£10 million boost as one of Scotland's most remote distilleries looks to go global

Isle of Harris Distillers has cheered a £10 million funding package as it looks to increase spirit distillation and ramp up its exports.

The funding from HSBC UK will be used to expand distribution of Isle of Harris Gin and, when launched, the firm’s Hearach malt whisky to more than 20 overseas markets including the US, Canada, France and Germany. The financial package has also allowed the business to build two new warehouses, located two miles from its Tarbert distillery on the Isle of Harris. The additional warehouse space will hold 9,000 casks - equivalent to some 2.75 million bottles of spirit.

Ron MacEachran, executive chairman and chief financial officer of Isle of Harris Distillers, which has 45 employees, said: “As a business focused on the future, we’re excited to venture into new markets and expand our international footprint - and to introduce more of the world to the bottled spirit from our special island. Achieving ongoing commercial success stimulates global interest and visitors to this beautiful island, assisting it to survive and flourish in the 21st century.”

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The distillery was established in 2015 to support the inhabitants of Harris, both economically and commercially, by providing jobs and boosting tourism to the island. It has twice been named distillery of the year in the Scottish Gin Awards.

Neal Tully, relationship director at HSBC UK, said: “Scotland’s food and drink industry is thriving on the Isle on Harris. The distillery is a great example of a dedicated and robust Scottish business which has put itself on the map, not only in Scotland, but on a global scale too.”

Meanwhile, Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) owner Artisanal Spirits Company has extended its banking facility and sealed a new Malaysia agreement. The Edinburgh-based group said it had agreed with RBS to increase its existing revolving credit facility to £21.5m, from £18.5m, and extend the term of the commitment until December 19, 2025, broadly representing a two-year extension of the previous term.

Bosses said the extended facility provided the group with additional flexibility to expand and grow “all aspects of its business”, including membership and investing in the brand and whisky stocks. Meanwhile, the SMWS has signed a new partnership agreement in Malaysia, migrating its operations in that region to Drinks Alliance.

David Ridley, managing director of Artisanal Spirits Company, said: “We have a clear strategy and a pioneering model to maximise the benefit from favourable long-term growth drivers. We will continue to execute against our growth strategy to deliver a doubling of sales between 2020 and 2024 in a disciplined and measured way with expansion evidenced by our international partnership agreements in territories such as Malaysia announced today and in South Korea in October, two of the fastest growing whisky markets in the world. We have an exceptional opportunity and remain well positioned to capitalise on it with whisky stocks to satisfy all demand until 2028 and 75 per cent of demand until 2033.”

Isle of Harris Distillers is located at Tarbert on the Scottish Hebridean island. Picture: Laurence Winram Photography

The group is due to update the market on trading towards the end of January.

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