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UK-India FTA could double size of Scotch

The The CEO of Chivas Brothers has said the forthcoming UK-India trade deal could double the size of the Scotch whisky market in five years.
Chivas Brothers chairman and CEO Jean-Etienne Gourgues

“We have a duty of care to ensure our use of water is as efficient and responsible as possible.”

Ruth Piggin, SWA

Discussions over the UK and India’s forthcoming free trade agreement (FTA), which could remove the 150% import tax on whisky, are currently underway.

If approved, Chivas Brothers chairman and CEO Jean-Etienne Gourgues said the move could double the size of the Scotch whisky market in five years.

“More importantly in the long-term, there is a huge base of Indian whisky brands in the market, and that there is fantastic potential of innovation for prestige and luxury whiskies, where Scotch whisky is beautifully positioned,” he said.

Ballantine’s and Chivas Regal would be the focus for the business in India, with the first innovation to come from Ballantine’s Finest, followed by Chivas, and Royal Salute “down the road”, Gourgues explained. “We will really target more activities in the coming years for the two brands. The FTA will heavily support that.”

Last week, Pernod Ricard released its financial results for the first half of fiscal 2023, with organic sales up by 19%.


The firm’s Scotch whisky arm, Chivas Brothers, reported a 23% organic sales increase during the six-month period. Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet each experienced double-digit growth, with increases of 34%, 17%, 37% and 12% respectively.

Gourgues said the results were higher than pre-Covid levels, with “very broad-based growth”.

“It’s a good mix between mature markets, which are growing at 22% and emerging markets which are growing at 24%,” he said. “The quality of growth is very value driven, led by premiumisation, and the prestige part of the range is growing at 28%.”

The firm’s North American business saw a 6% sales increase. Gourgues said the US market is “normalising” after growing strongly over the last three years. “The US is growing at plus-6%, in line with the average growth of the market (3% to 5%), which is almost entirely value driven.”

Gourgues also highlighted a number of emerging markets for the business, including Brazil, which rose by 40%, and Mexico (up 21%).

He pointed to India – “the largest whisky market in the world, which is growing strong and has been plus-25%”.

Gourgues also cited Korea, where there is “real growth in the luxury part of the market”.

He added: “We have enjoyed very, very high growth of almost 60% to 90% in those markets.”

The Glenlivet has “historically been strong in the US, but is now growing at a very fast pace in Asia, in particular Taiwan and China,” he added.

The brand will celebrate its 200th birthday next year and Gourges hinted there will be several announcements planned for the coming year.

Gourgues also said the company is “globalising” the Aberlour whisky brand, citing markets such as the US and Asia.

Industry challenges

Scotland’s consultation on restricting alcohol advertising and promotion is also due to close on 9 March.

“I think the fundamentals are right, the desire to have responsible consumption, not to target young people, pregnant women, etc. I mean, it’s absolutely right.”

However, he warned that the consultation could deter the industry of two things.

“The first one is to support our local communities,” Gourgues explained. “We have distilleries in many villages and small cities, and we have been providing local support to them for decades. We wouldn’t be able to do that.

“And the second thing is investment in tourism in Scotland. In pre-Covid times, there have been around two million visitors coming to Scotland for the whisky trade. Other industry players are heavily invested in tourism facilities and brand homes. So this [proposal] will prevent us from advertising anything to foreign visitors.”

Gourgues noted that supply chain disruption has been the biggest challenge over the last year. He added: “The implication of the cost of the energy crisis and the necessity to move into very tangible action with short-term concrete results on the decarbonisation roadmap. These two elements are linked together.”

He also cited the “tremendous” cost of freight, which has impacted the company’s exports to markets such as the US, Southeast Asia, Australia and South Africa.

The firm is looking at how it can reduce the amount of energy it needs across its distilleries, including using MDR technology to lower energy by 50% to 80%.

Gourgues said the company will “fast track a number of initiatives” and aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2026.


Best Whisky Investment Management Specialists 2023

Whisky Investment UK® is an award-winning company dedicated to the wholesale of cask whisky. The firm is approved and licenced by HMRC to store both bulk and casked whisky in duty suspense at any approved Scottish warehouse. We speak to Darren Hughes to find out more about the appetite for this unusual investment as the firm celebrates success in the UK Enterprise Awards 2023.
Dear WIUK,
As you are aware, it has been a long journey from initially being nominated, undergoing the research and judging stages, and finally being recognized for an award. We are now at the stage where your award can be shared with the world.
I am happy to announce that we have gone live on the SME News website with this year’s winners of the UK Enterprise Awards 2023.
The official press release –


Kind regards,
The Awards Team

Whisky industry launches Water Stewardship Framework

The Scotch Whisky industry has launched its Water Stewardship Framework as part of wider sustainability commitments.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has published a Water Stewardship Framework, offering research-based guidance for the Scotch Whisky industry as it works to improve efficiency and make reductions in its water use across the production process.
Water is one of just three ingredients for making Scotch Whisky and is used extensively across the production and cleaning process. Distilleries’ water use varies greatly according to capacity and location, but all are committed to using water as responsibly as possible in line with the industry’s wider sustainability commitments. As part of its Sustainability Strategy launched in 2021, the SWA set a target range of 12.5 to 25 l/lpa (the amount of water used per litre of alcohol produced) by 2025, depending on distillery size and production.
The Framework focuses on three key areas: Responsible use, Engagement and Collaboration, and Advocacy. These three themes aim to provide SWA member companies with clear direction on how they can address water use and efficiency improvement in their operations, while incorporating wider collaboration and advocacy activities. The Framework encourages a collaborative industry approach to deliver on-the-ground improvement projects and influence future policy to ensure the protection and preservation of a vital resource. Previous data analysed by the SWA showed that water efficiency – measured in l/lpa – had improved by 22% since 2012. The SWA will continue to gather data from across the industry to re-benchmark progress and set ambitious targets to take the sector beyond compliance on water.
Ruth Piggin, Director of Industry Sustainability at the SWA said: “Water is a precious resource which is vital as both an ingredient for making Scotch Whisky and a tool in its production. The Water Stewardship Framework is an action-orientated commitment to the industry’s continued work to improve water management, and a serious acknowledgement of the importance of water to nature and the wider environment surrounding industry sites.

“We have a duty of care to ensure our use of water is as efficient and responsible as possible.”

Ruth Piggin, SWA

“The impact of the climate crisis is already being felt in Scotland’s water supply chain, and while distilleries manage this well, we understand that we have a duty of care to ensure our use of water is as efficient and responsible as possible. We’re committed to working closely with stakeholders including SEPA, government bodies and other relevant parties, to further improve the industry’s water stewardship.”

Nathan Critchlow-Watton, Head of Water and Planning at SEPA, said: “Scotland may be renowned for its rain but, as we’ve seen already this year, it can be extremely vulnerable to periods of prolonged, dry weather and with climate change these are expected to become more frequent in the years ahead.

“The businesses that thrive in the face of this challenge will be those that recognise the link between environmental and economic prosperity. They will work with SEPA and others in their industry to build resilience, reduce their water use and have a well-established plan for when we experience water scarcity. These actions will reduce the need for SEPA to impose restrictions on their business.

“It’s reassuring to see the whisky industry being proactive, taking their responsibility to help protect Scotland’s water environment seriously, and contributing to its long-term sustainability for all those who depend on it.”

Download the Water Stewardship Framework here


Sampling Your Whisky Cask

Although owning a cask of whisky is fundamentally about leaving the cask in a secure bonded warehouse to mature, having a sample of your whisky is also a wonderful way of enjoying whisky cask ownership.
Whisky Investment UK® offer our clients the opportunity to receive samples of their whisky in the following sample sizes 100ml, 200ml, 500ml and 700ml.
Samples start from just £35 including posting a packaging.
Clients can take a sample as long as the whisky has matured for a minimum of 3 years and 1 day.
The sample will be cask strength, so adding water is advised especially if your cask has an ABV of over 55%.
Below we explore what is involved when the distillery / warehouse takes a sample from a cask of whisky, they typically follow a process like the one outlined below:
Preparation: The distillery staff will ensure they have the necessary equipment and materials ready for taking a sample. This usually includes a sampling thief, a glass or container to collect the sample, and a funnel.
Cask Inspection: Before extracting a sample, the distillery team will inspect the cask to ensure it’s in good condition and free from any visible defects or contamination.
Sample Location: The distillery staff will decide where to take the sample from within the cask. This could be from the bung hole, a specially drilled sampling port, or by using a sample valve if the cask has one installed.
Sanitization: To maintain hygiene and prevent contamination, the sampling equipment, including the thief, glass, and funnel, may be sanitized, or rinsed with a neutral spirit before use.
Extraction: The distillery worker will insert the sampling thief into the chosen location and extract the sample. A sampling thief is a long, narrow tube or pipette-like instrument that can be inserted into the cask to draw out the whisky without disturbing the contents significantly.
Collection: The whisky sample is collected in a glass or container, taking care not to spill or waste any of the precious liquid.
Tasting and Analysis: Depending on the purpose of the sample, the distillery may conduct a tasting and analysis to assess the whisky’s characteristics, including aroma, flavour, colour, and quality. This evaluation helps determine the whisky’s maturation progress and potential readiness for bottling.
Documentation: The distillery will record valuable information about the sample, such as the cask number, date, volume extracted, and any tasting notes or observations made during the process. This documentation helps maintain accurate records and traceability.
It’s worth noting that distilleries may have variations in their sampling procedures based on their individual processes, equipment, and cask types. Additionally, they must ensure compliance with legal requirements and industry standards throughout the sampling process.

Climate Change Impact on Scotch Whisky: A Distinctive Taste at Stake

Climate change has become a pressing concern with far-reaching consequences across various industries. One industry significantly affected is Scotch whisky production. The distinctive character of Scotch whisky is intimately connected to its production environment, making it vulnerable to the changing climate. This article explores the effects of climate change on Scotch whisky and highlights the potential implications for this cherished beverage.
Water Source and Quality:
Climate change can disrupt the availability and quality of water, a crucial component in Scotch whisky production. Rising temperatures, altered rainfall patterns, and prolonged droughts pose challenges to distilleries reliant on specific water sources. Changes in water quantity and quality can impact fermentation, mashing, and dilution processes, potentially altering the flavour profile of the final product.


Barley Production:
Barley, the primary grain used in Scotch whisky production, faces significant climate-related challenges. Warmer temperatures, extreme weather events, and changing precipitation patterns can affect barley yield, quality, and malting characteristics. Reduced barley production could lead to increased prices and potential sourcing challenges for distilleries, thus influencing the availability and affordability of Scotch whisky.
Oak Maturation:
The aging process in oak casks is a critical step in Scotch whisky production, contributing to its distinct taste and aroma. Climate change impacts forests where oak trees grow, potentially altering the availability, quality, and consistency of oak barrels. Changes in temperature and humidity can affect maturation rates, leading to variations in flavour development and potentially disrupting the traditional aging process.
Shifting Flavour Profiles:
The combined impact of altered water sources, barley production, and oak maturation due to climate change can result in shifting flavour profiles of Scotch whisky. Changes in these factors may lead to subtle or noticeable variations in taste, aroma, and overall character. Traditional whisky regions may experience shifts in their signature flavour profiles, which could challenge the expectations of both connoisseurs and distillers.
Adaptation and Mitigation Efforts:
Distilleries are recognizing the risks posed by climate change and taking proactive measures to adapt and mitigate its effects. Investments in sustainable practices, water management strategies, and responsible sourcing are becoming increasingly important. Some distilleries are exploring alternative barley varieties that are more resilient to changing climates, while others are actively participating in reforestation initiatives to secure future oak supplies.
Climate change poses significant challenges to Scotch whisky production, potentially affecting its water sources, barley production, oak maturation, and flavour profiles. The dynamic nature of these changes highlights the need for proactive measures and sustainable practices within the industry. While the full extent of climate change’s impact on Scotch whisky remains uncertain, distilleries’ efforts to adapt and mitigate can help preserve the cherished traditions and exceptional quality that define this iconic spirit.

Understanding The Whisky Cask Purchase Process

From the many enquiries we receive our clients understand the whisky distilling process, but don’t have much knowledge in respect of the purchasing process? 
This is the question a lot of clients ask, especially if they are looking at whisky casks for the very first time.

Below is Whisky Investment UK’s 6-part guide to purchasing whisky. What potential buyers need to consider and what to look out for. Whisky has been around for 500 years so, there is never the need to rush into buying a cask without knowing all the facts so you can make an informed due diligence decision.

1. The whisky Company you are buying from.

Statistics state there are currently twenty million casks of whisky maturing in Scotland, that’s four casks per resident!

As the Tax and Duty is not due on whisky until it is bottled, HMRC heavily regulate any company who stores bulk and whisky casks held in suspended duty.

The licence given to a revenue trader is called a WOWGR, which stands for Warehouse keepers and Owners of Warehoused Goods Regulations.

This is only issued to a company after several months of Due Diligence carried out by His Majesties Revenue and Customs (HMRC) these stringent checks are on both the company and its directors as they are ultimately responsible for the tens of millions of pounds worth of unpaid duty.  

This license is only needed if you are a revenue trader. 

Whisky Investment UK will issue you with an HMRC Revenue / non-Revenue Status Declaration document to complete at the point of sale.  

2. The stock list (cask list with current prices)

Like buying any asset / product, you should really be shown a full list of what is available including the prices before deciding. Many companies are reluctant to share this information with you instead, only presenting 1 or 2 cask options in your price range often with a commission-based sales team behind the process.

Whisky Investment UK are one of only a small handful of companies that issue a full and transparent stock list each month, due to the fact we have a set price commission per cask approach.

3. Choosing the right cask

With over one hundred casks to choose from, the next stage in the process is to choose the right cask that suits your investment strategy.

The great advantage whisky has over other asset classes, such as property is affordability. With casks priced from £5,000 to £300,000 there is a cask for most client’s budget.

All casks will perform differently, based on the quality of the spirit, the age, even down to the type of wood the cask is maturing in.

Below are some key questions that would help identify which casks would work better for you.

• What do you want to set your budget at?
• Although not set in stone, how long would you ideally like to keep the cask?
• Is there a region in Scotland you prefer?
• Do you prefer single malt or single grain?
• Do you intend to bottle your cask, part bottle, or sell as a cask with no CGT?
• If buying as a gift or investment for children or Grandchild?

4. The management of the cask

The most important part of the process is the paperwork and the management of your cask. Paperwork should include a sales invoice, sale and purchase agreement, sales receipt, ownership documents and an HMRC Revenue / non-Revenue Status Declaration document. We can also issue clients with a delivery order on request.

Whisky Investment UK are immensely proud to have been Awarded “The Best Whisky Investment Management Specialist” at the UK Enterprise Awards 2023. This nationally recognised award is evidence of the careful and personal way in which we handle all our clients and their investments.

5. Storage and insurance costs

To store and insurer a Barrel (200L) or a Hogshead (250L) the cost is around £56 a year, with a BUTT (500L) at £100 a year. Storage is often very overlooked with a standard broker in that most cask is simply sold and sent for warehousing. Whisky investment UK have spent time personally visiting the many bonded warehouse facilities, and trust us when we say some are good, some not so. Our chosen bonded warehouse facilities are state of art, see that casks are turned when required and importantly checked upon for leaks or signs of cask timber fatigue. 

The other costs to consider is a re-gauge of the cask every 5 years. This is done by certain warehouses and checks the levels of alcohol and the ABV (the strength percentage).

6. Selling your cask investment in the future & TRUST

Selling your cask investment in the future & TRUST

Importantly, the cask always remains in your ownership so you should not be restricted to who can buy and sell your cask on your behalf, you should be free to choose any company to undertake future service for you, many companies offer this service as do we. Of course we would prefer to be your go to throughout but that is your decision entirely.

If you are selling the cask in suspended duty, it is most likely going to be sold to another buyer looking to take the cask for a further maturation period so as to increase their own investment. But the point we make here is that your
cask whisky, whilst held in suspended duty at a registered bonded warehouse is safe as houses and at your disposal. Not many other commodities can say that HMRC is closely monitoring the stock, of course HMRC are there to safeguard the VAT but in doing so stops the cask leaving its safe place of storage.

Casks are also sold at auctions and to independent bottlers. With only 32% of whisky exported being single malt and 59% blended, this is a exit route that should also be explored on exit.


Why peat is on the frontline of our battle against climate change

Degrading peat is estimated to be responsible for about 5% of UK carbon emissions, prompting debate over whether banning its use is the answer.

“You’ve heard of ‘tree-huggers’ protecting woodlands, We ‘bog-trotters’ love the wetlands.”

The words of agile ecologist Andrew McBride, from the Land and Habitats consultancy, as he strides across a marsh in Aberdeenshire.

"The point of the dam we are standing on is to hold more water here so the sphagnum moss can actually grow. "Sphagnum is one of the main things that makes peat."

But there is something almost magical about sphagnum moss. It looks like a bright green mass of feathery ferns.

It thrives without soil, has remarkable antiseptic properties, holds prodigious amounts of water and accumulates almost infinitely to make peat.

In July, the company reported a “standout” 50 per cent rise in sales in China at its interim results. “The desirability of what we have to offer surmounts the current situation in terms of the economy,” Ridley said. Graeme Littlejohn, strategy and communications director at the SWA, said the long-term nature of the industry meant it was able to defy short-term economic volatility, noting that at the height of the financial crisis in 2008-11, exports rose by 40 per cent. While it was “not immune to the global situation, the long-term vision means some of the bumps in the road are lessened”.

Peat covers about 12% of the UK and more than 20% of Scotland.

It’s in the fields of the Fens, the moors of the Pennines and blanket bogs of the Highlands.

In places it can be at least five metres deep and across the country holds more carbon than the woodlands of the UK, France and Germany combined.

But once it’s drained and dried that carbon lock is broken and the greenhouse gas escapes.

Degrading peat is estimated to be responsible for about 5% of UK carbon emissions.

One of the contributors to that degradation is whisky. It is key to the process of making many brands often infused with the treasured “peaty reek”.

The Scottish government has announced a desire to “phase out the use of peat for the sake of the environment” and has not ruled out including whisky in that ban.

The multi-national drinks company Beam Suntory gave Sky News a tour of their Ardmore Distillery on the edge of Speyside.

It’s a maze of giant vats, barrels and steampunk engineering accompanied by a magical mystery tour of aromas: malt, smoke, ancient wood and fresh fermentation.

Alistair Longwell, their head of environment and distilling, points out that whisky is responsible for less than 1% of the peat extracted in the UK, but what they do use is vital.

“For our brands and many others, peat is fundamentally important.

“It creates that unique character and flavour that our consumers love.

“A ban (on its use) would have a unique and detrimental impact on what is our standard bearing export – so important not just to Scotland but the UK as a whole.”

His company is helping to fund the restoration of peat bogs close to the distillery under the watchful and appreciative eye of Andrew McBride.

“Government alone can’t do this so it’s very important that companies that use peat, and others that are using the natural environment, give something back.”

But he also believes that wetlands have suffered from an image problem – seen as perilous, untrustworthy and linked with decay.

“Drain the Swamp” has even become a political chant.

“Bogs have been completely unloved for centuries, and they’ve been seen as sort of negative places,” he said.

“But when you actually start to understand them, you get onto them.

“You see the diversity, the different species.

“I think we’ve probably turned a corner now because people are paying much more attention to peatlands.”

The Scottish government certainly is.

Its proposals include phasing out the use of peat in gardening.

This is already scheduled to happen in England in 2024.

In reality, whisky’s iconic status and importance to the Scottish economy will probably save it from the ban.

Expect peat to vanish from the potting shed well before the drinks cabinet.


New aging test could be gold standard for whisky producers

New aging test could be gold standard for whisky producers

Researchers at a Scottish university have found a way to use tiny particles of gold to measure the maturity of whisky, which could help distillers with one of the key challenges in the production process.

Scotch whisky last year accounted for 75% of Scottish food and drink exports, 22% of UK food and drink exports, and 1.4% of all UK goods exports

Chemists and bioscientists from the University of Glasgow developed the test, which harnesses a unique property of cask-aged whisky to measure its maturity.

Each variety of whisky gains some of its color flavor profile from being stored in wooden casks while it matures over a period of months or years. The flavor of the final product is created by a complex mix of factors known as “congeners”—chemicals left in the spirit after it is distilled and other chemicals absorbed from the wood casks, which react with oxygen over time.

The unpredictable interactions of congeners, along with other factors like the size and shape of the cask and the number of times it has been used before, mean that each cask matures in its own way, and in its own time.

To ensure the consistency of their products, distillers employ highly experienced master blenders. They regularly sample the casks to check the whisky’s readiness for blending, bottling and sale as either a single malt or a mixed blend—a laborious and expensive task.

The researchers set out to develop a test which could do some of the work of the master blenders by using  to determine the maturity or “age” of whisky samples.

They built their test on a reaction which occurs when samples of whisky are mixed with a solution containing small quantities of a special type of gold. A chemical reaction in the whisky causes distinctively-colored gold nanoparticles to form in the sample over a short period of time at room temperature.

The researchers mixed the gold solution with samples from 15 different whiskies distilled in Scotland, Japan and the U.S. They also tested multiple samples taken at regular intervals from a single cask over a period of six years, which were supplied by the Scotch Whisky Research Institute.

By measuring a property of each sample known as its localized , they found that the unique chemical composition of the whiskies resulted in the creation of gold nanoparticles with distinctly different shapes, sizes and colors in each sample.

They also discovered that the speed of the production of the nanoparticles was connected with its maturity—the faster the nanoparticles formed, the more mature the whisky was.

The results suggest that the process could be used to develop a quick, reliable test for distillers to measure the maturity of their whiskies, reducing the need for master blenders to be involved in every step of the process.

Dr. Will Peveler, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Chemistry, is the paper’s lead author. Dr. Peveler said, “Age is more than just a number when it comes to whisky—the complex chemical reactions which occur in each cask make it impossible to estimate whisky’s maturity of flavor simply based on how long it’s been aging.

“For as long as there’s been a whisky industry, distillers have been trying to find better ways to measure the maturity of individual casks to help them understand when they will be ready to use in a single malt or a mixed blend.

“What we’ve been able to do for the first time is show that the aging-related chemistry of the whisky controls the formation of gold nanoparticles. That has allowed us to develop a unique ‘fingerprint’ not just for types of whisky we tested but also for how whiskies mature over time.

Co-author Dr. Jenny Gracie, also of the School of Chemistry, added, “Currently, there are a number of other tests available to measure  maturity, which use specialist processes like chromatography and mass spectrometry. However, they are rarely available on the warehouse floor, and if samples have to be sent offsite for analysis, this slows everything down.

“We hope that in the future we can develop this initial finding into a quick, easy and portable kit that distillers can use to measure the maturity of their whiskies without having to send samples for time-consuming tests with specialist equipment.”

The team’s paper, titled “Growth of Plasmonic Nanoparticles for Aging Cask-Matured Whisky,” is published in ACS Applied Nano Materials.


Scotch whisky shows surprising strength in global gloom

Distillery numbers at record high, with exports on track to match or pass pre-pandemic levels

Scotch whisky last year accounted for 75% of Scottish food and drink exports, 22% of UK food and drink exports, and 1.4% of all UK goods exports
A whisky cask is inspected at Speyside Cooperage in Craigellachie, Scotland.

It was among the key drivers of an increase of almost 20 per cent in UK drink exports to £7.6bn in the year, according to advisory firm Hazlewoods. Data from the SWA show that Scotch exports are on track to at least match their 2019 level of £4.9bn, having reached £2.2bn by the end of May. “Many British drinks brands have successfully drawn on their heritage image to establish themselves as premium purchases overseas” and whisky distillers have led the way, said Rebecca Copping, associate partner at Hazlewoods. Ian Stirling and Paddy Fletcher are two Edinburgh residents who are building a distillery that they say will be capable of producing 400,000 litres of pure alcohol a year at the city’s historic Leith docks. They found that whisky’s longer production schedule — it must be matured for at least three years — can have downsides for potential backers with shorter-term investment horizons. “Institutional investors laughed at us,” Fletcher said at the distillery site, which is due for completion in early 2023. They turned to smaller investors instead to complete the £14mn fundraising to build the distillery, while a crowdfunding campaign that closed at the end of July attracted 570 investors, they said.

Ian Stirling, left, and Paddy Fletcher, co-founders of the Port of Leith Distillery inside the facility.

Sukhinder Singh and his brother Rajbir were pioneers of online retail in the sector, starting The Whisky Exchange in 1999. The pair sold the company to Chivas Regal brand owner Pernod Ricard in 2021 and are now expanding into production — in addition to retailing — through their Elixir Distillers business. The brothers are building a distillery on Islay, the Hebridean island already famous for its whisky, and buying the Speyside Tormore brand from the French company. “More and more people are falling in love with whisky,” said Sukhinder, but it will be years before the increased capacity catches up with demand, he added, because “you can’t just turn the tap on”. Artisanal Spirits Company is the listed Scotch producer that owns the more than 35,000-member Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Managing director David Ridley said the high end of the market could be worth as much as $4.3bn.

In July, the company reported a “standout” 50 per cent rise in sales in China at its interim results. “The desirability of what we have to offer surmounts the current situation in terms of the economy,” Ridley said. Graeme Littlejohn, strategy and communications director at the SWA, said the long-term nature of the industry meant it was able to defy short-term economic volatility, noting that at the height of the financial crisis in 2008-11, exports rose by 40 per cent. While it was “not immune to the global situation, the long-term vision means some of the bumps in the road are lessened”.


Rare Ardbeg Scotch single malt cask sells for £16m

The spirit within Cask No.3 was distilled in 1975

A rare cask of single malt whisky has been sold by a Scottish distillery for a record £16m.

Ardbeg said “Cask No. 3” was bought by an unnamed female collector based in Asia through a private sale.

Experts said the sale had surpassed all auction records for a cask of single malt.

Last month, a cask of The Macallan 1988 whisky sold at auction for £1m, after being bought 34 years ago for just £5,000.

The Ardbeg spirit, which was distilled in 1975, was originally laid down to age in two separate casks before being transferred to a single sherry butt in 2014.

It contains sufficient spirit to fill 440 70cl bottles, valuing each one at £36,000.

Islay-based Ardbeg said the butt would be bottled gradually for its new owner over the next five years. Each year, she will receive 88 bottles.

The cask is the oldest ever released by Ardbeg, which closed twice in the 1980s and 1990s before being bought by the Glenmorangie Company in 1997.

The company has vowed to donate £1m from the proceeds of the sale to local community causes over the next five years.

The distillery is based on Islay

The spirit’s tasting notes on its aroma say: “Brazil nuts in toffee fill the nose, followed by linseed oil, a suggestion of flowering blackcurrants, sweet, aromatic peat smoke and a hint of tobacco”.

Ardbeg chief executive Thomas Moradpour said: “This sale is a source of pride for everyone in the Ardbeg community who has made our journey possible.

“Just 25 years ago, Ardbeg was on the brink of extinction, but today it is one of the most sought-after whiskies in the world.”

Andrew Shirley, editor of the Knight Frank Wealth Report, said that the cask sale had “set a very interesting new benchmark”.

Whisky expert Charles MacLean added: “This truly unique whisky is a remarkable piece of liquid history – an evocative taste of what Ardbeg was like when it malted its own barley.”