Spir­its raised

Di­a­geo brings Scot­tish dis­til­leries back to life

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Bradley Ger­rard

TWO re­mote Scot­tish dis­til­leries, whose whiskies have de­vel­oped cult sta­tus af­ter pro­duc­tion was halted nearly 35 years ago, will re­open thanks to a ma­jor in­vest­ment by their drinks gi­ant owner Di­a­geo.

Port Ellen, on the is­land of Is­lay, and Brora, on the re­mote east­ern coast of Suther­land, have be­come two highly sought af­ter whiskies, with pro­duc­tion hav­ing halted more than three decades ago dur­ing a lull in the pop­u­lar­ity of the spirit.

Now the John­nie Walker and Smirnoff vodka maker will pump £35m into re­vamp­ing the dis­til­leries and build­ing vis­i­tor cen­tres at the sites.

The FTSE 100 com­pany still needs plan­ning per­mis­sion for the work although back­ing has been given by David Mun­dell, the Sec­re­tary of State for Scot­land, who praised the sup­port for some of the coun­try’s “most re­mote com­mu­ni­ties”. “Th­ese am­bi­tious new devel­op­ments will cre­ate jobs, boost tourism and pro­duce pre­mium prod­ucts to be ex­ported around the world,” Mr Mun­dell added.

David Cut­ter, Di­a­geo’s pres­i­dent of global sup­ply and pro­cure­ment, said the dis­til­leries should be up and run­ning by 2020 with the first whisky avail­able for sale in 2032 fol­low­ing the age­ing process.

A bot­tle of Port Ellen 1978 can sell for £2,600 while a bot­tle of Brora 1974 can go for up- wards of £2,700. Mr Cut­ter said the com­pany would be care­ful to keep pro­duc­tion lev­els low, with plans to pro­duce 800,000 litres a year of each whisky – a sim­i­lar level to its Oban dis­tillery.

Di­a­geo said the de­ci­sion to re­open the sites was in part be­cause of lob­by­ing by whisky fans and also be­cause of strong growth in the Scotch mar­ket.

Scotch rep­re­sents 25pc of Di­a­geo’s net sales and was up 5pc in the year to June 30, with sales growth in all re­gions ex- cept Asia Pa­cific. Ac­cord­ing to the Scotch Whisky As­so­ci­a­tion, the in­dus­try sup­ports around 40,000 jobs, adds £5bn to the econ­omy and is the sin­gle big­gest net con­trib­u­tor to the UK bal­ance of trade in goods.

Spir­its, in­clud­ing Scotch, have un­der­gone a re­nais­sance in de­mand with younger drinkers more of­ten seek­ing out prod­ucts such as rum and gin in con­trast to beer, which has seen global vol­umes de­cline in re­cent years.

Rais­ing a glass: Is­lay, which is al­ready home to the Ard­beg Scotch whisky dis­tillery, above, will soon wel­come back pro­duc­tion of the Port Ellen brand fol­low­ing Di­a­geo’s in­vest­ment

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