Whisky in good spirits

Rosebank restoration; Speyside rises; academy’s China deal

Whisky’s popularity continues to underpin Scotland’s food and drink sector. Restoration work has begun on the mothballed Rosebank distillery, while Gordon & MacPhail enjoyed another successful year and the Edinburgh Academy secured a partnership in China.

Ground has been broken at the Rosebank distillery, marking the start of its highly-anticipated redevelopment under new owner, Ian Macleod Distillers.

The restoration, carried out by ISG, is expected to be completed in summer 2021.

Situated on the banks of the Forth and Clyde canal between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Rosebank has been dormant for 25 years. It ceased production in 1993 when former owner UDV (now Diageo), mothballed the site and its maltings were converted into a restaurant.

The iconic 108ft chimney stack will remain at the redevelopment site which is expected to generate 25 full-time jobs and attract around 50,000 visitors a year to Falkirk.

Speyside on the rise

In Elgin, Speymalt Whisky Distributors, trading as Gordon & MacPhail, has reported an increase in profit and sales.

The firm, headquartered in Elgin and owned by the Urquhart family, saw its pre-tax profit reach £15.6m in the year to the end of February 2019, against £12.9m in the previous 12 months.

Total sales were up 4% to £41m from £39m, with a particularly strong performance in international markets where sales increased 32% to £14.2m. UK sales were down by 7% to £26.7m, partly as a result of the decision last year to exit the UK wholesale operation from wine and beer to focus on the growing premium spirits sector, including single malt whisky and gin.

The company celebrated 20 years of distilling at Benromach Distillery and reported another year of growth and increased brand building activity in key markets. Benromach also submitted a planning application to build new warehouses at the distillery this year as part of its expansion.

Planning has been approved to build a second distillery near Grantown-on-Spey. The company completed another bulk sale of mature single malt whisky stocks for £9m to build up reserves to finance the project.

Whisky academy partnership

The Edinburgh Whisky Academy has signed an international partnership with Shanghai-based whisky school, the Chief Whisky Society.

The Society provides whisky education to bar staff and whisky enthusiasts at venues across mainland China.

The agreement marks the EWA’s first international partnership and was welcomed with a special signing ceremony in Shanghai, attended by Chief Whisky Society founder, David Lee, as well as Edinburgh Whisky Academy managing director, Kirsty McKerrow and EWA expert, Vic Cameron who delivered the first course as part of the new partnership.

The Edinburgh Whisky Academy was founded by Ms McKerrow, who has worked as a brand ambassador for brands including Glenmorangie and Ardbeg and whose forefathers established Mackinlays whisky in 1815.  She established the Edinburgh Whisky Academy in 2015 to fill what she felt was a vital gap in the Scotch Whisky education market.

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