Highland distillery wins new lease of life after £5m deal

PRODUCTION is to restart at a 133-year-old distillery in the Highlands after the business was bought by a Dutch investment firm.

The Scaent Group has snapped up the Glenglassaugh distillery for 5 million from owner Edrington, whose brands include The Macallan. The facility, which has been a contributor to Famous Grouse, Laing's and Cutty Sark blends throughout its long history, was mothballed in 1986.

The deal has been backed by 2m of start-up funding from Barclays Commercial's Scotland team, with the Scaent consortium contributing a further 3m. It is expected the reopening of Glenglassaugh, in the village of Portsoy on the Moray coast, will result in the creation of up to 20 jobs, with further plans to open a visitor centre there.

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Scottish whisky expert Stuart Nickerson, who has been appointed managing director, said: "The start-up funding will cover running costs for the first year – we estimate it will take six or seven months to bring the distillery back to full working order. Glenglassaugh has the capacity to make one million litres of whisky a year and has high-growth potential.

"The product will appeal to malt collectors, those on high disposable incomes and target markets include eastern Europe."

Jonas Garbaravicius, Scaent group executive vice-president, added: "The whisky market is a booming sector within the Scottish economy and, after thorough due diligence, we recognised that the Glenglassaugh distillery had massive potential and was a perfect opportunity to bring a historic Scottish business back to life."

Glenglassaugh Distillery was founded in 1875 and has been closed several times – first from 1907 to 1931, then again from 1936 to 1959. Important alteration works took place before its reopening between 1959 and 1960. The production capacity was doubled during the same period. The Scaent Group, which was initially founded in Sweden, owns companies conducting business in 12 countries.

The group's core market is in the energy industry, although it has expanded in recent years to acquire companies in markets such as real estate and telecommunications.

The news comes as former distillery owner Edrington revealed it is to launch a 40m expansion of its The Macallan distillery to meet growing demand for the brand.

The deal will increase output at the facility by more than 30 per cent to more than eight million litres of alcohol a year.

Pernod Ricard is also looking to expand its Glenlivet distillery, while drinks giant Diageo has unveiled plans to invest more than 100m in the Scotch whisky sector.

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Exports of the popular drink have recently hit a record 2.5 billion.