Record figures for Isle of Arran whisky maker

Sales of The Arran Malt topped �3.5m last year. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Sales of The Arran Malt topped �3.5m last year. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Isle of Arran Distillers has toasted its 18th anniversary with record sales and profits despite a fall in visitors to the island.

The malt whisky maker, which celebrated its coming of age at the end of June, said success last year was driven by exports as its brand becomes known among Scotch drinkers around the world.

Pre-tax profits reached £348,000 in 2012, up 40 per cent on the previous year, while sales passed the £3.5 million mark for the first time.

Turnover was £3.6m, against £3.1m in 2011. The rise came despite poor weather that hit the island’s tourist industry hard.

The company said tourist numbers on Arran were down by 15 per cent in 2012 but the distillery visitor centre in Lochranza “more than held its own”, with just a slight drop in turnover.

Managing director Euan Mitchell said the business was going from strength to strength.

“We are developing a portfolio of products to match any distillery which is reflected by the growing interest for The Arran Malt around the world,” he said.

“We are in the ideal place to benefit from the increasing global awareness and taste for premium Scotch malt whisky.”

The company said its export sales increased by 20 per cent year-on-year, well ahead of the total whisky market which saw growth of just 1 per cent in 2012. Exports now account for nine tenths of its branded sales.

In accounts for the year, chairman Michael Peirce said the increase in the value of brand sales could be attributed “largely to the soaring demand for high-margin limited editions of The Arran Malt.”

A special release of The Arran Malt titled “The Devil’s Punch Bowl”, named after a glacial hollow on the island, became the firm’s fastest selling tipple following its release last June.

The company’s 14-year-old malt also gained traction across key markets, Peirce said, while a re-launch of the Robert Burns range in new packaging was also well-received.

The distillery recently launched its oldest malt to date withRhe Arran Malt 16-Year-Old, with plans to release an 18-year-old next spring.

In response to its growing sales, the distillery has upped production to 400,000 litres of pure alcohol a year and built a new warehouse which gives the business capacity to mature 12,000 casks at a time.

This year the firm plans to add new destinations to the 35 countries it already exports to.

The whisky industry noted a rise in demand for single malts and more expensive blends globally last year, which helped the value of exports grow to almost £4.3 billion despite a fall in the number of bottles sold.

Sales in emerging markets such as Russia and Latin America are soaring, helping to offset the effects of economic woes in traditional whisky-drinking countries such as Greece, France and Spain.