Spirits group Gordon & MacPhail tops up top and bottom lines

Stephen Rankin noted the group's ongoing investment in its activities. Picture: contributed.
Stephen Rankin noted the group's ongoing investment in its activities. Picture: contributed.
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Single malt scotch whisky specialist Gordon & MacPhail has seen a top-up of its sales and profits as it progresses its planned growth strategy, including its proposed new whisky distillery in Speyside, as it looks to up headcount.

Family-owned Speymalt Whisky Distributors, trading as Gordon & MacPhail, cheered “another successful year”, with pre-tax profit reaching £15.6 million in the year to February, up from £12.9m in the prior 12 months.

From left: Stephen Rankin and Gordon & MacPhail MD Ewen Mackintosh. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon.

From left: Stephen Rankin and Gordon & MacPhail MD Ewen Mackintosh. Picture: Ewen Weatherspoon.

The firm, headquartered in Elgin and owned by the Urquhart family, said total sales were up 4 per cent to £41m from £39m, with a “particularly” strong performance in global markets where sales were up 32 per cent to £14.2m.

UK sales were down by 7 per cent to £26.7m, which it said was partly due to the decision last year to exit the UK wholesale operation from wine and beer to focus on the growing premium spirits sector. The company celebrated 20 years of distilling at Benromach Distillery and reported another year of growth. Additionally, Benromach submitted a planning application to build new warehouses at the distillery this year as part of its expansion.

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It marked its anniversary with the launch of Benromach Cask No 1, the first cask filled at the distillery. Red Door Gin was launched in 2018, following the installation of a still in the refurbished malt barns at Benromach, and a visitor experience was opened at the site this summer.

The firm was recently granted planning approval to build a second distillery near Grantown-on-Spey, and had completed another bulk sale of mature single malt whisky stocks for £9m to build up reserves to finance the project.

Revamp

Gordon & MacPhail whiskies performed “well”, continuing the business’ practice of investing in high-quality casks to send them to Scotch distilleries to be filled with new spirit and matured for many years. There was a major overhaul of the Gordon & MacPhail whiskies brand, with the portfolio rationalised into five ranges in 2018, as the firm rooted its products in the premium whisky sector.

Gordon & MacPhail managing director Ewen Mackintosh said: “We’re pleased to report another successful year and to be pushing ahead with our planned growth strategy, including the proposed new whisky distillery we’re progressing in Speyside.”

Stephen Rankin, director of prestige and a member of the fourth generation of the Urquhart family, said: “We expanded our brand portfolio last year with the launch of Red Door Gin and our new planned whisky distillery is set to create a legacy for future generations involved in the business.”

Fourth-generation family member Stuart Urquhart joined the board as operations director, and his brother Richard joined as a non-executive director. Company headcount averaged 162 in the year and further recruitment is planned in sales and operations as the business grows.