Chivas Brothers unveils refurbished distillery

Chivas Regal: Unveiled refurbished distillery. Picture: Contributed
Chivas Regal: Unveiled refurbished distillery. Picture: Contributed
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Chivas Brothers chief executive Christian Porta has signalled his commitment to building another distillery on Speyside despite recent falls in the Scotch industry’s exports.

The boss at Scotland’s second-largest distiller, which is owned by French drinks giant Pernod Ricard, yesterday officially reopened the firm’s Glen Keith distillery alongside rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead.

Porta told The Scotsman that the Paisley-based firm will press ahead with plans to build its next facility near Carron, in Speyside, on the site of the former Imperial distillery.

Figures released by the Scotch Whisky Association trade body in April showed a 5 per cent year-on-year drop in the number of bottles sold abroad during 2012, although the value of exports rose due to a switch from cheaper blends to more-expensive malts.

Porta said: “We are in a long-term business and, although there’s been a slowdown in the past six-to-nine months, we are still confident.

“The slowdown has been due to the world economy and political changes in China, which have effected the consumption of luxury goods and other imports.

“But all of the main growth factors for Scotch whisky are still there – growth in emerging market economies, even if they have slowed, an increase in the size of the middle classes and the number of high net-worth individuals in Brazil, Russia, India and China, and continued urbanisation as people move from the countryside to cities.”

Chivas Brothers – which makes brands including Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet and Royal Salute – is spending about £40 million a year on capital expenditure to increase its whisky production.

As well as reopening Glen Keith – which was closed by previous owner Seagram in 1999 – it has expanded its Glenallachie, Glentauchers, Longmorn and Tormore distilleries.

In April, Moray Council gave the firm permission to build its next production facility at Carron, which Porta expects to be open by the end of next year.

In 2010, Chivas Brothers spent £10m expanding production at The Glenlivet distillery by 75 per cent and last year opened a “super-premium” bottling hall at Paisley to package up its most-expensive tipples.

In April, arch-rival Diageo – Scotland’s largest distiller and the make of Bell’s, Johnnie Walker and Talisker – unveiled plans to build another £50m “super-distillery”, as part of its £1 billion whisky expansion.

l Blavod Wines & Spirits, the Aim-quoted drinks firm, yesterday announced it has stopped distributing Bruichladdich, the Islay single malt whisky that was bought in July by French drinks giant drinks giant Rémy Cointreau for a record £58m.

Late last month, Blavod revealed that it is outsourcing its distribution work to Hi-Spirits and will instead focus on developing its brands.

At the same time, Blavod bought the Blackwood’s, Diva and Jago’s brands from the administrators of Shetland Spirit Company, having previously distributed the labels.

In April, arch-rival Diageo – Scotland’s largest distiller and the make of Bell’s, Johnnie Walker and Talisker – unveiled plans to build another £50m “super-distillery”, as part of a £1 billion whisky expansion.