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66% rise in production

Output boost as Speyside signs with China distributor

Speyside Distillers

The distillery will see output rise by 66%


Speyside Distillery has signed a deal with a Chinese distributor which will lead to a 66% increase in production of its single malt whisky.

The agreement is with Luzhou Laojiao International Development (HK) Co, a major force in the global duty free retail market and come on the back of a 34.8% rise in sales of Scotch whisky continue in China in the first half of last year.

Speyside Distillers said the deal will place the company’s spirits portfolio in duty free outlets across China, the United States and other key global markets, and Luzhou Laojiao will also handle distribution of Speyside Distillery products across China in its own retail stores.

John McDonough, chief executive at Speyside, said: “Although our brands have been present in China for a number of years, most of the distribution and sales activity has been within the southern provinces.

“This distribution agreement with Luzhou Laojiao will enable us to move to a completely different level and will help to meet the growing demand for single malt Scotch whisky from China’s urbanised, affluent young professionals.

“We anticipate that the supply demand for global duty free and duty paid within China will have a significant impact on production, which we forecast will rise by around 66% from our current 600,000 litres of spirit a year to 1million litres.”

Senior staff from Luzhou Laojiao signed the distribution agreement while on a visit to Speyside Distillery, which is based close to Kingussie at the foot of the Cairngorms.

The distillery added Beinn Dubh ruby black whisky to its collection in 2015 and, more recently, the Byron’s Gin range.

Managing director Patricia Dillon said: “Our international reach has grown significantly in the past five years and our brands are now present in 34 countries.

“Due to John’s existing business operations in Taiwan when he bought the distillery, we were very quickly able to cultivate a market for SPEY in that territory and it has historically always been a key driver for sales.

“Around 70% of our global sales currently come from that region, but this agreement with Luzhou Laojiao for global duty free and internally within China sets us on a path that will challenge the volume that we have in Taiwan.

“China is a market that we have watched very diligently for a number of years, but we needed the support of a major partner before we could contemplate making the significant inroads that we now anticipate.”

Johnnie Walker investment

Plans to transform the visitor experiences at Cardhu and Clynelish distilleries have been formally submitted as part of a major Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky investment programme. 

The detailed planning applications have been completed for both distilleries following community consultation events and have been filed with the relevant local authorities – Moray Council for Cardhu and Highland Council for Clynelish. 

The plans are part of a £150m investment in Scotch whisky tourism by Diageo, focused on Johnnie Walker.

Under the investment plans, Cardhu will become the Speyside home of Johnnie Walker and Clynelish will become the Highland home of Johnnie Walker, and will be thematically linked to a new global Johnnie Walker visitor attraction in Edinburgh. Both distilleries have long associations with Johnnie Walker and remain two of the most important single malts in the making of the brand.


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