salty because of the proximity of the sea, so why not our whisky?"

Having seen the role that peat plays as the terroir of these whiskies, I mustn't forget the importance of oak. For, just as winemakers are known for their strong views on the use of oak, so too are master distillers. Highland Park favours former sherry barrels made of American or Spanish oak while Ardbeg and Talisker prefer old bourbon barrels.

The three distilleries I visit use the same raw ingredients and distil in the same manner, but whether it's the water, the peat, the shape of the still, the type of oak barrel or length of maturation, they all end up with something deliciously different.

"Who knows why our whiskies are the way they are?" says Heads. "There is something indefinable about it all. I know for a fact that if we moved the Ardbeg distillery five miles down the road but continued to do everything else as before, we'd end up with a completely different whisky from the one we have now."

It's a mystery and one that I'm happy to continue investigating. In the meantime, I'll be toasting Robbie Burns tonight for sure, not at some ersatz English ceilidh but at home by the fire with a glass of Highland Park 18 Year Old. And perhaps one of Talisker 10. And maybe a wee dram of Ardbeg too.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

21 Jan

Old Pulteney Launches National Stories of the Sea events

The Genuine Maritime Malt, Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky, kicked off 2009 with the launch of its ambitious Stories of the Sea national tour at the London Boat Show last weekend.

Old Pulteney’s Stories of the Sea events run in partnership with The Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph and feature intimate storytelling sessions from some of the world’s most established and entertaining adventurers for a selected audience, followed by an interactive whisky tasting and workshop.

The London Boat Show event featured maritime adventurer Jasper Shackleton, a relative of the infamous explorer Ernest Shackleton. Jasper shared his captivating story of his re-enactment of the voyage of Captain William Bligh who sailed 3600 miles from Tofua to Timor with a crew of 17 men in a self-built open-boat.

The London Boat Show, which is in its 55th year is one of the biggest of its kind and attracted over 27,000 visitors on its first weekend, proved a perfect location for the launch event with a high demand for tickets.

Future speakers include Atlantic adventurer Tom McClean, BBC’s Coast presenter and maritime archaeologist Mark Horton, SAS trained survival expert, Martyn Helliwell, TV presenter and wildlife expert Chris Packham and Alvaro de Marichalar, the Spanish aristocrat who travelled from Rome to New York on a jet ski. Each was chosen by Old Pulteney for the extraordinary maritime tales they have to tell – each as different and original as the next.

Readers of the Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph can apply for tickets through the newspaper’s website for these free events. The national tour continues until August, visiting Liverpool, Edinburgh, Wick, Bristol and Southampton.

Iain Baxter, Senior Brand Manager for Old Pulteney commented on the event:

‘We are incredibly proud of our maritime heritage and close links with the sea, so to launch such a major new initiative with some of the world’s finest adventurers at one of the biggest events in the UK is very exciting ‘

Old Pulteney is making a significant investment in 2009 with a national advertising campaign across the consumer and maritime press and this campaign is a great start to what looks like will be a busy year for Old Pulteney, both in the UK and internationally.”

Article Courtesy of Press Release


Press Release

20 Jan

Duke of Rothesay tours Scottish distillery

Prince Charles pops into gin palace as he visits William Grant and Sons

PRINCE Charles visited a palace with a difference on a tour of a distillery yesterday.

The prince, known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, discovered how gin is made during a tour of a gin palace at William Grant and Sons’ site near Girvan in Ayrshire, where Hendrick’s spirit is made.

Inside the palace he was shown the huge stills containing the alcohol and 11 bins of the botanicals which are added to it to give it flavour.

The intrigued prince lifted the lids of a couple of bins to see the flavourings which include ingredients such as juniper berries, coriander seeds and angelica root.

Hendrick’s gin is also infused with cucumber and rose petals.

John Ross, 53, technical manager for William Grant, said of the prince: “He spoke to me about the botanicals and I thought he was very knowledgeable on the whole subject of botanicals.”

Charles was shown round the 380-acre site by Peter Gordon, chairman of William Grant and a member of the fifth generation of the Grant family.

Mr Gordon took the prince to see the new Ailsa Bay malt distillery, Scotland’s newest distillery, which began production last autumn.

It was officially opened yesterday by the company’s life president Charles Grant Gordon.

The lid of the case was opened and Charles was handed a glass of raw alcohol to sniff himself.

Brian Kinsman, 36, a blender who has worked for the company for 12 years, said: “He was actually going to taste it but we said he should not because it’s 70% alcohol.”

The new distillery is located adjacent to William Grant’s Girvan grain whisky distillery operations which were built in 1963.

The prince was also taken to see the cooperage, where casks are maintained. He chatted to some of the craftsmen and watched as one finished sealing a barrel.

William Grant has donated four casks to the Prince’s Trust charity.

They will be filled with new-make Ailsa Bay spirit which will be laid down in the distillery’s warehouses to mature and will later be bottled for the Prince’s Trust.

Charles watched as one of the barrels was filled and then used a hammer to drive in the bung.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

19 Jan

Whisky festival programme revealed

Popular speyside event will run for 10 days instead of five this year

A three-day malt school and a performance by Capercaillie will feature at this year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

The programme for the 10th annual whisky event, which will run from Friday, May 1, to Sunday, May 10, was announced yesterday.

The festival has been extended from five days to 10 following the success of last year’s event, which brought in the highest visitor numbers ever.

Organisers hope to attract 23,000 people and generate around £750,000 for the local economy.

The festival was established in 1999 to celebrate Scotland’s malt whisky country and to help promote tourism to Moray.

This year more than 250 events will take place around Speyside.

These include the prestigious annual whisky awards, professional and student chef competitions, and tours and tastes from distilleries which are not normally open to the public.

This year will also feature the first Malt Whisky School – a three-day master class for a select number of whisky enthusiasts.

Other activities will include ceilidhs, music events, whisky and food-matching dining opportunities and concerts.

The climax will be an outdoor concert on the banks of the River Spey in Aberlour, featuring Capercaillie, pipe bands, fiddlers and dancers and a fireworks display.

Jim Royan, chairman of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Board, said hopes were high that this year’s event would be the best yet.

“It already has a reputation which goes beyond whisky but this year we believe we can take it to a new dimension and establish it internationally,” said Mr Royan.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

19 Jan

Whisky in the frame

A new art gallery looks set to be a dram fine place to visit, writes Susan Welsh

LAST Wednesday was a red-letter day for the owners of the Ealain Gallery in Drymen, and whisky connoisseurs in Scotland.

Visitors to the art gallery can now nip in for something more than art and contemporary jewellery – a selection of rare and unusual whiskies.

The Ealain Gallery in West Stirlingshire – pronounced ya-lin, it is the Gaelic word for art – opened its doors last November as the dream of husband and wife Cameron and June McCann.

Mrs McCann, who used to work as a manager for a travel company, set up her own art exhibition company three years ago, displaying her collection twice a year in the family home and at various venues including House of Beauly’s Celtic Festival, Gleneagles Hotel and Inverness Airport.

She soon expanded, opening a dedicated gallery in Drymen which features contemporary Scottish art, gifts and jewellery. Last week, the gallery gained a licence to sell whisky, much to the delight of Cameron McCann, a former police officer, who has long had a passion for both art and whisky.

“The gallery offers a broad range of malts and blends, ranging from £30 to £2,500, many of which are rare and unusual and cannot be found on the high street,” said Mr McCann.

Almost everything showcased in the gallery originates in Scotland, including the artwork, whisky, jewellery and gifts.

“We get our artwork from all over the country, and all of our artists are Scottish except one who is Welsh. He lives in Scotland, though, so we let him off.”

The gallery features works by world-renowned artists and emerging young talent, and while some may think it risky opening an art gallery in the current financial climate, those in the know financially suggest that purchasing original artwork, particularly that of an up and coming talent, still represents a sound financial investment for the long term.

Reflecting on the new addition to the gallery, Mr McCann couldn’t be happier: “It’s a hobby that we’ve developed into a business, with clients all over the country and the world.”

Ealain Gallery is on Main Street, Drymen, Stirlingshire, in the heart of the Trossachs National Park. The gallery is open daily, Monday to Saturday, from 10am-5.30m, and from noon until 4pm on Sundays.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

16 Jan

Interview with John Black, master distiller at Tullibardine Distillery

I have been working in the whisky industry for 50 years now. Having worked my way up through the ranks and experienced at first-hand the whisky industry changing and developing over the years, I know the industry inside out and feel as much a part of it now as it is a part of me.

What the job involves: Of course every day is different but each morning I walk around Tullibardine and speak to the shift workers. We discuss any maintenance issues and make plans for the day ahead. I relay this information to my boss and together we analyse production levels and efficiency and ensure everything is running smoothly and to schedule.

I also give whisky tours to visitors to Tullibardine, including my own connoisseur’s tour for the whisky buffs. I love this part of the job. Quite often I am asked if I ever have a tipple and I always say ‘I haven’t had a drink since 1958 . . . two minutes to eight last night’. That gets a giggle and helps break the ice.

Getting there: I have lived and breathed this industry all my life – having been born in a cottage in the grounds of a distillery where my father worked. My family roots make me part of an unbroken line of whisky heritage going back about 90 years. I grew up playing around the old whisky stills and the delight I found then in the whisky-making process has never left me.

Best bits: Being asked to produce the whisky range of John Black Blends at Tullibardine was a fantastic request. These whiskies are specially selected by me and to see them on sale is an honour.

Worst bits: Certain parts of the job are very hands-on and years ago we used to clean out the stills using sand in conditions of intense heat and then clean the ‘steeps’ with the nastiest smelling acid, it was horrible. However back when health and safety wasn’t an issue, the distillery manager would give his workers a large dram of new or mature spirit to keep them happy. It was amazing, the therapeutic property of whisky, even in the harshest of environments.

Claim to fame: You’d be surprised at who I’ve met at Tullibardine. Last November I met the Australian rock band Airborne who dropped in to the distillery while they were touring the UK. I’ve also had a dram with Michael Howard and the head of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Advice to others: I would simply say enjoy what you are doing. Whisky distilling is a way of life and I truly appreciate being able to spend my day doing something I love.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

15 Jan

William Grant launches The Balvenie travel-retail exclusive

The Balvenie GoldenCask 14yo single malt Scotch whisky will be available from February

Liquor supplier William Grant & Sons is to launch a new whisky from The Balvenie Distillery exclusively in travel-retail. The non-chill filtered The Balvenie GoldenCask 14yo single malt Scotch whisky will be available worldwide from February, with a recommended retail price of £40 ($58).

The Balvenie GoldenCask 14yo was matured in oak whisky casks before a final period of maturation in casks that previously contained golden Caribbean rum. The 47.5% abv Scotch whisky will be presented in the traditional Balvenie tube and its launch will be supported by tastings and promotions at airports.

William Grant global travel-retail director Rita Greenwood said: “We’re very proud of this travel-retail exclusive, which will offer malt whisky enthusiasts a special new taste and will perfectly complement our award-winning range of The Balvenie single malt Scotch whiskies in travel-retail…Despite economic uncertainty, the industry clearly continues to believe that the future lies in offering travellers something special and this exclusive from The Balvenie Distillery is a real treat for the malt enthusiast.”

Article Courtesy of DFNI



15 Jan

Whisky cookbook wins international honour

A COOKBOOK co-written by a former Blairgowrie woman has won an international award.

‘The Whisky Kitchen – 100 ways with Whisky and Food’ written by Sheila McConachie is a UK winner of this year’s Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Sheila lived in the East Perthshire town with her family from 1976 to 1983, and she was one of the original organisers of the Rattray ‘Rising 4s’ Playgroup.

Along with partner Graham Harvey, Sheila now runs the Craggan Mill restaurant in Speyside.

The pair have spent some considerable time learning and understanding the characteristics of Scottish whiskies.

And these findings were used to create a range of recipes that compliment or contrast with the various whisky flavours.

The ‘Whisky Kitchen’ presents over 100 mouth-watering, tempting and easy to make recipes including starters, main courses, sauces, desserts and baking.

Sheila said: “What a wonderful Christmas present! The Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2008 recognises the effort and hard work that Graham, myself and our team at the restaurant have put into researching, creating, testing and writing ‘The Whisky Kitchen’.”

Over 6000 books from more than 100 countries were reviewed and judged this year.

The Whisky Kitchen now represents the UK in the judging for the Best Cookbook in The World Award, with the winner being announced at a grand gala dinner in May 2009.

Article Courtesy of Perthshire Advertiser


Perthshire Advertiser

14 Jan

Outdoor centre develops taste for whisky

Oldmeldrum distillery brewer to host sampling session at Methlick venue

A METHLICK outdoor activities centre and pub that was last year awarded Whisky Embassy status will be staging its first whisky tasting this week.

Glen Garioch Distillery head brewer Kenny Grant will host Friday’s tutored tasting of malts from the award-winning range produced at nearby Oldmeldrum.

The distillery was started at Oldmeldrum in 1797 to take advantage of the fine grain grown in the farming area.

Mr Grant regularly leads tours of the distillery that is the closest to Aberdeen, with Glen Garioch having been put firmly on the tourist map three years ago with the opening of a £500,000 visitor centre created from a former cooperage.

The free tasting evening at Kingscliff will start at 7pm and the skilled brewer will provide an expert insight into the creation of distinctive malts ranging from eight to more than 40 years old. Kingscliff owner and event organiser Louisa Harry Thomas said the Whisky Embassy label involved specialist training for staff in Scottish whiskies and stocking a selection of premier malts, such as Glen Garioch.

“The neighbouring distillery has a wonderful range, and the pub is a perfect venue to introduce both private and corporate visitors to it as well as local customers.

“We hope this will be only the first of many events promoting Scotland’s whiskies.”

“The location of the distillery is of prime importance to the character of the single malt it produces,” said Glen Garioch brand manager Mari Ann Laidlaw. She said the whisky tasting event was a perfect way of joining forces to promote the area’s brands and businesses.

Places will be limited for Friday’s tasting and talk, and should be booked in advance by contacting Kingscliff on 01651 806375.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

12 Jan

Diageo gives Bell’s Special Reserve a premium facelift

Diageo GB is introducing a new look for its Bell's Special Reserve blended malt Scotch whisky in a bid to re-position it as a "trade-up for blended Scotch drinkers".

The new bottle is said to ensure Bell's Special Reserve remains "clearly differentiated as a more premium option" to Bell's Original through the use of a malt whisky-style bottle.

James Pennefather, whisky brand director for Diageo GB, said: "Bell's blended Scotch whisky is in its 30th year as the number one blended scotch in Great Britain.

"The newly-designed Bell's Special Reserve is a great option for regular customers who are looking for something a little more special and it provides an accessible way to trade up to a more premium blend with a brand they can trust.

"For retailers and licensees, the more premium price tag that applies to a more premium brand should also mean additional profit."

The new-look Bell's Special Reserve will be supported through neck collars on Bell's Original featuring a 50ml bottle of Bell's Special Reserve to drive trial.

The collars will also include a £1 voucher towards a bottle of Bell's Special Reserve and an information leaflet to educate consumers about Bell's Special Reserve. On key seasonal occasions, such as Father's Day and Christmas, Bell's Special Reserve will also be available in a gift carton.

Bell's Special Reserve is a blend of malt whiskies, centred around the signature Bell's malts of Blair Athol, Inchgower, Dufftown, Glenkinchie, Caol Ila. The rrp is £17.84.

Article Courtesy of Talking Retail


Talking Retail

10 Jan

Whisky expert lands top job

PAISLEY whisky expert Colin Scott has been handed one of the industry’s top awards.

Colin, who is the Master Blender for Chivas Regal, was named Brand Ambassador of the Year at the Scottish Icons of Whisky Awards in Glasgow last week.

In his role as International Brand Ambassador, Colin travels around the world to meet with millions of existing and potential Scotch whisky enthusiasts.

In September 2007 he oversaw the unveiling of Chivas Regal 25 Year Old, an exclusive new expression which he created to pay homage to the first ever Chivas Regal blend, also a 25 Year Old whisky.

Unfortunately Colin was unable to collect the award on the night as he was in Romania but, speaking from Bucharest, he said: “I am thrilled to have received this prestigious award from the Icons of Whisky. It is a great honour for me and for Chivas Brothers.”

Colin has been with Chivas Brothers for more than 30 years and is based at their HQ in Renfrew Road, Paisley.

His father and grandfather both spent their lives in the whisky industry, so there is nearly a century’s whisky making experience in the Scott family.

The Paisley Daily Express has previously told readers how Colin, who spends hours every day “nosing” whisky, has his hooter heavily insured.

He told us: “My nose is insured but not for the sort of money that you’d be talking about for Julia Roberts’ legs!

“Scotch is 100 per cent natural and your nose is the key to everything. You have to have a sensitive nose that is good at natural flavour recognition. We do taste but we don’t swallow. It is the best job in the world.”

Article Courtesy of Paisley Daily Express


Paisley Daily Express

09 Jan

Whisky boom in the Far East

Firms struggling to keep up with demand

WHISKY companies are running low on vintage malts after seeing supplies decimated by a boom in demand from the Far East.

Whisky bosses claim that supplies of malts aged more than 12 years are running low because of a huge surge in exports to countries such as China and India over the past year – forcing distilleries to resort to marketing six-year-old malts to plug the gaps.

Despite other sectors being hit by the global financial crisis, distilleries are being forced to splash out millions to expand their production capacity to keep up with demand.

Industry chiefs have now admitted there are “supply issues" for vintage malts due to comparatively low output during the 1990s, leaving Scotland low on whiskies aged 12 years or over.


The news comes as The Macallan Distillery in Speyside announced a multimillion-pound project that includes three vast warehouses that will hold more than 100,000 barrels of whisky in its battle to keep up with demand from export markets.

Sales of Scotch in China are said to have risen by around 75% over the past two years, while sales in India have leapt by 36%.

Due to the slow process of producing single malt whisky, companies are now warning of a shortage as demand grows for luxury whiskies abroad.

Nick Morgan, global malts director for Diageo, which produces Oban and Cardhu, said: “Everyone has supply issues, especially for whisky aged more than 12 years.”

Macallan's distillery manager Alexander Tweedie added: “We can't meet demand the way we are going, especially in India and China.”

John Campbell, distillery manager at Laphroaig on Islay, said: “It is a problem we have had even before the boom in the Far East. We already ran low on stocks of 10-year-old, because we didn’t forecast the growth.”

Ian MacMillan, general manager of distilleries and master blender with Burns Stewart Distilleries, which owns Tobermory Distillery on Mull and Bunnahabhain on Islay, said: “There are notable shortages of anything up to about eight years old.”

Rachel Barrie, whisky creator and master blender at the Glenmorangie Company, which owns the distillery at Tain, said: “It is true that vintage malts are in limited supply for all distilleries.

“We have demand all over the world – not just in India and China. Other countries in Asia as well as in Europe and the US have strong demand for all our malts – and we have a varied array of ages in our portfolio.”

The shortage of aged whiskies is said to have been caused by a dip in the drink's popularity during the 1980s, when only 268million pints a year were produced.

Despite this amount rising to 755million pints a year in the early 1990s, production was not increased.

Scotch Whisky Association bosses say the industry is spending substantially to help double its production.

Article Courtesy of Press & Journal


Press & Journal

09 Jan

United Spirits starts bottling of Whyte & Mackay whisky in India, says COO

The COO of United Spirits, NR Rajsekher, said that the company has commenced bottling of Scotch whisky Whyte & Mackay Special in its plant at Nashik, India, reported the Press Trust of India.

According to the executive, this plant can bottle a maximum of 200,000 bottles in a year. In 2007, United Spirits acquired Whyte and Mackay, claimed to be the largest selling whisky in Scotland.

United Spirits said that Whyte & Mackay Special, which was recently launched in India, will be rolled out first to the north and then the southern regions of the country.

Article Courtesy of Drinks Business Review


Drinks Business Review

09 Jan

Far East boom leaves vintage whisky stocks low

WHISKY firms are running low on malts more than 12 years old because of booming demand in the Far East.

Distilleries say they are having to market six-year-old malts to plug the gaps caused by the export surge to China and India.

The industry is also splashing out millions to expand production capacity.

The Macallan distillery in Speyside have announced a project that includes building three vast warehouses that will hold more than 100,000 barrels of whisky in their battle to keep up with demand.

Sales of whisky in China are said to have rocketed by around 75 per cent over the past two years.

In India, sales have leapt by 36 per cent.

Nick Morgan, global malts director for Diageo, who produce Oban and Cardhu said: "Everyone has supply issues, especially for whisky aged more than 12 years."

Macallan's distillery manager Alexander Tweedie added: "We can't meet demand the way we are going, especially in India and China."

The shortage of aged whiskies is said to follow a dip in the drink's popularity during the 1980s, when only 268 million litres per year were produced.

Despite this amount rising to 429 million litres per year during the early 90s, production was not increased enough to match demand.

Scotch Whisky Association bosses say that the industry is investing to doubling its production.

Companies such as Pernod Ricard, Moet Hennessy and Diageo are spending hundreds of millions