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Dec 31

Scots Bars to Become 'Whisky Embassies'
A Novel scheme to create a register of "whisky embassies" has been extended to bars across Scotland after notable success in the nation's hotels. It coincides with criticism this week that Scots bar staff know less about the national drink than their foreign counterparts, which has cost whisky sales in pubs. The initiative is part of the ScotlandWhisky project established to promote Scotland and the "water of life". The embassies must meet certain quality standards and, in return, receive rewards to help boost their business, including an entry on the website and permission to use the ScotlandWhisky logo on promotional material. With landlords throughout the country looking at tourism to supplement their income, the scheme is seen as a good way of increasing sales and widening a bar's customer base. Bar staff can develop their knowledge and a range of skills by attending a training school to learn more about the drink. They include appreciation of the difference between malt and grain whisky, the art of blending, sensory perception and tasting tips. Effective selling techniques are also explained and training materials provided. Chris Conway of ScotlandWhisky said: "Encouraging a better understanding and a real passion for Scotch whisky, as well as selling more of Scotland's national drink, are benefits that whisky embassy status can provide for bar owners and managers no matter where they are." The initial joining fee is £300, of which £150 pays for the training of one member of staff, usually the bar manager, at the Scotch Whisky Training School in Edinburgh. The remaining £150 covers an annual membership fee. Inverness and Dingwall publican and Scottish Licensed Trade licensee of the year Don Lawson welcomed the initiative. "Knowledge makes any establishment more efficient," he said. "This is a fantastic idea because working in a bar is a craft. You've got to learn your craft, and this will add more strength to your craft in terms of knowledge." ScotlandWhisky is backed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise, the Scotch Whisky Association, the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre and VisitScotland. Chris Conway can be contacted after the Hogmanay break on 0131 478 7120.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Dec 27

Rare whisky auctioned for charity
Two decanters of rare whisky are being auctioned by a Norfolk-based magazine team to raise money for charity. Malt whisky was collected from several distilleries by Whisky Magazine for the Make Poverty History campaign. The spirit was created to mark the 20th anniversary of Live Aid and is at least 20 years old. Whisky Magazine editor Dominic Roskrow said he hoped to attract bidders who would make it one of the most valuable blended malts. 'Special' whisky "We're not expecting to break any world records because the most expensive whisky ever sold went for nearly £3,000," he said. "But it would be nice to think we could attract the best bid of 2006. "It is a very special whisky and will make a wonderful purchase for the serious collector." One decanter will be auctioned at Whisky Magazine's whisky show in New York in April. The magazine is now accepting bids for the other decanter.
Articles Courtesy of bbci news
bbci news

Dec 20

Top Prices Bid at Sale of Whiskies
A Top price of £600 for a bottle of whisky has been paid at a North-east auction. More than 200 people attended the sale of collectable and limited edition whisky at Inverurie's Thainstone Centre. Over 360 lots were up for bids and £600 was paid for a bottle of Glenfarclas Christmas Day 1959. A bottle of Springbank Local Barley, distilled in 1996, went for £340. And a 1963 Glenmorangie Highland Malt went under the hammer for £280. A variety of miniatures and pub memorabilia were also on sale, with a set for Whyte and Mackay Royal Doulton birds of prey going for £380.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Dec 20

For the whisky enthusiast that has everything
Those looking for something extra special for the whisky connoisseur in their life this Christmas can breathe easy! A luxury three day whisky tour of Scotland makes the ideal stocking filler and is being launched just in time for the festive period. The tour has been developed by the ScotlandWhisky initiative which has been set up to promote Scotland and its national drink. Tour highlights include a night's accommodation and Scottish breakfast at the 4 star Channings Hotel in Edinburgh and the 4 star Craigellachie Hotel on Speyside. A three-course whisky dinner at the five star Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh is also included, along with entrance to Edradour Distillery in Pitlochry and the Speyside Cooperage near Craigellachie. A tutored nosing at the The Glenlivet Distillery and a VIP tour of the internationally renowned Glenfiddich Distillery completes the experience. Chris Conway from ScotlandWhisky said: "This is a whisky enthusiast's dream - a luxury experience to be remembered forever." "The hotels featured in the tour are both whisky embassies - part of a network of 59 whisky embassies throughout Scotland that are selected by ScotlandWhisky. Every embassy has a whisky bar and staff specially trained in whisky appreciation. Customers to whisky embassies can be guaranteed that they will have a wonderful choice of Scotch Whiskies, as well as a Scotch Whisky menu with tasting notes. Chris said: "The tour gives ample opportunity for people to stop off in Speyside - the heart of whisky country - to sample some of their favourite malts or to try some of the deluxe and more specialist whiskies that are now available." As well as working with other hotels and tour operators to develop a more extensive range of tours, ScotlandWhisky is currently rolling out the scheme to the bar trade. The whisky tour costs £238 and can be booked by calling 0845 859 1001. For a more detailed tour itinerary and further information about whisky embassies and the ScotlandWhisky initiative visit
Articles Courtesy of The Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Dec 20

Whisky group toasts WTO progress
REPRESENTATIVES of the Scotch Whisky Association have returned from the Hong Kong WTO meeting expressing "relief" over significant gains towards facilitating trade in Scotland's most valuable export. The SWA had joined forces with the international trade body the World Spirits Alliance to lobby the Doha round meeting for a range of measures, including the reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers, improved protection against counterfeiting and simplification of customs and certification procedures. "Given that there had been fears that there would be no progress in Hong Kong we are relieved that the whole process is moving forward," said David Williamson, the public affairs spokesman for the SWA. "We are pleased that the ministerial meeting has resulted in an agreement between WTO members, with the opportunity to go further next year. The EU's decision to end export subsidies by 2013 is particularly welcome as we have long advocated the elimination of trade-distorting measures." But he warned that limited progress at Hong Kong, even if better than expected, was not sufficient to allow a let-up in the SWA's lobbying efforts. "Clearly, the first quarter of 2006 is going to be crucial to advancing the Scotch whisky industry's priorities. Our key objective remains improved market access through the reduction of high import tariffs on spirit drinks, for example in India and Thailand, and while much work remains before agreement on a tariff-reduction formula is likely, the signs in Hong Kong were that agreement is possible," added Williamson. "It is encouraging there also appears to have been progress towards an agreement on trade facilitation. It would be good news for an export-orientated business like Scotch whisky if excessive document requirements and onerous customs procedures were simplified." The worldwide spirits industry, including the SWA, is hoping to build on the success of its "zero for zero" agreement in the Uruguay round of the WTO, which secured tariff-free access into major markets such as Japan and Canada. Negotiations during the Doha round comprise part of the SWA's agenda to boost sales in key growth markets such as India and Thailand, where domestic producers of molasses-based spirits are believed to be instrumental in lobbying governments to maintain national and state-level barriers of up to 150 per cent. Non-tariff measures under discussion at Hong Kong included import quotas, licensing requirements and "inappropriate" product standards and labelling requirements. Also under discussion was the EU proposal of a register of geographical indications (GI), an extension of the trade related intellectual property rights agreement during the Uruguay round. EU food and drink producers have advocated a legally binding register of GIs, a move opposed by countries including the US, New Zealand and Canada. Overseas markets SCOTCH exports topped £1billion in the first six months of 2005. Key growth markets were: China +124 per cent to £22m, South Korea +26 per cent to £72m, Thailand +47 per cent to £21m, Taiwan+25 per cent to £44m) and India +19 per cent to £7m.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Dec 20

Jonnie on a run as whisky sales boom
South Africans of all income groups are buying more whisky than ever before, and the burgeoning middle market is "buying up", with the tipple of choice this holiday season being Johnnie Walker Black Label.
Retailers reported that this would be a record year as middle-
income customers bought more-expensive brands than previously.
Norman Goodfellow's managing director Solly Kramer said the elite black market now benchmarked itself with international standards of luxury and "only drank the best of the best single-malt whiskies".
Articles Courtesy of The

Dec 16

Cheers to whisky sales clamp down
TRADING Standards are clamping down on the sale of fake whisky. Thanks to new state of the art equipment, drinkers in Warrington can be assured that they are paying for the real thing and not lining the pockets of rogue traders. A survey, conducted by trading standards, tested the quality of premium whiskys in 40 licensed premises in the town centre and found all of them to be genuine. This is the first time whisky has been able to be tested without being sent to an analyst. Clr Pat Wright, of community services said: "At a time when a lot of the trading standards' resources are being used in the battle against under age sales of alcohol, I am pleased to report that officers are protecting the legitimate consumers." If you are concerned about the quality of drinks that you are buying from pubs and clubs call trading standards on 442678.
Articles Courtesy of This is Cheshire

Dec 16

Refurbished whisky case conveying at William Grants
CONVEYOR Systems Ltd (CSL) has recently completed a contract for William Grants & Sons Distillers to increase handling efficiencies and the flow of cases from a case erector, located o­n a mezzanine floor of its bottling hall, down to a manual packing station. With floor space at a premium, CSL looked to cost effectively utilise existing overhead belt conveyors. This in turn created a challenge as the existing conveyor was located over high-value bottling plant and—apart from requiring a total overall—the conveyor had to be re-routed to feed an adjacent bottling line. Exiting from the mezzanine floor through a fire/bonded door, the overhead part-line was over 6 m above the floor, supported by high level roof supports. Access to refurbish the conveyor was difficult, but with careful planning, CSL completed the task of fitting the existing belt conveyor with new belting, drive assembly and tension unit. This conveyor was then integrated with new sections of conveyors—including belt, powered rollers, gravity rollers and two 90 deg skate wheel bends. Close liaison throughout the project was essential to ensure safety of installation, as CSL had to work at height over expensive bottling plant to re-instate and re-route the conveying line, feeding cases down to an easily accessible packing height of 750 mm. Says William Grant project engineer Paul Murray: “Conveyor Systems provided a very cost effective, integrated handling solution, totally refurbishing the discontinued line and installing new conveyor sections, electrics/controls including a panel located o­n the mezzanine and build back sensors.”
Articles Courtesy of

Dec 15

And now, diet whisky!
After diet cola, it's now the turn of diet whisky. Calorie conscious whisky afficionados can take heart. The UB Group's sprit division is planning to introduce McDowell's No. 1 DietMate -- the world's first diet whisky in the domestic market. Sources said that by launching a diet whisky, the company was exploring the opportunity to address a key consumer need for fitness besides infusing excitement into the whisky category. "Currently, the younger consumers continuously seek variety and excitement from the category and the brand. The growing concern among alcohol consumers is that drinking leads to additional weight and obesity," sources said. The diet whisky is a result of diligent R&D efforts by the company. It will have Garcenia, an ancient Indian herb, currently a rage in many western nations. It has the rare ability to burn excess fat and control cholesterol levels in the human body, sources said. "The caramel content in alcohol is the only source of calories. However, it is used in minuscule quantity for the colour of whisky. However, it is the snacks eaten during the consumption of liquor that lead to weight gain," an expert pointed out.
Articles Courtesy of

Dec 14

Chivas Brothers Take Top Honours at International Wine & Spirits Competition
- Company is awarded "Distiller Of The Year 2005" by IWSC - Second time Chivas has won the coveted award Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of Paris-based Pernod Ricard, has been awarded the title of "Distiller Of The Year 2005", by the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC), announced Karen Cutaia, Director of Public Relations & Events for Pernod Ricard Canada. The competition, which took place in London England, selected Chivas Brothers as the winner of the distinct title after the brand's diverse portfolio of scotch whiskies were put through a series of rigorous blind tastings that are carried out by a panel of industry experts and professionals. "This win really has crowned what has been a truly momentous year for us. The painstaking investment of time and expertise is key to nurturing a consistently great dram and it is a fantastic accolade to achieve the IWSC Distiller of the Year title for the second time in just three years," said Christian Porta, Chairman and Chief Executive of Chivas Brothers. The International Wine and Spirit Competition is the premier competition of its kind in the world and acknowledges the ultimate achievement. It represents a benchmark of excellence and has been held annually for the last 27 years to reward outstanding quality among the world's best wines, spirits and liqueurs. Additionally, the company's individual brands also took away individual awards including its flagship single malt scotch whisky, The Glenlivet Archive (21 Year Old), which was awarded the Morrison Bowmore Distillers Trophy for single malt scotch whisky (over 12 years old); and its Chivas Regal 18 Year Old won a gold medal in the Scotch Whisky Deluxe Blend 18 Year Old category. The Chivas Brothers brand portfolio available in Canada includes Chivas Regal, Ballantine's, The Glenlivet, Royal Salute, Aberlour, Strathisla, Longmorn and Beefeater Gin. Established in 1975, by a merger of two French companies, Pernod Ricard is the second largest operator in wines and spirits in the world, the first outside of the United States. Pernod Ricard has strong distribution networks on all continents. Global holding company is based out of Paris, France with Patrick Ricard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. For more information please visit
Articles Courtesy of CCN Matthews

Dec 13

That drinking feeling
IT CAN be hard to remember what a great time you had at your Christmas party if you are hungover the next morning. But there are many things you can do to guard against hangovers - and quite a few to help alleviate the worst of their symptoms, too. Here we tell you what they are.
When you ingest an alcoholic drink it causes overproduction of stomach acid, irritating your stomach lining. It then goes on to the intestine, where it is absorbed into your bloodstream and transported to your liver, which begins to break down the alcohol (ethanol) into substances which include methanol, acetaldehyde and formic acid. These toxins affect many body systems and processes, causing hangovers.
Much of the problem is caused by drinking too much alcohol over too short a period of time. The liver can break down one unit of alcohol per hour, so if you drink faster you increase your risk of a hangover. Dr Guy Ratcliffe, the medical director of the Medical Council for Alcohol, says that a major contributing factor to hangovers is the dehydrating effect of alcohol: "Alcohol is a diuretic - a substance which makes you urinate - so during the evening you will lose more water than you take in, and thus dehydrate." Cue the headache. Alcohol increases production of digestive acids and irritates your stomach lining, which is why you may feel nauseous. Intense alcohol consumption can sometimes cause the stomach to bleed.
Apart from the obvious choice of abstaining from liquor, it is possible to lower your chances of hangover. Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of blood sugar falling, leading to fatigue and dizziness, which will do nothing to make you feel well the next morning, so guard against this by eating a good-sized, well-balanced meal before you drink, and snack throughout the evening.
The next rule is to drink sensibly. The liver breaks down one unit per hour, so drinking faster will inevitably cause problems. Alcohol Concern, the national agency against alcohol misuse, advises drinkers to inform themselves how much alcohol different types and amounts of drinks contain. Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water, to combat the diuretic effect of alcohol. Long drinks such as spritzers or spirits with mixers are a good way to dilute the alcohol content and make your drink last longer.
"Spacing your alcoholic drinks between soft ones will ease the impact on your liver and, if you drink more slowly, it will inevitably lead to a lower alcohol consumption in total," says Ratcliffe
Most people find that darker drinks - for example, red wine and whisky - leave them with worse headaches than lighter ones, such as white wine or gin. This is related to the congeners of each drink, which are the chemicals that give colour, smell and taste. Some evidence suggests that the congeners in red wine increase both your blood histamine level - as in an allergic reaction - and serotonin levels, which can trigger headaches.
Taking the dietary supplement RU21 is reported by some to stave off hangovers. A combination of monosodium glutamate, succinic acid, fumaric acid, vitamin C and glucose, it is said to work by slowing the production of acetaldehyde and speeding up its decomposition into harmless elements. It won't stop you getting drunk.
"It may mean a more disturbed night's sleep, but if you can drink a few pints of water before bed, you will give your kidneys a head start with getting the toxins out of your system," says Ratcliffe. Another thing you can do is to have a snack before bed, to help stabilise your blood sugar levels.
Dehydration is the usually the key cause of hangovers, so the sooner you start drinking water the better. Help replace lost salts and sugars with the World Health Organisation's oral rehydration recipe: one pint of water with a teaspoon of salt and eight of sugar will set you on the right path. The brain becomes waterlogged as a result of too much alcohol, and no longer fits neatly into our skulls, hence the pulsating headache, so take a good painkiller.
• Over-the-counter remedies work for some - if you can keep them down. Resolve Extra combines the paracetamol with the antacid sodium bicarbonate and caffeine, which is thought to increase the analgesic effect of paracetamol.
• Ratcliffe supports the notion of eating yourself better. "Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can make you feel fatigued, so eating a hearty breakfast will help to settle your irritated stomach, absorb the acid and raise your energy levels."
• Hair of the dog can help delay the inevitable. It is the methanol eliminating process which makes you feel really bad, but this only starts after the body has eliminated all the ethanol. Taking another small drink will raise the ethanol level in your body, and can ward off the worst effects of hangover for a while, but don't overdo it.

Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Dec 4

Whisky profits hit by stores' price war
DISCOUNTING by UK supermarket chains is hitting the Scotch whisky industry hard, a leading producer has warned. Roland van Bommel, chief executive of family owned William Grant & Sons said that the company was looking to China and America for growth after finding few opportunities in the UK market. Grants, whose best known brand is the world’s best-selling whisky Glenfiddich, said the big supermarkets were locked into a price war that had hit whisky prices. “It is not being sold as premium brand which means there’s no real profit in the UK market for us,” he said. “We don’t have the same incentive to be innovative as we do elsewhere. Nobody wins as this will hit the smaller distilleries hard as well.” Last week Whyte & Mackay said it was open to offers for its Invergordon distillery as it continues to restructure its business.The firm was reported to have placed the Highland distillery in the shop window as it seeks to reduce its reliance on low-margin production for own-label spirits for supermarkets. Grants would not comment on rumours that it had turned down a £175m deal to buy the Invergordon distillery. Meanwhile Grants is looking to build its Reyka vodka brand in America. The recently launched vodka is made and bottled in Iceland’s only vodka distillery. “There is a really strong market in the US for premium vodka. We’ve started in a few east coast states and so far it is going well,” said van Bommel. Grants recently announced plans to set up a distribution and marketing base in Shanghai, to tap further into the country’s growing market of malt whisky drinkers. Grants reported pre-tax profits of £71.5m for 2004, up 4.1% on the previous year.
Articles Courtesy of The Sunday Times

Dec 2

Indian tycoon attacks Scotch whisky policy
The Indian government imposes levies of up to 525% on Scotch whisky and other imported spirits, making them prohibitively expensive to most of India's population. This has prompted the industry to complain to the EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson. Indian politician and tycoon Dr Vijay Mallya yesterday launched a scathing attack on the Scotch Whisky Association, saying the body was "extremely hostile" to Indian producers and said unless this changed he would lobby to keep import duties high. The flamboyant Mallya also runs Kingfisher airlines and has been dubbed India's Sir Richard Branson. The beer baron was addressing a seminar in London on Scottish & Newcastle's venture into the Indian beer market. In May, the Edinburgh-based brewer completed the £85m purchase of a 37.5% stake in India's United Breweries, of which Mallya is chairman and is best known for its market leading Kingfisher lager. Mallya, who owns a castle in Perthshire, near Methven, is also an independent MP for the southern state of Karnataka, and so has very good connect-ions in the corridors of power in New Delhi. He said: "The Scotch Whisky Association is extremely hostile to companies worldwide (that are) manufacturing whisky ... if they were universally hostile it might be acceptable, but they are selectively hostile." He asked why alternative source ingredients for whisky were so frowned upon by the SWA? Mallya said a lot of Indian whisky was distilled from sugar cane molasses, rather than cereals, which Scotch whisky is traditionally made from. "The SWA refuses to acknowledge that, and won't let Indian whisky into Europe. As long as that situation continues, we will lobby in India to keep the import duty high," Mallya said. A spokesman for the SWA said this was a labelling and consumer protection issue, adding there are clear European Union guidelines, also supported by the World Customs Organisation, that whisky must be produced from cereals.
Articles Courtesy of The Herald

Dec 1

Distillery's Single Malt is the Top Toast
A Whisky produced at Elgin's only distillery has been voted Scotch single malt of the year by one of the world's leading whisky writers. Jim Murray has given the 1986 Glen Moray top spot in the latest edition of his Whisky Bible ahead of 3,250 other whiskies. The limited edition malt, restricted to just 276 bottles, was launched to celebrate the opening of Glen Moray's new visitor centre last year. Matured for 17 years in a former bourbon cask, it was hand-bottled at a cask strength of 64.4%. Only a few bottles remain, exclusively available from the distillery, and the malt is set to become a collector's item. Mr Murray, whose Whisky Bible is updated annually, said: "Glen Moray 1986 is one of those whiskies that, once tasted, will never be forgotten." The distillery has been producing whisky since 1897.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Dec 1

Baxters Outlet a Major Boost for Tullibardine Complex
Perthshire's Tullibardine shopping complex is showing signs of becoming a key player in Scotland's growing niche retail market, according to owner Kenmore Property Group. The development, just off the A9 Perth-Stirling road at Blackford, took a major leap forward last month with the opening of a £2.5million, 28,000sq ft Baxters outlet. Kenmore, which said it was on target to claim a "major stake" in Scotland's quality retail niche market at Tullibardine, is now looking to complete its letting of the site. It aims to sign up "quality retailers whose profile complements the mix and ethos of the development" for the remaining 10,000sq ft floor space. Baxters occupies 55% of the retail space at Tullibardine after opening a 250-seat restaurant, speciality food stores and whisky, beer, wine, cookware, gift and clothing shops. Audrey Baxter, the food group's chief executive, said: "With the prime location of this new development, we believe this site will be a flagship store for Baxters. "The A9 is probably the key tourist route to the Highlands and our positioning means we can get the Baxters brand across to a global audience, at the same time serving one of our core marketplaces in Scotland." Also up and running at Tullibardine is outdoor clothing and equipment retailer Graham Tiso, whose new 5,000sq ft store incorporates a National Geographic zone and bike-hire business. Chief executive Chris Tiso said: "We are very excited about being part of this new centre and believe it will allow us to reach a wide range of customers who are looking for the highest quality Scottish products." A new speciality whisky shopping outlet with a range of branded gifts and a cafe complements the adjacent Tullibardine Distillery, which gives its name to the development. Visitors are encouraged to take the distillery tour as part of the Tullibardine experience. Fine arts and antique specialist Theme Interiors completes the line-up of retailers now on site. The 49,000sq ft combined shopping and visitor attraction has been developed to maximise a location giving easy access to 22,000 vehicles passing daily and 2.8million customers within 45 minutes' drive. Tullibardine was designed and project managed by Edinburgh-based Project Management Partnership and is the latest in Kenmore's development pipeline following the completion of Sentinel, a 84,000sq ft Glasgow city centre office building, earlier this year.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Nov 29

Scotland's Whisky Distillers Urged to Maintain Enterprising Spirit
A Top-level warning has been issued that the future of the Scotch whisky industry must not be taken for granted. It was made yesterday as distillers and ministers joined forces to help to promote the industry.The new partnership agreement aims to boost exports, encourage tourism, ensure fair tax and regulation, and promote responsible attitudes towards alcohol. The document, Scotland's Enterprising Spirit, signed by Scotch Whisky Association chairman Ian Good and Deputy Enterprise Minister Allan Wilson updates an earlier agreement from 2000. The whisky industry is a vital part of the Scottish economy, supporting 41,000 jobs and generating £800million of income a year. Every year, more than £2billion worth of whisky is exported - contributing £70 a second to the balance of trade - making it one of the UK's top five manufactured export earners. Speaking at the Glengoyne distillery in Glasgow, Mr Good said as modern businesses, distillers were leading the way on the international stage. He said: "Scotch whisky can only be made in Scotland and decisions taken at home today will have an impact on industry competitiveness in the future. "Continuing success cannot be taken for granted. We are therefore delighted to be able to renew our commitment to work closely with the Scottish Executive, building on past co-operation, to ensure distillers can meet successfully the opportunities and challenges the industry faces globally today, and to grow Scotch whisky and the wider Scottish economy." The document says the industry must be allowed to concentrate on making whisky rather than be tied up in unnecessary red tape. In it the executive promises to support manufacturers where EU and UK policies have an unfair impact on competitiveness and will take steps to ensure that the regulatory burden is kept to a "sensible minimum". The document calls for a review of UK duty to reduce the burden on the whisky industry in relation to other sectors of the alcohol market and the executive pledges to support the case for "genuine tax harmonisation" across Europe. Mr Wilson said: "The executive is committed to doing all within its power to provide its wholehearted support to an industry so successful and vital to Scotland's economy. "I am confident that by continuing to work hand-in-hand with the sector, Scotland's whisky industry can continue to flourish and further strengthen its global reputation."
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Nov 29

Executive and distillers plan to enshrine whisky labelling in law
WHISKY industry officials and Scottish politicians are pushing Westminster to ensure new whisky labelling rules are enshrined in law by the Scottish Parliament. News of the development emerged at Glengoyne dist-illery near Glasgow during the launch of a partnership agreement between the Scotch whisky industry and the Scottish Executive . If the campaign is successful, it would be the first time that any legal issue surrounding the industry has been legislated north of the border, although it is likely no amendment to the Scotland Act would be required. The whisky industry believes that the challenge is how best to legislate to ensure that the rules are applicable throughout the UK, given that the new law will originate in Scotland. The Scotch Whisky Association, which represents some 98% of the country's distillers, has already come out in favour of the transfer of power. "It would be a natural area for the Scottish Parliament to legislate in," said David Williamson, an SWA spokesman. The idea is for Scotland to protect the integrity of whisky and its own intellectual property – particularly in an industry which sustains 41,000 Scottish jobs, generates £800m of annual income in Scotland and spends around £700m with Scottish suppliers. Alan Wilson, deputy enterprise minister, who was at Glengoyne to toast the partnership document with Ian Good, chairman of the SWA, also signalled his support for plan. "This is a work in progress," Wilson said. The legislation, which is expected to come into force during 2007, will legally ensure that distillers and distributors stick to new labelling protocols. Designed to prevent consumer confusion or deception, the labels are also intended to improve public understanding of whisky categories, as well as protecting Scotch whisky from illegal traders at home and abroad. Williamson said: "The intention is to now seek primary legislation – a new Scotch Whisky law – which will supersede the Scotch Whisky Act 1988 and Order 1990. "This is likely to be through the Scottish Parliament. "We are already discussing the way forward with both the Scottish Executive and the department for environment, food and rural affairs, and hope that, given its importance to the industry, the proposals will attract cross-party support." He added: "As Scotch whisky is not a reserved matter, no changes are envisaged to the Scotland Act, but we are discussing with the executive and the UK government how best to legislate to ensure that the rules are applicable throughout the UK." While Scotch whisky has been defined for many years, the category descriptions, such as single malt, have been dictated by convention. This has led to a variety of descriptions being used on labels – with, for example, both single malts and blended malts described as pure malts. Under the proposed new labels, it will be will compulsory for whisky producers to use the appropriate category name. The proposed categories are single malt Scotch whisky, single grain Scotch whisky, blended Scotch whisky, blended malt and blended grain Scotch whisky. Additional protection is proposed for traditional regional names, such as Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Campbeltown and Islay – a move designed to defend Scotch whisky from "unfair competition in its export markets". The catalyst for the wide-ranging plan was a recent high-profile row between the SWA and spirits giant Diageo, which saw the maker of whiskies including Johnnie Walker and J&B forced to stop labelling its Cardhu offering as a pure malt. The brand, which had originally described a single malt, was applied to a blend of malts taken from more than one distillery. Meanwhile, the new partnership document – an extension of the 2000 agreement – outlined other areas where the executive can help to make whisky a bigger success. These included plans to increase exports, particularly in emerging markets, ensure a fair whisky tax and to promote responsible attitudes towards alcohol.
Articles Courtesy of The Times

Nov 29

Whisky Galore set to Waft over Barra Again
Plans for a distillery on the Scottish island that was immortalised by the cult film Whisky Galore have taken a leap forward. The two entrepreneurs behind the plan have now bought the water supply they need to supply the £1million distillery that they hope to start building work on in Barra next year. Andrew Currie, who in 1995 built a new distillery in Arran, and whisky expert Peter Brown said the acquisition of the Loch Uisge reservoir from Scottish Water at an auction now allowed them to progress with their proposal. Mr Currie said: "This has removed a major hurdle; now we can start to get the project moving." Mr Currie said he would not be able to get and sell the concept to prospective investors. The hope is to have whisky from the distillery on the market in 2010. Barra became linked to Scotland's national drink after villagers pillaged 2,000 cases of whisky from a grounded ship in 1941. The story was made into a film shot by director Alexander Mackendrick.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Nov 29

Rare whisky lovers pay for a taste of the future
NEW laws to define Scotch whisky categories correctly could be introduced as early as spring 2007, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) announced yesterday. The timetable was revealed after the launch of a new co-operation agreement between the SWA and the Scottish Executive, which SWA chairman Ian Good claimed would "ensure the industry is equipped to deal with future opportunities and challenges". Good said the new "framework" aims to improve co-operation on the most important industrial promotion and trade issues surrounding the £2 billion export industry, which currently supports more than 40,000 jobs in Scotland. On the issue of categorisation, new guidelines agreed by the industry could come before the Scottish Parliament within 18 months. The SWA was in talks with the Executive and the UK Department of Trade and Industry to examine "the precise mechanics of that legislative process and how best to ensure that the rules are applicable throughout the UK". Whisky categories became a sensitive issue in 2003 when a bitter dispute erupted over Diageo's decision, prompted by low stocks, to change its Cardhu brand from a single malt to a "pure malt" [ie malt blend]. The decision was seen by Diageo's competitors as an abuse of industry muscle with potentially damaging effects on the integrity of all malt bransd. The dispute that followed threatened to break up the SWA and led to the setting up of a working group to consider the definitions and labelling issues. It took 12 months to agree on five categories: single malt, single grain, blended, blended malt and blended grain, as well as introducing more rigorous protection of regional names, such as "Speyside" and "Islay". Yesterday, Good said the new categorisation would now "ensure consumers receive clear and consistent information and to prevent misleading marketing". His new joint-strategy document, entitled Scotland's Enterprising Spirit, also set out areas of co-operation including skills development and investment through the Executive's main industry-supporting financial mechanism, the Regional Selective Assistance, and the encouragement of co-operation with the tourism organisation, VisitScotland. The Executive also committed itself to supporting the SWA's efforts to boost exports in developing markets by lobbying against punitive tariffs (see panel left), and reducing the impact of red tape. The Scotch whisky industry currently sells into 200 markets worldwide. Exports have grown from £2.38bn in 1990 to £2.69bn in 2004. Alan Gray, a whisky analyst for stockbrokers Charles Stanley Sutherland, said: "It's high time that the Executive got together with the industry to strategically maximise the benefits to Scotland. Our problem is that separate industries tend to plough their own furrow. The Executive should be bringing whisky together with other key industries like tourism to cross-fertilise ideas. " THE type of Executive/SWA co-operation on trade issues is perfectly illustrated by enterprise minister Nicol Stephen's recent talks with the Indian government, which sought to reduce local and national tariffs on imported Scotch whisky. Stephen argued that reducing tariffs will have four particular benefits for the Indian government: fewer black market products; an increase in the country's tax take; a commitment by Scottish exporters to invest in high-quality distribution networks across India and greater choice and opportunity for the Indian consumer.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Nov 28

Partnership to secure whisky future
Scotch whisky distillers and ministers have joined forces to help secure the future of the industry. A new partnership agreement aims to increase exports, ensure fair industry tax and regulation and encourage proposals for new laws to define Scotch whisky. The document, Scotland's Enterprising Spirit, signed by Scotch Whisky Association chairman Ian Good and deputy enterprise minister Allan Wilson, also promotes responsible attitudes towards alcohol. It will build on an earlier pledge between ministers and the industry which was published in 2000. Speaking at Glengoyne distillery, near Glasgow, Mr Good said Scotch whisky supported more than 40,000 jobs and that Scottish distillers were modern businesses, leading the way on the international stage. "Scotch Whisky can only be made in Scotland and decisions taken at home today will have an impact on industry competitiveness in the future," he said. "We are therefore delighted to be able to renew our commitment to work closely with the Scottish Executive, building on past co-operation, to ensure distillers can successfully meet the opportunities and challenges the industry faces globally today, and to grow Scotch whisky and the wider Scottish economy." Mr Wilson added: "The Executive is committed to doing all within its power to provide its wholehearted support to an industry so successful and vital to Scotland's economy. "I am confident that by continuing to work hand-in-hand with the sector, Scotland's whisky industry can continue to flourish and further strengthen its global reputation." The Scotch whisky industry is one of the UK's top five manufactured export earners, with more than £2 billion of it exported every year.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Nov 28

Rare whisky lovers pay for a taste of the future
THE distillery has not yet been built, its first single malt will not be ready until 2017 and the exclusive members’ club it aims to create is still a derelict old hayloft. You might think that investors who coughed up £1,850 for a rare dram that is no more than a twinkle in its creator’s eye might be advised to take more water with it. Already, though, more than 330 whisky lovers have paid that for the privilege of being first in the queue for this new private members distillery. In its glossy brochures the Ladybank private distillery in Fife is described as a “luxurious country club with one difference — here the activity is focused on the special mystique that is the production of fine single malt whisky”. But as he strolled around the empty old mill intended to be a sort of “your good health club”, the distillery’s founder, James Thomson, admitted yesterday that it required a leap of imagination to see how his dream would take shape. Although architects’ plans have been circulated to members, the empty old farm buildings at the end of a narrow track will not begin to be converted until next spring. Production will not start for another year after that. The cost of the project is estimated at £2.7 million, of which more than £1 million has already been raised. The empty cattle shed destined to become the distillery’s mash room was covered in mud and the feathers of dead birds yesterday. In the old hayloft across the courtyard, which will be the club’s private dining room, the wind howled in through a hole in the roof and an old plough horse bridle lay abandoned on the floor. Mr Thomson envisages his members attending whisky-making classes in the converted 18th century mill or taking a stroll in an adjacent “secret Victorian garden”, with rockeries, grotto and a pond. Those especially pressed for time will be able to land their helicopters on the lawn. In return for their payment, a maximum of 1,250 members will be entitled to six bottles of single malt whisky per year for 50 years, starting in 2017, when the first Ladybank malt will be ready to drink. Whisky production will be on a small scale, with about 25,000 litres distilled per year compared with between one and two million for most whisky distilleries. The whisky will be shared among members and “VIP customers” with little, if any, sold commercially. Members will also have access to the rooms, dining area and library of the adjoining Ladybank private members’ club, expected to be completed by 2007. One investor, Bengt Larsson, 59, said that the idea of owning part of a distillery was unique. Mr Larsson, an IT consultant who lives near Stockholm, said: “It is definitely a lot of money, but I wasn’t that fast to put it up and I had a couple of weeks to think about it. “I really believe in the project. I have been over twice and I love the site. When you go there you feel you are involved with it.” The second tranche of 250 membership places is now on sale, this time at £3,250 each. Mr Thomson is even hoping to interest Chinese enthusiasts in the project. He said: “Our members will be able to decide how they want their whisky, whether they want it peaty or not too peaty, how they want it bottled. “In an age where people want access and control, this is all about getting the whisky lover behind the scenes. It is a bit like sitting down with Gordon Ramsay for dinner and being able to tell him exactly what you want to eat.” And, it’s true, investing in an upmarket drink factory is far less risky than trying to tell Gordon Ramsay exactly what you want to eat.
Articles Courtesy of The Times

Nov 28

Jim Beam high on local operations
Fresh investments to strengthen Teacher’s brand, launches of int brands. Jim Beam Brands, the spirits and wine business arm of the $7 billion Fortune Brands Inc, which acquired more than 20 leading international liquor brands, including Teacher’s Scotch whisky, from Pernod Ricard recently, has ambitious plans to further strengthen its market share in India. The company would pump in fresh investments in India to expand the market by increasing its marketing personnel and promotional activities. Jim Beam Brands is also planning to introduce four to five new brands from its international portfolio in India, said Rupert Patrick, vice-president (global travel and retail and affiliates), Jim Beam Brands. Patrick, however, declined to reveal the size of investment for the market expansion activities planned for India. Teacher’s Scotch whisky currently enjoys about 45 per cent market share in India in the bottled-in-India Scotch segment. Rupert Patrick, who was in the city to attend the Teacher’s Achievement Awards 2005, said that Jim Beam has keen interest in the growth of Teacher’s Scotch portfolio in India. “We will invest in the continued growth of our leading brands with a strong emphasis on marketing. The overall strategy includes leveraging our broader and stronger portfolio to support brand growth and capitalise on new international growth opportunities,” he added. The Illinois-based Fortune Brands had recently completed the acquisition of the spirit and wine brands and related assets from Pernod Ricard following Pernod’s acquisition of Allied Domecq, one of the leading wine and spirit companies in the world. Fortune is currently in the process of integrating the businesses of the acquired entity globally. The global acquisition of Allied Domecq business includes international brands such as Teacher’s Scotch whisky, Souza tequila, Courvoisier cognac, Canadian Club whisky, Laphroaig single malt Scotch and Clos du Bois wines. Fortune Brands is also acquiring leading national brands in the UK, Spain and Germany and the distribution operations of Allied Domecq in these markets for California wine and Pernod Ricard’s Larios brand and the production facilities related to the brands. Patrick said that the acquisition of these brands will more than double the revenue of Jim Beam Brands and place it among the top four spirits companies in the world.
Articles Courtesy of Business Standard

Nov 26

Record Tonnage of Grain handled by Farmer-owned Company
East of Scotland Farmers, the Coupar Angus-based grain co-operative, has reported increased turnover and profits. The farmer-owned business said pre-tax profits rose £43,000 to £148,000 on turnover that was up £246,000 at £8.46million in the year to May 31. Chairman Bob Morris said East of Scotland Farmers had handled a record tonnage of grain in the year from its 130 grain suppliers. General manager Robin Barron believed changes were imminent in the malting barley market, where East of Scotland works in handling, storing and marketing its members' grain as well as supplying fertiliser, seed and providing a contracting operation. He said: "The (malting) sector will continue to focus on the requirements of the Scotch whisky industry, at the expense of brewing malt for export. Growers will increasingly have to produce a specific variety for a specific market within a stipulated specification." Mr Barron said if malting barley prices are to recover from current lows, producers should only grow it to contract. The fact that many continue to grow malting barley without an end market in sight resulted in oversupply and poorer prices for everyone in the chain. He added: "At East of Scotland Farmers, strong relations with both Diageo and Greencore, mean that members are well placed to be among the industry's survivors."
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Nov 26

Whisky Around the World
The French do it more than us, the Russians show off while doing it, the Japanese love doing it more than anyone and the Chinese often do it all together - standing up and very fast. Drinking whisky has never been more popular and it is now enjoyed in more than 100 countries worldwide The theme for St Andrew's Day this year is "One Scotland, Many Cultures", and since whisky is enjoyed by more people and more cultures than any other Scottish product, it seems only appropriate to celebrate its success by looking at all the different ways in which more than a billion bottles of whisky a year are now enjoyed everywhere from Chile to Scandinavia and from Mumbai to New England. Today, across the world, an average of more than 1,000 measures of Scottish whisky are being drunk every second of every day. And if you stacked up all the bottles of Scottish whisky that were sold last year, they would reach more than three-quarters of the way to the moon. Thailand is the only country where almost as many women drink whisky as men. But although it is now the third biggest whisky market, most people are only just discovering the appeal of single malt whiskies. The Glenlivet, for example, is only just about to be launched there. Ladies in Hong Kong have begun a major new trend that is sweeping through China - mixing Scotch whisky with green tea - they regard it as much healthier and more delicious than other alcoholic drinks. In southern Europe, by far the most common way to drink whisky is with coke, and since everyone knows it would be sacrilege to drink a single malt in such a way, sales are generally much lower than in northern Europe. The French drink more whisky than the British and three times more than the Germans, and they are particularly keen on Scottish malts. In fact, they drink more malts than any other country - even the US - so a bottle of whisky makes a great present to take to France. In Scandinavia, there are such high taxes on spirits that a good bottle of whisky can cost as much as £100. More whisky is consumed in India than in any other nation. Most of it is relatively inexpensive, but single malts have recently begun to attain a cult following, and a highly competitive craze for collecting as many different brands as possible is now spreading across the country. Probably the most dramatic way of drinking whisky can be found in China. A ritual known as a "yam seng" (which roughly equates to "bottoms up") starts with the "leader", or most senior person at the table, standing up. He then gets everyone around the table to stand and join him in chanting "yaaaaaaaaaam" loudly and for as long as possible. Just as people are finally running out of breath, everyone shouts "seng" and downs their glass of Scotch whisky in one go. At a large party, each table will normally do one "yam seng" on their own and another, as a way of showing their respect, with the centre table - where all the most important people sit. VIPs may have to perform 10 or more "yam sengs" and somehow remain sober. A man who becomes rowdy or loses control of himself would suffer a loss of face and be regarded as weak or foolish, whereas a man who can drink a lot of whisky without any effect is thought of as strong and trustworthy. In Korea, an evening meal is usually not meant to be enjoyed, it is merely designed to fill people's stomachs and prepare them for an evening spent enjoying good whisky with friends. Scottish whisky has really taken off in South Korea over the last few years and single malts are now hugely popular. In South America, single malt whiskies are only just starting to become popular in the most affluent sectors of society in Chile and Argentina. There are many people in Australia and New Zealand with Scottish roots who celebrate St Andrew's Day with a taste of the old country - often in the form of a wee dram. Although most people usually drink beer, that doesn't mean that a bottle of single malt won't be very much appreciated. Just don't be surprised if you end up drinking it on the beach one evening with a "barbie". It will taste fantastic in the sea air. The Scots have a rather nice custom of offering a visitor or a tradesman a wee dram - especially when they live somewhere rather remote. Whisky is more than just a drink in Scotland; for many, it is a part of everyday life. Raising a glass of whisky is the perfect way to celebrate all that's best about Scotland - whether you live in Shetland or Shanghai.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Nov 24

Hic, hic, hurray - a World Whiskies Conference!
LONDON: Scotland - the home of Scotch - will be the venue of the first World Whiskies Conference in April 2006 to discuss latest trends in the industry, including the large markets in India and China. This year, China has already driven the half-year figures for worldwide sale of Scotch beyond the one billion pound barrier - the first time since 1997. But industry sources say there is growing frustration that major markets such as India had in place high import duties on Scotch that prevented the expected growth in sales. Russia and countries in Eastern Europe are also said to be 'emerging spirit-drinking markets'. India imposes a standard import tax of 150 percent plus a further variable duty on Scotch and other imported spirits. Some Indian states also levy an additional state tax over and above this charge. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) considers this to be double taxation, and in breach of World Trade Organisation regulations. The overall tax burden on imported spirits in India varies between 212.5 percent and 525 percent. Although around 90 million cases of spirits are sold in India each year, Scotch accounts for less than one percent of this market, with exports to India last year accounting for 14 million pounds. The SWA believes the tax system is spawning grey market imports and fake versions of well-known Scotch brands. The two-day global whisky summit from April 20 next year - the brainchild of former Glenmorangie marketing director Ian Buxton - will aim to tackle a number of key issues such as counterfeiting and growth in emerging markets. Buxton told the media: "There are other conferences that focus on the spirits industry but we wanted to create something that is specifically for the global whisky industry. It is the first time that anyone has put on an in-depth focused conference like this that spans the whole sector. It is a global industry with a huge presence in America, Canada, Ireland and Japan." Leonard Russell, managing director of Glengoyne distillery and a member of the advisory panel said: "The main subject that is dominating the industry right now is China. "The market is still quite small but it looks like it could be quite big, and the industry will be focusing on that to see how big it could be. That is the medium to long-term hope for the industry." The Scotch industry has been pleasantly surprised at the large growth in sales this year in China, where the latest fashion of the middle class is to consume and offer Scotch laced with green tea. The concoction is reported to be particularly popular in China as a tipple for friends visiting a bar, where they fill a jug with ice, pour in some whisky and then top it up with green tea. Scotch dealers never imagined their drink would be put to such use. A spokesman of SWA said: "Personally, I wouldn't touch it for all the tea in China but different people have different tastes and there's a range of ways to enjoy Scotch whisky."
Articles Courtesy of New Ind Press

Nov 23

Christmas cask of whisky will be ready presently
LADIES, now listen here! Unless you're afflicted by Attention Deficit Disorder (evidently there's a lot of it about), I don't want excuses. It's time to ponder what to give the man in your life for Christmas, the man who's got everything. Here's the very dab. A cask of Scotch. He'll love you for it. And he won't leave you. Not for ten years anyway. The Tullibardine Distillery at Blackford, Perthshire, will do you a cask of new spirit, made from malted barley, yeast and water, and stamp your man's name and number on it. But he can't start guzzling the nectar on Christmas Day, so if he's an alcoholic, obviously you'll have problems. The distillery up there, run by Edinburgh entrepreneurs Doug Ross and Mike Beamish, store it in their warehouse, by law, and allow it to mature into Tullibardine single highland malt whisky, 40 per cent vol. The stuff to put hairs on his chest. Meantime, for a stocking filler, a chest wig. Stop chuntering, Gibson, and get to the bottom line, you're screaming. Oh, you mean cost? A mere £790, including storage and excluding duty and VAT. You're always free, the pair of you, to nip up the road and give Mr Wonderful's personal cask an affectionate pat. Ten years hence it will hatch 350 bottles. I'm dribbling already just scribbling about it. Delightful double act It could have become a nut house. But no, Little Britain's Matt Lucas and David Walliams, a sell-out at the Playhouse at the weekend, behaved impeccably in the hotel next door, the Glasshouse. Its general manager Daniel Pereira admits: "Having seen their TV exploits, I was a bit apprehensive. Good as gold, they were polite and generous to the staff. "They enjoyed their stay with us so much that they're coming back to the Glasshouse in February for two more Playhouse gigs." The hotel's carpets survived intact. We are all relieved. Boys against Bairns We have the technology. An electronic scoreboard now decorates Easter Road's south stand. Alas, we don't have a defence. At least not for 90 minutes on Saturday. A right bunch of wallies walloped by Falkirk. And, alas again, we no longer have Russell Latapy. How we could have used a player of his skill and maturity in the middle of the park. Man among boys. Nightmare on Easy Street for Falkirk. But great value for neutrals (yet to meet one, by the way). You ask 1, Do you know that a member of the Dubai royal family owns Highland Spring water? 2, Why did Steve Cardownie, who defected from Labour to SNP, cast a crucial vote with Labour that kept transport bungler Andrew Burns in his job? Replies 1, No. But I'll keep it in mind. 2, Don't ask me, I try not to get involved in local politics. What's forever happening at Westminster is sleazy enough. Last words . . . apropos the delights of Dubai, presented for your delectation in a previous column, remember that once you've seen one shopping centre, you've seen a mall.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Nov 23

Glenfiddich praises itself with angel-themed mailing
Glenfiddich: angel-themed mailer LONDON – Partying angels show Glenfiddich drinkers why the whisky is superior to others in a relationship programme mailing created by Presky Maves. The envelope stands out on doormats because it is illustrated with a pre-Raphaelite angel blowing a trumpet under which the recipient's address hangs. Presky Maves developed the angel angle after whisky buyers told client researchers that when they are faced with three similarly priced brands on the shop shelf, they will buy the single malt Scotch whisky that has spent the most time aging in the cask. Compared with its immediate competitors in the single malt market, Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old Special Reserve is matured for two years longer. Presky Maves' creative centres on the generally well-known whisky tale, the "angel's share", the name for the 2% of the spirit that permeates through the cask into the air during the maturation process. Inside the envelope, further illustrations and copy push the theory that the angels around the Glenfiddich distillery must have a longer, and party better than those at distilleries that only mature their whisky for 10 years. Stuart Woodlington, creative director at Presky Maves, said: "We could have just said Glenfiddich matures its whisky for two years longer, but we think this is a truly engaging idea and the beautiful art direction really reflects the festive season." If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum.
Articles Courtesy of Brand Republic

Nov 21

Famous Grouse Director Gets £100,000 Rise
The highest-paid director at Glasgow whisky maker Edrington Group was paid £417,000 in the last financial year. The annual report released at the weekend by Companies House said the unnamed director's salary package included £78,000 from an annual incentive plan and £20,000 from employee share schemes. The top earning director is understood to be chief executive Ian Curle. The previous year he got £310,000 with no incentive plan or share scheme paid. The company said in July when it released the results for the year to the end of March that competitive pricing in the sector, particularly around Christmas, had hit its annual profits. Underlying profits still edged up 3.7% in the year to March 31. Edrington's key brands are The Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark, The Macallan and Highland Park.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Nov 21

New warning to Maltsters
Further rationalisation is required by maltsters across Europe if overcapacity in the sector is to be resolved. Euan Macpherson, the chairman of the Maltsters Association of Great Britain, said 360,000 tonnes of capacity had already been taken out in the UK and Europe. Maltings closed in Scotland include those at Carnoustie and Kirkcaldy. But Mr Macpherson said more had to be done, even if it resulted in the UK industry suffering more pain. He added: "The UK closures are directly linked to lost export sales, and losing 160,000 tonnes of malt exports will mean a reduction of UK barley purchases for malting this year. "Lost sales of this magnitude means a reduction of overseas earnings of around £28million." Farmers were, however, reassured by Mr Macpherson that barley would still be required with an expected 1.7million tonnes likely to be bought by UK maltsters next harvest for both the brewing and distilling sectors. But the question being asked by many farmers is how maltsters and their customers can justify current prices. Distillers are currently reporting increased profits on whisky they made with barley that a decade ago was costing about £140 a tonne; £60 more than they pay currently. There are also few brewers who have seen profits fall in the last year. At the same time, though, many arable farmers are producing grain at a loss. Mr Macpherson said his members required increased selling prices if they are to address escalating energy costs. These too have also hit farmers, as well as every other business sector. The chairman said the UK's lead on malt assurance and brand protection through its new Assured UK Malt scheme should have helped address issues selling product overseas. But he said new maltings coming into production elsewhere in the world had worsened the situation, with British product again either being sold at minimal margin or at a loss in an oversupplied global marketplace. Russia too had moved from being an important customer of the British industry to becoming a potential exporter of malt after adding additional production capacity. Mr Macpherson said maltsters in Europe were continuing to fight for a better deal globally. Many overseas competitors had set up bilateral trade agreements which could effectively freeze the European sector out of world markets. Mr Macpherson added: "EU maltsters are urging the European Commission to address this issue through the WTO. If multilateral trade arrangements are stalled, then the EU should consider the bilateral route before we are further disadvantaged." .
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Nov 20

Distiller plans a dram in Shanghai
THE company behind one of the world’s most famous malt whisky brands, Glenfiddich, is to set up its own business operations in China, writes John Penman. Independent family-owned distillers William Grant & Sons is making the move to increase opportunities for its portfolio of premium spirits brands. The new company, William Grant & Sons Shanghai, will be operational from January next year as the company seeks to exploit the Chinese market. The Chinese business, based in Shanghai, will have national coverage but focus on four key provinces — Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdong and Fujian. William Grant & Sons’ new operations in China are part of the company’s strategy to focus on developing the market for its brands, which include Glenfiddich, Grant’s, The Balvenie and the recently acquired Raynal French brandy. Emerging spirit-drinking markets such as China, Russia and eastern Europe have injected much-needed sales into the whisky industry. Figures from the Scotch Whisky Association show for the first six months of this year that a boom in exports to China helped half-year figures for worldwide sales of Scotch whisky break through the £1 billion barrier, the first time it has happened since 1997. Roland van Bommel, William Grant & Sons’ chief executive, said he believed the move came at the right time for the company. “The economic growth rate in China combined with recent significant sales growth in Scotch whisky and other premium spirits categories offer a great opportunity for our business,” he said.
Articles Courtesy of The Sunday Times

Nov 19

Landlords are being issued with a new code of conduct to tackle Britain's alcohol problems
THE biggest names in the drinks industry yesterday unveiled a new code of conduct designed to curb Britain's chronic problems with alcohol. They claimed the guidelines would ensure that landlords promote a "sensible drinking message" that will reduce dramatically the alcohol-fuelled violence that is the scourge of town and city centres at the weekend. But a leading alcohol charity last night poured scorn on the new code and said it lacked "teeth" as it did not carry the threat of harsh penalties for businesses that failed to comply. Alcohol Concern's chief executive, Srabani Sen, said: "The guidance needs to have teeth. It needs to have sanctions for not complying. It is very important that the industry themselves act to clamp down on bad practices." The drinks industry code launched in Manchester yesterday was developed in association with the government. It sets out measures to ensure that alcohol is advertised, marketed and sold responsibly. In its eight guiding principles, the code reminds the drinks industry that it must not promote its produce to under-18s, make claims that alcohol can improve someone's social, sexual or physical performance and it must actively discourage people from illegal activities, including drink driving. So far 16 industry bodies from across the UK, including the Scotch Whisky Association, representing pubs, bars, shops and restaurants have signed up. The launch of an industry code of conduct comes in the wake of farcical scenes in the Scottish Parliament as MSPs plunged Scotland's licensing laws into confusion. Despite a pledge to redraw the law to combat binge drinking and alcohol- fuelled violence, the politicians ultimately voted for 24-hour pub opening while restricting by two hours in the morning the times alcohol can be sold in shops. Campaigners reacted with dismay, claiming that three years of consultation and debate had been ignored as MSPs had ultimately voted against the majority views of the drinks industry. Paul Goggins, a Home Office minister, said: "The industry has a clear responsibility to ensure that bars, off-licenses, supermarkets and clubs are run in a way that promotes good practice." He warned that legal action might be taken against businesses that flouted the guidelines, although no specific charge has been created to punish a breach of the code. Alcohol Concern yesterday published its own charter for the drinks industry to stop alcohol misuse. And it called on pub owners to police themselves more strictly after Holyrood's changes to the licensing laws. The charity said that it wanted licensees to crack down on alcohol sales to drunk or underage customers. It also urged landlords to rule among themselves to stop "irresponsible" drinks promotions, which have been blamed for binge drinking. A spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association, which co-ordinated the development of the new code, said the industry was "determined to promote the highest possible standards". He added: "We recognise that we have a role to play in addressing alcohol misuse, and this shows our commitment to working with the government to tackle these problems."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Nov 19

Rushin' to Buy Whisky
SINGLE malt whisky is on course to be the biggest selling imported spirit in Russia for the first time in almost 200 years. Scots malts are expected to sell more than traditional favourite Cognac this year. It will be the first time since 1812, when Napoleon invaded Russia, that Cognac has been knocked off the top position. The biggest selling single malts in Russia are currently Glenfiddich, Macallan, Glenmorangie and Bruichladdich. Experts say more than 100,000 litres - around 150,000 bottles - will be sold by the end of this year, with malt exports to Russia breaking the £8million barrier for the first time. Mark Reynier, chief of Islay's independent Bruichladdich distillery, said: "For a small independent distiller such as ourselves to be the fourth largest seller in Russia is a real David and Goliath story." Dominic Roskrow, editor of Whisky Magazine, said: "Whenever a country gains wealth, the people want to buy luxury goods and, in Russia, Scotch malt whisky is considered one of those things." Premium vodka is the biggest selling Russian top end spirit, with 13million litres sold last year.
Articles Courtesy of The Daily Record

Nov 18

Pernod ready to cull Scots workforce
PERNOD Ricard has kicked off a major review of its operations in Scotland in what looks to be the beginning of a much-expected clear-out of the former Allied Domecq workforce - a move that could result in hundreds of jobs being lost north of the Border. Speculation that Pernod, the world's second largest drinks company, is to slash Allied's 1,200-strong workforce in Scotland has been rife since its £7.6 billion takeover in July. News that a strategic review has now started, with a view to cutting excess capacity, is the latest sign that the integration and consolidation process has started in earnest. When the deal was completed, analysts said Pernod would be left with an overcapacity in Scotland and would have to "rationalise" certain functions to achieve the £300 million savings it is targeting. An industry insider told The Scotsman yesterday that a review had now started in earnest. HR and communications teams have both been laid off, and other moves could result in significant Scottish job losses next spring, when it is expected to be finished, he said. "The whisper in the Scotch whisky industry is that they're looking to centralise all bottling at Kilmalid [Dumbarton], which is bigger and more modern, plus it has plenty of room for expansion," he told The Scotsman. "The Chivas bottling plant at Paisley could be closed and the land sold off for development, while the bottling plant at Newbridge also looks to be under threat." The source said Pernod was also looking at its brand portfolio to determine "which ones they want to retain and grow and which other ones could be sold". Pernod already owns Chivas Brothers and Glenlivet in Scotland and has two large new facilities at Paisley and Newbridge, to the west of Edinburgh, employing 500 and 150 respectively. Through the Allied acquisition it added brands including Ballantine's, Scapa, Glendronach and Tormore, along with Beefeater gin, Malibu rum and Stolichnaya vodka. It has also taken on about 400 at Allied's plant in Dumbarton, where it has two modern high-speed bottling halls. Paris-based Pernod has already announced that it is planning to shut its Kilwinning bottling plant and Linwood distribution hub this year, affecting 93 employees. Now unions and employees are bracing themselves for even worse news. So far, Pernod is believed to have laid off three directors at the Allied Distillers' plant in Dumbarton, reassigned another, and fired a master blender. Another source close to the situation confirmed yesterday that the division's six-strong communications team had also been laid off in the past two weeks. A spokeswoman for Pernod confirmed task forces had been set up to look at its Scottish operations when the deal was announced on 26 July, but said she was unable to comment further. "As far as bottling is concerned, we have no intention of closing any of the three bottling sites in Scotland," she said. "But I simply can't comment on speculation or anything we haven't already announced." Dingwall eyes up 'unloved' distilleries PERNOD'S ongoing strategic review could play into the hands of Venture Production founder Bruce Dingwall, who is in the process of reinventing himself as a "whisky scavenger" - despite learning his trade in the North Sea oil and gas industry. Only last week, Dingwall told The Scotsman there were strong similarities between the consolidation in the North Sea ten years ago and the consolidation in the drinks industry today. As a result he is aiming to pick up "unloved assets from large companies" - and could get his opportunity sooner than expected. Since acquiring Chivas from Seagram in 2000, Pernod has mothballed several distilleries, including Allt a'Bhannie, Braeval, Caperdonich and Glen Keith. In addition, Allied's mothballed Imperial distillery, at Carron in Moray has been added to that list since then. All could be available at the right price.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Nov 16

Rare whisky goes on sale for 14,000 pounds a bottle
At 500 pounds a sip it is one of the world's most expensive tipples this Christmas. For connoisseurs with the pocket, British drinks giant Diageo is selling a Johnnie Walker whisky blend at 14,000 pounds a bottle to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Scotsman who created the world's best-selling whisky brand. The group which distills one-third of the world's scotch has selected Scotland's best whiskies, all over 30 years old and some as old as 70 years old, to create its 1805 anniversary pack -- containing just one bottle -- to be sold to the world's most discerning drinkers. The world's largest alcoholic drinks company, which also makes Smirnoff vodka and Guinness beer, is selling just 200 bottles of the high-priced spirit to spice up interest in whisky in the run up to the Chistmas. One of the 200 bottles was sold at a recent auction in Shanghai for 14,000 pounds, and another was broken open by Diageo's Master of Blending Jim Beveridge, who created the blend, at a briefing on Scottish whisky in London on Wednesday. Beveridge said he used whiskies predominantly from Scottish distilleries that no longer exist to create a special scotch at "500 pounds a sip", while it had been a blender's dream to use the world's most precious whisky stocks. Rare vintage wines are also known to fetch high prices. A 109-year-old bottle of exceptionally rare Italian vintage red wine, described by experts as a "work of art", was sold at auction for 9,300 pounds in 2000.
Articles Courtesy of Reuters

Nov 16

Whisky, miss? Go-go for it
Whisky has some surprising new fans. So whisky is an old man’s drink, right? Wrong. Younger men, and women, are getting to know their malts from their blends and their Speyside from their Islay. Dominic Roskrow, editor of Whisky Magazine, has noticed that audiences at Whisky Live, a whisky festival held around the world, are no longer only older male professionals. In recent years he has seen more and more younger people attending, including couples and groups of women. Whisky is starting to have such a wide appeal that Scottish restaurant Albannach, on London’s Trafalgar Square, has just set up its own whisky club where members can attend tastings and meet distillers. “Lots of people’s first experience with whisky is also their last, and takes place aged 16 or 17 when they don’t really know what they’re drinking,” says Roskrow. “But with a bit of experimentation most people will find one that suits them.” Whiskies are also a great dinner party drink. Lagavulin, a malt whisky from Islay, goes particularly well with roquefort, the peaty taste of the whisky working off the saltiness of the cheese. Peaty whiskies also complement seafood such as langoustine. Indian food suits whisky too, the fiery and fierce nature of both making them natural partners. And for dessert, ice-cream with hot chocolate sauce can showcase whisky at its best. Take a chilled lighter whisky and sip it as you eat. Traditional Scottish dishes, such as haggis, neeps and tatties, are too bland to eat with whisky, although a Talisker from the Isle of Skye, with its dry and peppery finish, is a good choice. This was James Bond’s choice of tipple in the original Ian Fleming books.
Articles Courtesy of The Times

Nov 16

Hurricanes batter Diageo profits
DIAGEO, the world's biggest spirits company, yesterday said its first-half sales and profit growth expectations may be blown off course by the US hurricanes. The devastation caused by Katrina, Rita and Wilma in New Orleans and the south-eastern US states hit Diageo's business in the late summer, especially sales of Crown Royal Canadian whisky, its most profitable brand in the US. Diageo's shares yesterday dropped 3 per cent to 836p. But the group, whose brands include Johnnie Walker and Bell's whiskies, Gordon's gin and Smirnoff vodka, said that although first-half growth may be below expectations, it was reiterating its full-year guidance. Nick Rose, Diageo's finance director, said at a seminar in London that the first half might be hindered by the impact of the hurricanes, the phasing of advertising and promotional spending and the decline in Guinness and ready-to-drink products like Smirnoff Ice in key markets. Rose said it was too early to say whether the hurricanes would hit its full-year performance, or be limited to the first half, with the group benefiting from restocking in the second half. The key will be to see if buying patterns pick up in the run-up to the US holiday season with Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks looming, he added. One drinks analyst said: "The concern is that full-year guidance will come under pressure over the course of the [financial] year should trading conditions not improve." At its shareholder AGM in October, the group said it expected underlying sales to rise 4 per cent and operating profits to increase 7 per cent in its financial year to June 2006. It made the forecasts despite higher growth in marketing spend and higher pension costs, and they were in line with the rises in sales and profits achieved in the year to June 2005. Diageo added that it is seeing pressure on input costs from higher oil prices and although it hopes to mitigate the impact largely through better procurement, these firmer oil prices will increase the group's cost base by around £20 million in the current year. Diageo said it saw market share gains in the US - it currently has over 26 per cent of the market - even with the price increases that the group has put through, but in Europe it saw continued weakness in Smirnoff Ice and Guinness. The group added that Latin America remained buoyant and that it had made steady progress in Taiwan, Korea and Nigeria. Analysts said the hurricane effect would not alter Diageo's attitude to America. "It gets more than a third of its sales in the US. Case closed," said one analyst.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Nov 15

Telegraph produces barn door promotion for Scotch whisky brand
The Telegraph Magazine has teamed up with Diageo’s Talisker Whisky for a split front cover this weekend, in a bid to attract the drink’s core customer base of ABC1 Adults. Bosses at the Telegraph are expecting the Talisker 'barn door' style cover to be the first of many such initiatives across all of their titles following its appearance on Saturday 19 November. Simon Hills, director of Telegraph Magazines, said: "We are constantly trying to push the creative boundaries and exceed clients expectations. "This is a classic example of the new thinking at the Telegraph and we are delighted with the outcome." Marianne Hawkins, senior brand manager for malts at the Diageo Group, said: "The innovative barn door format is a fantastic way for us to showcase Talisker in a truly inspiring and unique way. "Talisker single malt Scotch whisky is the only Scotch from the Isle of Skye and this means of advertising allows us to bring to life its rugged provenance as well as generate consumer excitement about the Talisker brand activity." This is the latest in a series of innovations since Hills, a former IPC veteran, joined the title in September. Earlier this month the Sunday Telegraph launched two new titles, the female-focused Stella, and culture magazine, Seven.
Articles Courtesy of Media Week

Nov 13

Home of whisky hosts global summit
SCOTLAND is to play host to the world's first-ever global whisky summit next year which aims to tackle a number of key issues such as counterfeiting and growth in emerging markets. The two-day World Whiskies Conference will bring together key players in the industry from Suntory in Japan to Bourbon distillers in the States. It is the brainchild of former Glenmorangie marketing director Ian Buxton. He said: "There are other conferences that focus on the spirits industry but we wanted to create something that is specifically for the global whisky industry. It is the first time that anyone has put on an in depth-focused conference like this that spans the whole sector. It is a global industry with a huge presence in America, Canada, Ireland and Japan." Emerging, spirit-drinking markets such as China, Russia and Eastern Europe have injected much needed sales into the industry. Last month, figures released by the Scotch Whisky Association show for the first six months of this year that a boom in exports to China helped half-year figures for worldwide sales of Scotch whisky shatter the £1bn barrier, the first time it has happened since 1997. But despite the sales fillip, there is growing frustration that potential massive markets such as India are still stymied by prohibitive tax measures. The industry is also feeling the pressure from growing public and governmental concerns over responsible drinking. Damian Riley Smith, chief executive of Paragraph Publishing, which is co-organising the event, said: "After seven years publishing Whisky Magazine, and five years holding consumer whisky shows in Japan, America, France, the UK and South Africa, we have seen the great marketing and sales lessons that can be learnt across the world and between whisky types and regions. "We are very excited about extending this to a conference for the global whisky industry, and starting it in whisky's heartland is the most natural part of the mix. As a sales and marketing summit for senior decision makers in the global whisky business the World Whiskies Conference will bring some of the leading business and marketing minds together to meet and inform the industry. "Top advertising executives, tourism experts, packaging designers, marketing gurus, luxury goods businesses, researchers and economists will give the whisky industry unique information on world sales and marketing techniques relevant to the whisky business." Leonard Russell, managing director of Glengoyne distillery and a member of the advisory panel said: "The main subject that is dominating the industry right now is China. In terms of sales and marketing that is where it is at. The market is still quite small but it looks like it could be quite big, and the industry will be focusing on that to see how big it could be. That is the medium to long-term hope for the industry." World Whiskies Conference runs from 20-21 April 2006 at Edinburgh Conference Centre.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Nov 12

Drink Group's Boss Calls Time
The charismatic and genial Dubliner who has led drinks giant Pernod Ricard through massive expansion announced his retirement last night. Richard Burrows, said he would leave the board of the Paris-based group, which owns whisky distiller Chivas Brothers, early next year. He has overseen two huge takeovers that has seen Pernod Ricard swallow up large parts of Seagram and Allied Domecq to become the world's second largest drinks group. He will remain on the Pernod board. Pierre Pringuet will step up from the joint managing director post he held to become director general.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Nov 11

Scotch lovers line up for rare whisky
Calgary liquor merchants are rolling out a $100,000 barrel of scotch fit for royalty, making the city whisky central. A 1974-vintage cask-worth of now-bottled Glenfiddich scotch whisky has arrived at the city's Willow Park Wines and Spirits, with the massive copper still that produced it following on its heels, said store purchaser David Michiels. "You're getting a single vintage from a single barrel, so it's almost impossibly rare" said an obviously excited Michiels, who's laid claim to one of 220 bottles that will come from the cask. The high-end hooch is retailing for $599 plus GST per bottle. A waiting list for the whisky has already formed, spanning the country, Michiels added.
Articles Courtesy of The Daily Record

Nov 11

Distillery makes Trees Offer
Whisky lovers are being offered the chance to own a little piece of the heritage of one of Speyside's most famous malts. The Macallan is planting 1,000 oak saplings at its Craigellachie estate as part of a woodland regeneration programme. Fans of the malt can buy one of the saplings, which will be established in the grounds of Easter Elchies House alongside a plaque bearing their name. Proceeds from the initiative will be invested into ongoing woodland regeneration. It is envisaged 4,000 trees will be planted at the Speyside estate by spring 2006, including a variety of indigenous trees. Those who buy an oak sapling will be given a limited edition, hand-labelled bottle of The Macallan Woodland Estate. The first tree was planted yesterday at the Craigellachie distillery by estate manager Stuart MacKenzie and distillery manager Alexander Tweedie. Mr MacKenzie said: "The Macallan is extremely fortunate in having its own estate and we are committed to renewing the woodlands for future generations to enjoy its legacy. "The initiative will allow people from all walks of life to put something back into the land that produces their favourite dram." He said strong demand is expected from a wide range of people, including collectors, lovers of The Macallan and people who are keen to support the local environment. Those who buy a tree will be given a certificate outlining where it is located, and will be able to visit it once planting is complete. For more information, visit
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Nov 10

Pernod's spirit lifted by 55 per cent sales increase
PERNOD Ricard, the world's number two spirits firm, was today cheering a 55 per cent leap in sales as it incorporated its recently-acquired Allied Domecq labels for the first time. The French drinks giant, which owns a host of leading brands including Chivas Regal scotch, Martell cognac and Jacobs Creek wines, also said it was confident of a strong showing for the full year, given growth in its historical key brands plus the strength of its new arrivals. Today's first-quarter figures showed that Allied brands, which include Beefeater gin and Ballantine's whisky, made up around one-third of total sales. Pernod chairman Patrick Ricard said: "I am very pleased with the continued strong growth of our pre-acquisition key brands. "The confirmation of this dynamism and the excellent execution of the integration of the Allied Domecq workforce and brands enable me to have confidence in our performance from the full 2005/2006 fiscal year." The newly-enlarged group said that total sales over the July to September period came to around £901 million, with the Allied brands - included for just two months - generating some £310m. Pernod was reporting the first quarter of its new financial year, which now ends on June 30. Analysts had expected sales of roughly £840m, but stressed that forecasts were tricky due to the extent of structural change at the group. On an underlying basis, stripping out acquisitions, divestments and currency swings, turnover rose a more modest 2.3 per cent, with a seven per cent hike at Pernod's historic brands. Among its Allied labels, Pernod said it had noted a sharp downturn in August due partly to the start of destocking on certain markets. But that this was reversed for Ballantine's and Beefeater, while Stolichnaya vodka and Malibu coconut rum continued to show "vigorous" growth. Net sales in the group's Americas region doubled as the acquisition generated benefits across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Organic growth in the region progressed by 3.7 per cent. In the US, quarterly sales grew organically by 3.4 per cent on the back of steady performances of the Jameson, Wild Turkey and The Glenlivet brands. In its home country, Pernod reported net sales growth of 17.8 per cent, which was partially offset by negative organic growth of minus 3.8 per cent. It said the mixed picture in France had persisted with difficulties for aniseeds contrasting with "very good performances" for whiskies, with Clan Campbell up seven per cent, Jameson up 22 per cent and Chivas Regal 23 per cent higher. France now accounts for ten per cent of group sales. Today's results did not include any profit figures. In September, the firm said first-half operating profit had risen 2.1 per cent to around £194m.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Nov 7

Whisky Galore for the Boyos
A MILLION pounds worth of whisky was washed off a cargo ship in a storm, it was revealed yesterday Now local fishermen and beachcombers are hoping for a Whisky Galore-style bonanza. Thousands of bottles fell out of a container when it slipped off a cargo ship running from Greenock to Bilbao in Spain. The German-owned Endeavor was off the south-west coast of Wales in high seas Three of the crates of whisky sank straight to the bottom - but the fourth broke open. Milford Haven Coastguard watch manager Bill Muldrew said: "Local fishermen and beachcombers will beon the lookout - it could be a real bonanza. "Thousands of bottles could be floating in on the tide." The Endeavor hit a Force 8 gale in the Irish Sea about 36miles off the Pembrokeshire coast. The ship was in exceptionally high seas when the cargo went. Muldrew added: "It fell into the sea taking three 40-foot crates full of whisky with it. "The intact crates will have sunk - but the one that split spilled thousands of bottles into the sea. "We are waiting for them to be washed up on our beaches." Fisherman Pete Clarke, 38, of Milford Haven, said: "A lot ofus will be keeping our eye out for a nice bottle of single malt." The spillage could spark scenes like the 1949 classic film Whisky Galore - based on a true story of how islanders on Eriskay stumbled on 54,000 cases of whisky after the SS Politician ran aground in 1941. The whisky was destined for bars, cafes and hotels across Spain ready for Christmas.
Articles Courtesy of The Daily Record

Nov 5

Dingwall set to hit the whisky trail
VENTURE Production founder Bruce Dingwall is aiming to emulate his success in the North Sea by turning his "scavenging skills" to the whisky industry, after taking up a senior role at Tullibardine, the Perthshire-based distiller. Dingwall, 45, left Aberdeen-based Venture in September last year after taking it from start-up to a £615 million publicly listed company. The success was largely down to his ability to recognise under-utilised oil fields, taking them off the majors, and then exploiting them. Yesterday he told The Scotsman he plans to replicate that model in the whisky industry. "It's about buying unloved assets from large companies who don't want them or can't maximise their potential," he said. "There has been mass consolidation in the North Sea, and there's an absolute parallel in the drinks industry, which is embarking on the same type of consolidation. It's about getting the right assets into the hands of the right people." According to Dingwall, who has joined Tullibardine as a stake-holding non-executive director, there were 38 oil majors operating in the North Sea in the mid-1970s, before dropping to just 22 in 1999 - at the time when Venture got involved. The figure has now grown by about a dozen, as more companies have recognised the opportunity. The situation in the drinks industry is similar, Dingwall says, with the number of operating distilleries in Scotland dropping from 113 in the early 1980s to about 87 today - meaning that more than 25 have been mothballed as part of ongoing industry consolidation - and he's hungry to buy some of them. "We've picked up a great asset from Whyte & Mackay in Tullibardine, which is a wonderful distillery with a massive capacity, and there are certainly others out there that would complement what we have already," he said. "There is huge potential for these type of premium niche products." Dingwall, who is also chairman of Edinburgh University spin-out MTEM, added that the distiller would "absolutely look at the public markets as a source of funding". Director Doug Ross, who led 2003's buyout from Whyte & Mackay along with Mike Beamish, said the distiller was already eyeing a number of potential further acquisitions. While he declined to put a time-scale on the plans, he said the company had a clear idea of what it was looking for. "We already have a range of international distributors for Tullibardine, specialising in these type of niche brands. This means we have a strong route to market - so it makes complete sense for us to slip in a few more specialist brands at the same time," Ross said. "The state of the industry at the moment means the big companies focus on selling large volumes of a few core brands. That inevitably means some brands are excess to requirements for them. But in these kind of situations the crumbs that fall off the giants' table are other people's toast." Tullibardine, which was mothballed by Whyte & Mackay in 1994, was put back into production by Ross and Beamish in 2004. The six-acre site at the village of Blackford, near Gleneagles, has required investment of £10m. The group's plans come at a good time for the industry, with recent figures from the Scotch Whisky Association showing the profile of Scotch firmly on the rise, both in terms of value and volume. For the first six-months of the year, export sales of Scotch worldwide broke the £1 billion barrier for the first time since 1997, with bottled-in-Scotland malt sales growing 11 per cent, and blended by 2 per cent.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Nov 4

Johnnie Walker releases celebratory whisky blend
Canadian whiskey company Johnnie Walker is celebrating the 200th birthday of its founder with the release of an exclusive whisky blend, valued at $27,000 per bottle. Only 200 bottles of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label 1805 Anniversary Pack have been produced as a tribute to the founder, John Walker. The blend is made from whiskies at least 45 years old and come predominantly from distilleries that no longer exist. Master blender Jim Beveridge, who created the blend, said: "The opportunity to convey the life of John Walker through a celebration blend of the world's most precious whisky stocks is any blender's dream." The whisky comes housed in a handmade Victorian-style writing case with an antique nib pen reminiscent of the era when John Walker was blending his whiskies. The pack also comes with a replica of Alexander Walker's (John Walker's grandson) original handwritten recipe book.
Articles Courtesy of Drinks Business Review

Nov 4

It's a Dram Good Show by Chivas
The owner of Strathisla Distillery at Keith is celebrating after scooping the distiller of the year title in a top competition for wine and spirits companies. But the accolade, one of the honours given out in the international Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) 2005, was not the only prize for Strathisla operator Chivas Brothers. Chivas, part of French group Pernod Ricard, also came away with a trophy and four gold medals. It is the second time the Speyside firm has been named IWSC distiller of the year, after similar success in 2003. The award was achieved on the back of IWSC successes for Chivas's flagship single malt Glenlivet Archive 21-year-old, which won the Morrison Bowmore Distillers Trophy for a single malt over 12 years old. The Chivas Regal 18-year-old was awarded a gold medal in the category for 18-year-old deluxe whisky blends. Christian Porta, chairman at Chivas, said: "The painstaking investment of time and expertise is key to nurturing a consistently great dram."
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Nov 4

Pernod Ricard Thailand will fire up a Bt250-million “experiential marketing” campaign
Pernod Ricard Thailand will fire up a Bt250-million “experiential marketing” campaign next year to drive its flagship Chivas Regal brand deeper into the premium scotch-whisky market. “We are the only scotch-whisky brand that is growing despite these times of economic difficulty and alcohol measures, including taxation,” Cyril Legrand, the company’s director of marketing and development, said yesterday. “Chivas Regal’s share in the premium scotch-whisky segment is set to grow from less than 20 per cent two years ago to about 30 per cent expected for this year. The brand is also expected to gain up to 37 per cent of the market next year,” he said. About 100,000 cases of Chivas Regal are expected to be sold next year. Sales this year are on track to increase 15 per cent to 80,000 cases. The overall whisky market this year is expected to remain at about 6 million cases. “Total sales of premium scotch whisky are also expected to be flat this year, or about 280,000 cases,” said Legrand. The key success strategy for Chivas Regal is being innovative, different and trend-setting. About 90 per cent of next year’s marketing budget will be allocated to below-the-line, or non-media, campaigns. “Our goal is to enlarge our customer base by recruiting a new generation of drinkers, aged between 25 and 35. Our target customers are those who have an appetite for life and who love a perfect, shared moment,” he said. As part of the overall Bt250-million marketing budget for Chivas Regal, the company yesterday introduced a Bt100-million, year-round campaign set to awaken Bangkok with a series of urban cultural experiences from leading cities like Paris, Tokyo, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York and Berlin. Under the experiential marketing campaign dubbed “Chivas Life … in the City”, the company will focus on bringing to the capital a full array of sensory experiences – involving touch, vision, smell, taste and sound – from these culturally rich cities. Paris’ “Passion & Glamour”, which will run to the end of this year, is the first urban theme of the campaign. “‘Chivas Life … in the City’ will bring to its trendy audience in Bangkok the hippest cultural experience inspired by leading urban destinations abroad. Associating electronic music with other forms of art – such as design, fashion, modern art, dance, dining – the new campaign is designed to be a true experience for all the senses and a giant celebration of urban culture,” said Legrand.
Articles Courtesy of Nation

Nov 3

Grant's Investment Paying Off
Ambitious Dufftown distiller William Grant and Sons yesterday insisted its diversification strategy and focus on premium brands was paying off as it unveiled a rise in pre-tax profits to more than £71million. The owner of Glenfiddich, the world's leading single malt whisky, has invested heavily recently in broadening its portfolio of products, including new premium whiskies and other spirits. Yesterday chairman Charles Gordon indicated the plan was for more of the same as he unveiled the firm's latest annual results. The family-owned company saw its pre-tax profits grow to £71.5million on a turnover of £339million in the year to December 31, 2004, according to accounts released by Companies House yesterday. However, its pension deficit continued to widen during the year, from £34.4million to £38.2million. Mr Gordon said 2004 had been a good year for the company thanks to the continued success of its growing portfolio of premium brands. He added: "We shall focus on the growth and value of our core Scotch whisky brands and continue to develop and invest behind innovative new premium brands that complement our portfolio." Grant's, which underwent a management reshuffle in 2003 which saw former managing director Patrick Thomas depart with a payoff worth nearly £3million, has stepped up its diversification strategy this year under current chief executive Roland van Bommel. Most recently, it bought premium French brandy company Raynal and Cie, while, in September, it revealed it had spent £1million building Iceland's first distillery to produce a new premium vodka called Reyka. The firm, which employs almost 1,000 staff, has also acquired Gibson's Canadian whiskey and OVD rum in addition to developing other premium lines such as Hendrick's gin and Monkey Shoulder, a malt whisky designed to appeal to more affluent, younger drinkers. Mr Gordon also yesterday stressed that the firm, which has a 30% stake in Highland Distillers, owner of The Macallan brand, remained committed to its future as an independent family company. The boardroom changes in 2003 have led to the Grant family - the direct descendants of William Grant who founded the business in 1886 - taking a more hands-on role at the company. The latest accounts show that the firm's directors approved a total dividend of £3.5million during 2004, in line with that paid the previous year. The highest-paid director received a salary worth £872,000. David Stewart, master blender at Grant's, has received the prestigious 2005 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) Outstanding Achievement in the Scotch Whisky Industry Award. The accolade was presented at the annual banquet of the IWSC, held in the Guildhall, London. Mr Stewart, 60, has worked with the firm for 43 years.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Nov 3

Norfolk's own whisky plan
It is a drink forever associated with scenic glens, peat fires, kilts and tartans. But now a Norfolk father and son are planning to produce their own whisky, 300 miles from Scotland. The pair have drawn up plans for a £1m-plus distillery at Roudham, in the Breckland countryside, complete with bottling plant, visitor centre and shop. And although the liquor does not yet have its own name, James Nelstrop and his son Andrew have already named their venture the Norfolk Whisky Company. They had hoped to become England's first licensed whisky distillery but have been pipped at the post by a Cornish version which is still in the early stages. But they will remain the only whisky-makers outside the Celtic fringes. Mr Nelstrop Jnr said it would be a labour of love. “Anybody can make vodka or gin. You open a distillery and three hours later you have got vodka in a bottle. “Whisky is more of an art form. It is not something you can do in five minutes.” And for the family, who have a background in agriculture, it makes perfect sense. Mr Nelstrop said: “There are two main ingredients in whisky - malt barley and water. Norfolk is one of the biggest barley-growing regions in the country, and we are sitting on top of the Breckland aquifer.” Dominic Roskrow, Norwich-based editor of Whisky Magazine, said that although East Anglia had no history of whisky, it made perfect sense. He said: “I regularly joke that we should set up a distillery in Norfolk because we have the best barley in the country. That is reflected in the quality of the beer in this area. Norfolk barley is used to make some Scotch. I think it is great news for whisky in general.” Mr Nelstrop said: “It is a brand new but effectively a very traditional distillery. The distilling equipment is all being built by a company in Scotland that does all the proper stills and so on. We will be employing a distiller from Scotland who has a good reputation.” The malted grain will have yeast and water added before being distilled twice, in the traditional Scottish fashion. It will be aged in bourbon barrels, with some batches further aged in port or sherry barrels. As for its name, that is being considered carefully. Mr Nelstrop said: “Whisky is usually called 'Glen-something', but we don't have too many glens in Norfolk! So we are trying to come up with a name for it. “Most people who drink whisky are generally aged 40 and above - it would be nice to reach out and sell it to the same age group that drinks vodka and gin, which depends on labelling and branding.” He said it was hoped that 150-160 people a day could be attracted to whisky tours, with even larger numbers visiting the shop. Mr Roskrow said tours would be a popular attraction. He said: “Norfolk doesn't have a lot to do if it rains. There is the novelty factor, too.” If planning permission is granted by Breckland Council for the site on a field next to Swallow Aquatics, the distillery could be operational next autumn. But people getting excited about a Norfolk dram will have to be patient. Mr Nelstrop said: “We are not legally able to call it whisky until it has been in the barrel for three years, so there won't be much whisky from the English whisky company.” The best whisky will be 10 to 15 years old - so although the Norfolk version may yet knock the spots off Scotch, we will have to wait a while yet.
Articles Courtesy of EDP News

Nov 2

MSP urges whisky promotion
A Tory MSP has called for a fresh drive to promote whisky at events in the Scottish Parliament. Brian Monteith has tabled a motion calling on Holyrood chiefs to encourage reception organisers to offer Scotch to their guests at events at the Parliament. Mr Monteith, who has already urged the Parliament to commission a branded gin in recognition of its importance to Scotland's economy, said most events offered only wine, beer or soft drinks. He said: "Holyrood plays host to a large number of receptions, many of which involve guests from all over or, in some cases, outside Scotland. "It would therefore seem only right that, when people have been invited to a reception at the Scottish Parliament, they should at least be offered Scotland's iconic national drink. "Whisky sales in the first six months of this year were over £1 billion - for the first time since 1997 - and the industry makes a massive contribution to Scotland's economy. "Many local communities, especially those in Moray and the Highlands and Islands in general, rely on distilling and it's time for the Parliament to play its part in promoting whisky. "The Scottish Parliament can set an example by encouraging Parliamentary reception and event organisers to at least offer Scotland's national drink to their guests." A Parliament spokesman said the choice of drinks was a matter for event organisers who chose to host events at Holyrood. However, he said whisky could be made available to organisers if requested.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Oct 28

Indulge in world of whisky at fest
Experience the wonderful Premier Collection Don't judge a whisky by its colour. Nose it. Inhale. Swish it against the back of your tongue and let it slide down your throat. Colour is not an indicator of quality. "Many whiskies are coloured to produce that dark golden colour that people love. We don't subscribe to that. Definitely not. Our whiskies are totally natural," enthuse Euan Shand (Duncan Taylor & Co), Stephen Camisa (Buffalo Trace Distillery) and Robbie Millar (Compass Box Crafted Whiskies). Their whiskies are being showcased at the Premier Collection stand at the FNB Whisky Live Festival. The event, which is presented in association with the Cape Times, has its final gig tonight (from 6pm to 10.30pm) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The Premier Collection, under the auspices of De Toren Spirits, will also feature whisky lifestyle accessories such as cigars, lighters and other stylish doodads. De Toren, based in Stellenbosch, imports and distributes "international premium brands" such as Buffalo Trace and Compass Box and is launching Duncan Taylor at the festival. The whiskies at the stand range from R145 per bottle for Buffalo Trace to R350 to R550 for Compass Box and R800 to R900 for Duncan Taylor, with their Strath Isla clocking in at R1 600 a bottle. Duncan Taylor consists of at least 35-year-old whiskies, with the oldest being 42, which puts the price tag into perspective when one considers that evaporation (about 2.5% a year) accounts for substantial loss of the product: "After 35 years there ain't a lot left in that cask," notes Shand. That's major shrinkage. "All the products Emil (den Dulk, of De Toren Spirits) deals with are small batch and with attention to detail, reflects Millar. Each has its own identity and character. "Our products are handmade limited edition," adds Camisa. "There's an art element to whisky making. Artistry." Camisa would know. This whisky merchant has a fascinating background in art and law. Born in New York, he was inducted into the beverage industry from an early age as his father was employed in the beverage alcohol industry. However, after graduation, Camisa worked as an artist for 13 years, producing art-glass (he still does this in his spare time). He obtained a masters in law and ventured into the world of beverages. He is currently vice president international of Buffalo Trace. And what of the whiskies? Wonderful. I had a little tipple. First up I tried Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Camisa: "Little bit of creme bržlée. Very smooth and elegant with vanilla and new oak." Next was Compass Box Peat Monster. Millar: "Very smoky. BBQ. Bacon fat. Bonfire." Den Dulk of De Toren described the 35-year-old Duncan Taylor as "very chewy and juicy ... like eating toffees". I agree. Their descriptions are right on the nose, folks, so go along and taste. "If you come to our stand, you will experience three unique things," promises Millar. "Handcrafted bourbons, handcrafted micro blended scotches, very old single malts. We are offering three whisky experiences and the coolest bunch of people." Tickets are available online at, R100 from Computicket or at the door. Whisky workshops cost R65, or pay R155 which includes entry and a workshop.
Articles Courtesy of Cape Times

Oct 27

Chinese growth boosts whisky exports
BOOMING exports to China helped half-year figures for worldwide sales of Scotch whisky shatter the £1 billion barrier for the first time since 2007, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said yesterday. Figures released by the industry group showed the overall value of exports rising 3 per cent on the same period of last year to £1.011bn, with global volumes growing by 2 per cent to 429 million bottles, an increase of nine million bottles. The increases reflect the bumper performance of whisky in mature markets such as the United States (up 7 per cent to £152 million), as well as the continued progress of emerging markets, led by China, where exports grew 124 per cent to a value of £22m. By contrast, Europe's continuing economic problems cast a shadow over whisky exports to the continent, with sizeable decreases in key markets such as Greece, where exports lost 25 per cent of their value (£11m), and in the low-value but high-volume French market, where volume sales fell by 8.7 million bottles or 12 per cent. "The growth trend in emerging markets like China, where Scotch and green tea is a popular drink, bodes well for the future health of the industry" said David Williamson, the SWA's public affairs spokesman. "Five years ago, Scotch exports to China were valued at less than £1m, this year they are £25m." "As the Chinese economy grows, the aspiring middle class becomes more attuned to quality European products, and whisky is exactly the kind of quality product they aspire to. "Since China joined the WTO, it has reduced its tariff on whisky from 65 per cent to 10 per cent, and there has been a gradual process of liberalisation of distribution within the market." Other more established east Asian markets such as South Korea and Taiwan, respectively fourth and fifth in the top ten export markets, have also performed better, shaking off the effects of localised economic ills. Exports to the volatile Korean market rose by 26 per cent to £72.5m, and in Taiwan they rose 25 per cent to £42.8m. Gavin Hewitt, the SWA chief executive, added: "The rise in exports demonstrates their continuing success and the worldwide popularity of Scotch. "I am looking forward to visiting Beijing next month to discuss market conditions with Chinese officials and to learn first-hand about how this exciting market is developing. "Conditions in Europe have been challenging but it remains a vitally important market representing as it does nearly 40 per cent of Scotch whisky shipments. "It is encouraging that last year's enlargement of the market is beginning to bring benefits, with Scotch now able to compete on a level playing field with local spirits in the new member states for the first time." Whisky's growth offers consolation on the state of the Scottish export industry in the wake of discouraging statistics from the Scottish Council of Development and Industry earlier this week, which showed the total value of goods leaving the country dropping below £15bn last year, for the first time in a decade.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Oct 27

Scotch Whisky's Eastern Promise
Taking a tot of whisky in a mug of tea has often been known for its restorative powers, but in China a slightly different version of it has become something of a craze, to the delight of Scotch producers. The current fashion for drinking whisky and green tea in long glasses among China's middle classes has sent Scotch exports soaring to the Far East, with total half-year figures topping £1billion for the first time in eight years. This is great news for producers in Scotland and, in particular, Chivas Brothers, in Keith, whose Chivas Regal appears to have become the favourite premium blend with the Chinese. The opening up of China as a huge market for the west, along with a more favourable tax regime, has helped Scotch whisky take off in a big way. It was not that long ago that Chancellor Gordon Brown referred to the Far East as being one of the west's biggest trading challenges of the future, both in terms of competition and lucrative new markets. Scotch whisky is blazing a trail which other quality Scottish products can follow. Scotch and green tea might not please the purists, but the Chinese are perfectly free to do what they want with it as long as they keep buying it from Scotland.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Oct 27

Whisky and Guiness
Publican Forbes Robertson is entering the Guinness Book of Records for having the world's biggest whisky collection. He has an astonishing 800 bottles behind the bar. It's enough to win a certified entry in the 2007 edition of the famous book - but he wants to increase the collection at the soon-to-open Millionayr club on River Street in Ayr. Forbes said: "There are around 4500 whiskies and we still have room to display quite a few more. I plan to keep the record in my home town".
Articles Courtesy of The Dailyrecord

Oct 27

Helaine fronts The Macallan's Russian sales drive
EDRINGTON Group's Speyside single malt, The Macallan, has appointed Moscow-based Alexandre Helaine as its first brand ambassador and on-trade manager in Russia. Working with the brand's distributor, Maxxium Russia, he will deal with The Macallan's key on-trade accounts, such as the five-star Marriott Aurora Hotel, Moscow, and Karo Casinos. The Scotch whisky market in Russia is growing at around 30 per cent per year. Stewart MacRae, the group's Nordic and eastern Europe director, said: "Alexandre's experience in the drinks trade is crucial in a high-growth market. Edrington brands and Maxxium aim to develop their presence in Russia."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Oct 24

Whisky maker 'is top polluter'
THE world's biggest whisky company has been named as the worst polluter in Scotland. Environmental Data Services said that Diageo, which makes Bell's and Johnnie Walker, produces the most toxic carbon pollution in the country.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman

Oct 20

SWA Signs Peace Treaty With Taxman
Whisky industry leaders last night concluded a peace treaty with tax officials. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) chairman David Varney signed a memoranda of understanding with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and the Gin and Vodka Association agreeing to step up co-operation. It follows Chancellor Gordon Brown's action to water down plans for a duty-paid tax strip to be stuck across bottle tops as a sign that duty had been paid. Under two key concessions, the stamps are being included in existing labels stuck on bottles instead, preventing the industry having to introduce expensive new machinery, and the stamps will not have to be paid for in advance, avoiding a huge cash-flow problem for smaller distillers. The concessions followed a row over the extent of tax losses put originally at up to £600million by Customs and the £7million cost to the industry of introducing the new tax measures, with continuing costs of £5million a year. Last night the SWA denied the signing had anything to do with earlier concessions, pointing out talks on co-operation started long before the tax stamps proposal. SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt said yesterday: "Excellent co-operation between SWA members and HMRC is long-established and we are delighted to formalise our joint work to tackle spirits fraud through today's agreement. "Targeted action on the areas of highest risk, with industry and Government working in partnership, is already having an impact. All the figures show that spirit fraud is on a downward trend." In essence the industry has agreed to shop rogue traders defrauding the Treasury of hundreds of millions of pounds by taking duty-free whisky from bonded warehouses for export and then diverting it to the home market pretending tax has been paid. Companies will fast-track Customs inquiries on suspect supply routes, share intelligence on irregular trends in trade, notify suspicious orders and impose sanctions against those involved in fraud. Treasury Financial Secretary John Healey said the industry was "uniquely placed" to provide information. He added: "The Scotch Whisky Association and the Gin and Vodka Association have worked in close co-operation with HMRC for some time now and I believe that their continuing support will prove to be a valuable tool in combating fraud and the criminals who profit from it." Moray SNP MP Angus Robertson, vice-chairman of the all-party Scotch whisky and spirits group, said: "I commend the responsible attitude of the whisky industry which has long supported a targeted approach to countering fraud." He renewed earlier attacks on the Government, however, for planning to heap additional overheads, regulations and costs on "one of Scotland's key industries" with the introduction of expensive tax stamps.
Articles Courtesy of the Press and Journal

Oct 18

Walkers whisky mince pies target UK Xmas markets
Leading Scottish shortbread manufacturer Walkers Shortbread last week introduced its new whisky mince pies at the Anuga trade show in Cologne. The company plans to launch the product in the UK for the Christmas season. Glenfiddich Mincemeat Tarts, which are due to hit the market next month, were created through a collaboration with William Grant & Sons, the makers of leading global malt whisky Glenfiddich. “The whisky distilleries in Scotland are ten minutes away from the Walkers factory. It was a natural development for us to use another locally produced product,” said James Walker, the company's managing director and grandson of its original founder. Walkers Shortbread already manufactures a range of fruitcakes and plum puddings using Glenfiddich whisky, the latter of which was launched in June this year. “These are very gourmet products that tend to be sold in speciality stores as they are too expensive for the average supermarket. But they are selling very well and also have a good luxury gift appeal,” Walker told The new whisky mince pies will be priced at £2.50 for a box of six. The market for shortbread in the UK, valued at around £70m, is still relatively niche, making up about 5 per cent of the nation's total biscuit market. It has seen a “slow but steady” annual growth of 2-3 per cent in recent years, according to Walkers. The company, which said it has seen a sales increase of 5-6 per cent over the last few years, claims to hold around 50 per cent of the UK market for shortbread and 70 per cent of the total UK export market. The traditional Scottish product, which has become identified in the UK with the Walkers company, also performs well in other English speaking markets, such as the US and Canada. In continental European countries such as France and Germany the product is becoming increasingly popular, viewed as an imported speciality. Other players in the UK market that have this year launched shortbread products include Kate's Cakes and Honeybuns, according to Mintel's GNPD, which tracks product launches. The US and Canada have seen the introduction of a variety of shortbread and pecan products this year, including launches by Uprising Breads, Harrell Farms and Give & Go Prepared Foods.
Articles Courtesy of Bakery and

Oct 16

The Whisky Runs Dry for Boozy MPs
WHISKY-LOVING MPs have been told they can't have their favourite malt delivered to their homes - because supplies are running short. MPs are entitled to have cases of specially bottled House of Commons whisky delivered at a bargain price. But the Commons caterers have written to tell them the home delivery service has been scrapped because supplies of the Water of Life are running low. Bar chiefs are confident they have enough whisky left to keep the optics filled in Westminster. But they can't provide the home service until new whisky suppliers Elgin-based Gordon & MacPhail - take over the Commons whisky contract next month. The firm won the prestigious deal after MPs selected their malt at a tasting session earlier this year. Traditionally the Speaker of the House of Commons selects the whisky. But this time it was left to MPs because current speaker, Glasgow North MP Michael Martin, knows nothing about whisky. A letter to MPs said: "We apologise for any incon-venience... and expect the new service to commence in early November." MPs pay £150 for a case of 12 bottles, including VAT, delivered to any UK address. The whisky normally costs £17.50 a bottle in the House of Commons shop.
Articles Courtesy of The Sunday Mail

Oct 13

LCBO whisky promotion "rocks" across Ontario
Whisky Rocks Unplugged is a four-week promotion currently in 600 LCBO stores across Ontario, highlighting the world's finest whiskies, including 20 new products making their first appearance in Canada. "Equally enjoyed in a cocktail or after-dinner drink, whisky is recognized as one of the most versatile spirits in the world," says Michael Riley, Business Unit Director, LCBO Spirits Category. "Although made differently and exhibiting unique characteristics in each country of origin, whisky has universal appeal." A free brochure with recipes and tasting notes will help customers identify and appreciate the differences in aroma, colour and style for themselves. Consumers can look for the Whisky Rocks Unplugged tour bus, traveling to more than 20 Ontario cities during the promotion. Canadian singer Tara Slone, from one of the summer's hottest television reality shows is on board and will be performing live at select LCBO stores. Customers will also have the opportunity to pick up a Puretracks(TM) card with two free music downloads while quantities last and there will be more than 700 in-store tastings of the featured products. Visit for the list of scheduled events. During the promotion, which runs until November 5th, this "Distilled Collection" offers a selection of new and classic whisky favourites from Canada, Ireland, United States, Scotland and Japan. This collection is designed to appeal to aficionados and new whisky drinkers alike. "Working closely with our suppliers and leveraging our buying power, we've been able to bring Ontario consumers a wide range of new and innovative spirits," adds Riley. For example, the global launch of Wiser's Reserve Canadian Whisky, and other firsts for Canada, including, Danfield's Private Reserve, which is crafted in small batches to deliver a premium tasting experience. There are also 31 unique, premium whiskies in limited quantities available exclusively to the LCBO and Canada at 68 LCBO stores during this promotion. This includes Nikka Yoichi Single Malt 10 years old. There are 100 cases of this truly original product from Japan. Centennial 10 Year Limited Edition Canadian Rye Whisky, which is made using the finest Canadian soft winter wheat and rye grains, distilled in limited lots and aged for ten years, is another featured product, along with 10 new products from Scotland. Canadian whisky is the highest selling spirit in Canada, and represents over $360 million dollars in sales for the LCBO. Whisky as a whole is growing in popularity, with Irish and American whisky showing double digit growth. For more information on Whisky Rocks Unplugged and featured products and tastings, call the toll-free LCBO Infoline at 1-800-ONT-LCBO (668-5226). In Toronto, call 416 365-5900 or visit your nearest LCBO store. The TTY number for the deaf and hearing impaired is 416 864-6898 or 1-800-361-3291. You can also access the LCBO web site at
Articles Courtesy of Newswire Canada

Oct 12

Supportive of Need to Secure Long-term Future of Scots Cereal Producers
Scotland's distillers recognise the importance of farmers in their supply chain and the need for their operations to be profitable, the Scotch Whisky Association said last night. The comment come after a meeting between it and NFU Scotland. The union has in recent years complained bitterly at poor malting barley prices. In contrast distillers have over the same period largely reported increasing profits from whisky produced from malting barley bought at almost double the current price. The meeting between the union and SWA focused on the need for profitability across all parts of the supply chain. The union welcomed the association's continued support for local supplies and its Scottish-first policy for grain, but complained again at farmgate prices for barley remaining at unprofitable levels. Vice-president Bob Howat said: "There is profitability at the distilling end of the trade. Up to a point that works in the interests of farmers as well because we need our customers to be financially sustainable. However, to get security of supply, there must be profitability throughout the chain." David Houghton, the union's cereals committee chairman who farms near Tain, said: "I need buyers to understand that, for example, my fuel costs rocketed 50% this year and that reducing grain prices make a financially difficult situation even worse. If I am going to keep producing quality cereals, I need a price that reflects the cost of producing them." Mr Howat said growing decisions in the wake of Common Agricultural Policy reforms would be based on market signals and if prices remained poor the area turned over to cereal crops would remain at the 30-year low. The SWA said the meeting with the union was constructive and would become annual. It had also asked the union to make a presentation to its cereal committee. Spokesman David Williamson said SWA members were supportive of the need to secure the long-term future of cereal farmers. Prices could not be discussed because of competition law concerns, and it was the wider market that dictated price not the distillers. Mr Williamson said SWA members also faced many of the same issues over energy costs and an increased regulatory burden as farmers. He added: "We want to learn more about the issues facing the agricultural sector and we look forward to that. We want to work to the mutual benefit of a successful Scotch whisky industry supply chain."
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

Oct 10

Liquid News
Highland Park, an 18-year-old single malt Scotch whisky, has been named as one of the world's top 100 distilled spirits by prestigious American drinks publication, Spirit Journal. The Highland Park range of malts are aged from 12 to 30 years. The 18-year-old malt, £58, has a mature oak bouquet and a rich full flavour with traces of honey and peat. See for stockists. Chef Nick Wood recommends Campo Viejo Crianza, a smooth, elegant Spanish wine, as the perfect complement for Pan-Fried Mackerel. This wine costs around £5.99 and is available from Tesco, Sainsbury's, Oddbins and Morrisons. Try Gran Campo Viejo Cava, a sparkling wine, aged for a minimum of 18 months, as the accompaniment to the Vanilla-Baked Banana, Pear and Apple. It costs around £6.99 from Sainsbury's. Lovers of French wine can "tour" the country's most famous vineyards with wine master Clive Coates in his new book, The Great Wines of France (Mitchell Beazley, £30, available October). The book includes up-to-date vintage information on 40 of France's top domains, as well as Coates' personal tasting notes.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal
Oct 8
Distiller's Strategy Working as Grant's Named Top of the Scots
William Grant and Sons, the Moray distiller, has been named the biggest Scottish mid-market private company in a prestigious index due to be published tomorrow. The company is ranked at the top of the Scots table compiled as part of the Sunday Times Top Track 250, which ranks firms by their latest sales figures. The figures show that Grant's, which this week announced the purchase of a French brandy company, had sales of £328million in 2003, achieving operating profits of £60million. The firm has been pursuing an adventurous diversification strategy over recent months which has seen it enter new spirits markets, complementing its whisky brands such as top-selling single malt Glenfiddich. The firm, based near Dufftown, is owned by the Grant and Gordon family, who are the eighth wealthiest in Scotland, worth £470million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. Fellow distiller the Edrington Group, based in Glasgow, is ranked in second place in the league table, with sales of £254million in the year to March 2005 and operating profits of £67million. Edrington, 76% owned by the Robertson Trust, is best known for its single malts The Macallan, distilled on Speyside, and Highland Park from Orkney, and leading blend the Famous Grouse. The top 10 Scots firms featured in the list also include Dundee-based food wholesaler and retailer CJ Lang & Son, with sales of £226million in the year to April 2004, and Aberdeenshire housebuilder Stewart Milne, with sales of £217million in the year to June 2005. A total of 28 companies with headquarters in Scotland feature in the Top Track 250, with combined sales of £5.2billion in their latest financial year. Between them they employed 43,810 staff. Prominent mid-market companies in the UK league table include football clubs Manchester United, with sales of £169.1million, Arsenal, £156.9million, and Chelsea, £152.1million.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal
Oct 7
Whisky firm backing for Tartan Army
In a three-year deal the company will partner the Scottish Football Association as the first official sponsors of the Scotland Supporters Club. It will also become the first official backers of the Association of Tartan Army clubs. Scotland manager Walter Smith said: "I think a sponsorship of the supporters rather than the team is a great and a very noble idea. "Scotland fans are known for their support and I will always remember entering the San Siro and seeing them at the far end. "That was fantastic and I will never forget that. The support of the Tartan Army is second to none and I thoroughly support this sponsorship".
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman Evening Times
Oct 7
Wm Grant adds brandy to the mix
WILLIAM Grant & Sons, Scotland's largest family-owned whisky firm, with bases in London and Belshill, has further underlined its international ambitions with the acquisition of premium French brandy company Raynal & Cie in a deal thought to be worth almost €60 million (£41m). The French company, which has been headquartered in the French city of Cognac for 165 years, will bring with it not only the famous brands of Three Barrels and Raynal, but also strong positions in the UK, Canada, Spain, China and particularly the US, where it is the number one selling premium brandy. William Grant's deputy managing director, Tony Hunt, told The Scotsman: "The Three Barrels and Raynal brands have, for some years now, been owned by financial institutions and we believe that they will acquire greater value in the ownership of William Grant, given that our family-owned company has been building international spirits brands for over 100 years. "The Raynal & Cie acquisition will allow us to broaden our portfolio and increase market share in the major spirits markets of the UK and US and we will work with the current Raynal & Cie management team and distribution network to build the long-term value of these great brands." According to Hunt, Three Barrels and Raynal are particularly strong in the UK and US, and as brand leaders command a premium price within the market for French brandy. In recent years Raynal brandy has also begun to establish a presence in Eastern Europe and Asia. Sales throughout the world are currently more than 530,000 cases a year. William Grant, famous for its whiskies including Glenfiddich, Grant's and The Balvenie, has in recent years beefed up its non-whisky portfolio by acquiring a number of premium brands, including Gibson's Canadian whisky and OVD rum. In 2001, the company also launched Scottish-distilled Hendrick's gin, the 119-year-old whisky maker's first foray into white spirits. More recently, in late 2002, it bought the Icelandic Polstar Vodka brand, and soon after set up its wholly owned subsidiary Polstar Vodka Company. Polstar is distilled in Denmark and only bottled in Iceland, but the company last month invested £1.3m setting up Reyka Vodka, Iceland's first and only distillery. At the time, Roland van Bommel, Grant's chief executive, said: "As we broaden our spirits portfolio beyond Scotch whisky, future growth will come from the continued success of our core brands of Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Grant's, and through the development of innovative new spirits like Reyka and Hendrick's gin." William Grant's Glenfiddich is the world's most popular single malt whisky, the Grant's brand is the world's fourth most popular blended whisky. Its most recent accounts show it made a pre-tax profit of £68.7m in 2003, up 13 per cent on the previous year, on turnover up 2 per cent to £329m.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
Oct 5
Teacher’s announces £1.5m investment
Teacher’s Scotch whisky has unveiled a £1.5m investment programme in a bid to reinforce its position among the UK’s 12.5 million whisky drinkers. Forming part of its 175th anniversary celebrations, the programme features a return to national press advertising in October with an all new campaign designed to differentiate Teacher’s from less flavoursome blends that make up the UK Scotch whisky market. Targeting traditional whisky consumers – men aged 50 plus – the campaign will run in a number of national daily and Sunday newspapers including The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph through to December.
Articles Courtesy of The Publican
Oct 5
Whisky giant wins by a nose
AHEAD by a nose — that’s distillers William Grant & Sons, who have gained a top industry award. And Ayr-born master blender David Stewart is the man whose nose has helped them gain the accolade. Grants, who have a major distillery at Girvan, were named International Spirits Challenge (ISC) Distiller of the Year. And the acclamation comes because the firm gained a record number of awards in this year’s ISC. Grants scooped no fewer than 30 medals, including golds for Glenfiddich 1991 Vintage Reserve, The Balvenie Portwood 21-Year-Old single malt, Glenfiddich Caoran Reserve 12-Year-old, and Grants 25-Year-Old Rare and Extraordinary blended Scotch. David Stewart, who has over 43 years experience, collected the trophy on the company’s behalf at a dinner in London. David is now sharing his award-winning experience with apprentice malt master Brian Kinsman. Although renowned for whiskies, Grants recently announced a £1 million investment in Iceland’s first distillery, to produce a luxury vodka called Reyka. And their other products include Hendricks Gin, proving popular in the swish bars of New York, London and Edinburgh. Grants are an independent family-owned firm with three distilleries — Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Girvan. They also own 30% of Highland Distillers, whose brands include The Macallan and Highland Park single malts, as well as The Famous Grouse blend.
Articles Courtesy of IC Ayrshire
Oct 3
Talk about a dram fine comeback
JOHN BLACK, manager of the Tullibardine Distillery, is giving a talk about the re-birth of the distillery at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society tomorrow night.
The distillery was re-launched 18 months ago by co-directors Doug Ross, above, and Mike Beamish. The talk is being held at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society's headquarters, Giles Street, Leith.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
Oct 3
Swedes win right to name daughter after Scottish whisky brand
A SWEDISH couple have won a bizarre legal battle to name their daughter after the smallest whisky distillery in Scotland. Magnus and Maria Eklof were forced to go to court in their native country after they were initially banned from calling their baby girl Edradour. They insisted they wanted to name the girl after the distillery and surrounding area in Highland Perthshire. The couple fell in love with the picturesque spot during a recent visit to Scotland and chose the unusual name for their first child. But the Swedish Tax Office, which registers the names of all newborn babies in the country, refused to allow their choice. The office claimed the name was too closely associated with an alcoholic drink brand - one of the name categories which parents are forbidden to bestow upon their children in Sweden. "I'm interested in whisky," Magnus said, "but this is more about the place. We visited Scotland and fell in love with this area. Edradour is one of the most beautiful places in the world and we wanted to name our beautiful daughter after it." The office told the Eklofs, from Soderhamn on the east coast of Sweden, that they would not be allowed to use Edradour as a name. However, the couple insisted that they did not want to call their daughter anything else because the place was so special to them. They went to court and discovered on Friday that they had won the right to give their daughter the name they wanted - so she is now Edradour Eklof. Magnus said: "We are very pleased we have been allowed to use Edradour because we think it is a special name." Andrew Symington, owner of the distillery, said he was delighted the couple had chosen to call their daughter Edradour. He said: "I bought this place because I fell in love with it. It is a unique, special place and many returning visitors tell us they have become very attached to it. "I have heard of a champion terrier from a few years back called Edradour. There is also a barge in Amsterdam named after us and a fisherman from Australia wanted to name his boat after the distillery. "But this is the first time I have come across an actual person called Edradour. We will be sending them a case of whisky as a way of congratulating the couple." The Edradour distillery, which is set in the hamlet of Balnauld above Pitlochry, claims to be the smallest in Scotland. The name Edradour is thought to derive from the Gaelic "Edred dhobar" which means "the stream of King Edred" or "between two waters". Swedish Tax Office rules on child-naming were set up to prevent parents giving their children inappropriate or unsuitable names. Parents have to argue their case in a special court to have the decision overturned.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
29 July

Whisky giant's celebration blow
WHISKY icon Johnnie Walker has been snubbed by his home town on the 200th anniversary of his birth, it is claimed. While places such as New York salute the 'striding man' with a gala day, it has passed unnoticed in Kilmarnock. Douglas Reid, of East Ayrshire Council's SNP group, said: "I asked our chief executive if something can be done to mark the occasion." Walker's tea brewing skills led to the creation of the whisky.
Articles Courtesy of The Evening Times

26 July

End of Era for Distillery Groups Staff in Scotland
Around 1,200 staff at distilleries and bottling plants of Allied Distillers in Scotland will be working for new employers from today after the completion of the Pernod Ricard-led £7.6billion takeover of Allied Domecq. They include staff at Allied Distillers' single malt whisky distilleries at Scapa in Orkney, Glendronach at Forgue near Huntly, and Tormore on Speyside. They will be joined by staff at Ballantine's and Teacher's blending and bottling plants in central Scotland and headquarters at Dumbarton. Pernod will take the bulk of Allied's brands while its partner in the takeover, US company Fortune Brands, the owner of Jim Beam bourbon, will acquire the Laphroaig single malt distillery on Islay and Teacher's whisky in the deal. Pernod will also sell off its Glen Grant distillery at Rothes as a condition of European regulatory approval for the acquisition. Glen Grant is the biggest selling whisky in Italy, and the deal would have given Pernod too dominant a position in the Italian market if it did not dispose of something. Allied staff in Scotland marked the last day of the company's independence yesterday by watching a video sent out by the group's chief executive, Philip Bowman, in which he praised staff and thanked them for their efforts. Mr Bowman added that he was proud to be handing on the company in such good shape to its new owner. Each member of Allied Domecq's 11,000 workforce around the world will also receive a clock; except in Asian countries, where such a gift is associated with death, but they will receive pens. The French drinks giant will cement its place behind British group Diageo as the world's second biggest liquor business. Shareholders in both Allied and Pernod have approved the cash and shares deal, which has also gained regulatory clearance in Europe, the US, and Canada. The transaction is the biggest in the drinks industry since 1997, when Diageo was formed in a merger. Pernod was already a force in the Scotch whisky industry before the acquisition, with brands including The Glenlivet, Aberlour, Chivas Regal, Longmorn, Strathisla and 100 Pipers. It is now adding Ballantine's, Scapa, Glendronach and Tormore to its portfolio, along with other brands including Beefeater gin, Malibu rum, Stolichnaya vodka, Tia Maria and Kahlua liqueurs, and Mumm and Perrier Jouet champagne. Fortune Brands will also take Sauza tequila, Maker's Mark bourbon, Courvoisier cognac, Canadian Club whiskey, and various wine brands. Fortune is paying Pernod £2.8billion for the brands it will take over. On completion of that deal Fortune will become the world's fourth largest drinks company. In a sequel to the deal, Pernod has agreed to sell its Bushmills Irish whiskey to Diageo, which has also been offered an option to buy Allied's Montana New Zealand wines.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal

26 July

Highland Park named world's No1 spirit
A WHISKY produced at a distillery in Orkney has been named the best spirit in the world by a leading drinks magazine in the United States. The Highland Park 18-year-old single malt topped a list of the world's 100 best distilled spirits, published in the American Spirit Journal. The list was compiled by the American drinks specialist Paul Pacult, who judged thousands of whiskies, rums, gins, vodkas, tequilas and other distilled spirits for the list. He said: "Out of the hundreds of whiskies from Scotland, Canada, the US, Japan, India and Ireland, Highland Park 18-year-old is the finest of them all and right now is my favourite distilled spirit. He added: "After 25 years' experience, it fits my profile of what makes a perfect whisky, which is to say it's totally in harmony, there are no rough edges and everything is melded together brilliantly." The announcement was welcomed by Highland Park, which is based in Kirkwall, Orkney. Ken Grier, the director of malts for the distillery, said: "It's not only a huge accolade for Highland Park, it's a major achievement for Scottish whisky. "It's fantastic for the industry as a whole and it underpins the care, craft and attention we put into our brands." Yesterday, an independent whisky expert said the award would not come as a surprise to lovers of Scottish whisky as the Highland Park 18-year old is a "single malt that really sings to you". Jim Murray, the author of the international bestseller Jim Murray's Whisky Bible, said the whisky was very nearly flawless. "It's the kind of whisky that if you are entertaining a young lady who doesn't like whisky and you pour a Highland Park 18, you will convert her. "It is a massively beautiful whisky. On the nose, it's like an empty honey jar that once held peaty embers. It possesses a soft sweetness that is never over the top." Murray added that his favourite whisky is not Highland Park 18, but George T Stagg, a bourbon produced at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in America. "There's no doubt that [the Highland Park] is one of the best, however," he added. Highland Park was established in 1798 and is Scotland's northernmost distillery. The brand, which has already won awards from Whisky Magazine and the Chicago Beverage Testing Institute, launched the 18-year-old single malt in 1997. It is priced at 58 a bottle. Other Scotch whiskies in the list's top ten included Ardbeg Uigeadail Islay Single Malt which came fourth, Bowmore Darkest Sherry Single Malt (ninth) and The Macallan Fine Oak 15-Year-Old Speyside Single Malt (tenth).
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
24 July

Gribbon leaves Whyte & Mackay
GLEN Gribbon, the former marketing chief of Whyte & Mackay, has joined Chartered brands, the brand renewal agency.
He spent six years with the whisky group and was part of the £210m management buyout which saw Whyte & Mackay rebrand as Kyndal in 2001 when it bought out the whisky subsidiary of Jim Beam Brands.
Articles Courtesy of The Herald

24 July

75m bidding war looms over whisky's third largest brand
A BIDDING war for control of the world's third-largest malt whisky brand will erupt this week when Pernod Ricard puts Glen Grant up for sale. Industry sources believe spirits giant Bacardi and luxury goods group LVMH are both interested in the deal, alongside Scottish firms such as William Grant & Sons and Whyte & Mackay. The brand, which is the top-selling whisky in Italy and has strong positions in Germany, France and South Africa, is expected to fetch around 75m. Pernod Ricard is being forced to sell Glen Grant by the European Union's competition authorities as a condition of its 9.4bn takeover of Allied Domecq - which is due to be formally signed off on Tuesday. Alan Gray, whisky analyst at Charles Stanley Sutherlands, said: "Glen Grant will attract a lot of interest. Major brands just don't come up for sale very often these days. While it might not sell much here it's huge in some countries. "I think it would make a good fit for Bacardi. And I expect LVMH to do more deals aside from Glenmorangie. Those two have got to be the front runners." A senior whisky industry source said: "We saw with the Glenmorangie bidding war that all kinds of people are interested in malt whisky these days. It's likely to fetch quite a high price." Glen Grant sells around 350,000 cases a year. In the malt whisky rankings it is pipped only by Glenfiddich, owned by Wm Grant & Sons, and The Glenlivet - a stablemate in Pernod's Chivas Brothers whisky empire. LVMH paid 300m for Glenmorangie last year, in a deal that included other whiskies including Ardbeg and Glen Moray, as well as the firm's bottling operations at Broxburn. But Glen Grant is less profitable than most of its peers as most of its stocks are sold as a lower-premium five-year-old product, making it less valuable to potential bidders than Glenmorangie. The EU is forcing Pernod to sell Glen Grant due to concerns about the enlarged group's share of the spirits market in southern Europe. The ruling also demanded the sale of two smaller whisky brands, Old Smuggler and Braemar, and two Portuguese brandies. Brown-Forman, the manufacturer of Jack Daniel's, is also tipped to be interested in bidding for Glen Grant. The American firm was originally one of the front-runners in the race for Glenmorangie, and had been its US distributor for 11 years. It was also a counter-bidder to Pernod for Allied Domecq but was forced to pull out of the race after its bid partner, Constellation Wines, decided to back out. Some industry sources believe Fortune Brands, which has already secured Islay malt Laphroaig and the Teachers whisky business as a result of Pernod's takeover of Allied, may also get involved. Although LVMH made a significant move into the whisky market through the Glenmorangie deal, industry experts said Glen Grant would fill a hole in its portfolio. Bacardi already owns the Dewar's whisky business and has recently increased its investment in the brand with a new advertising campaign. But the secretive family firm is believed to be keen to increase its exposure to whisky, and was another contender in the Glenmorangie bidding war. Sources close to Edrington, the owner of The Macallan and The Famous Grouse, said the Scottish firm was not be interested in bidding for Glen Grant. Diageo also distanced itself from a possible move. Mark Reynier, the ambitious owner of the Bruichladdich distillery on Islay, also ruled himself out of a Glen Grant bid. But he restated his interest in any other smaller distilleries that could come on to the market. Industry sources believe that the Glendronach and Ardmore malts could also be put up for sale by Pernod. Both are major components in the Teacher's blend, which could see them become non-core once the deal with Fortune goes through. It is unclear why the American firm did not buy the distilleries along with Teacher's brand. Pernod declined to comment on whether any further brands would be put on the market.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotland on Sunday

23 July

Dram fine Wedding Celebration
GA Dufftown man and his Dutch sweetheart have become the first couple to tie the knot at the home of one of Speyside's most famous single malts. Ewan MacPherson, 34, and Nadine Nebbelig, 28, became man and wife at the inaugural marriage service which was held at The Glenlivet Distillery, at Ballindalloch, earlier this month. The couple, who both live and work in Holland, decided earlier this year to marry near Mr MacPherson's home town of Dufftown but soon found themselves stumped as to a suitable location. Mrs MacPherson said: "We decided to get married in Scotland, but I didn't want a church wedding and I thought it would be shame to come all the way here to get married in a registrars. "We considered a castle, but they were all quite expensive so when we heard we could get married at the distillery we were absolutely thrilled." The Glenlivet, which gained its distilling license 180-years-ago, only just acquired a license to stage civil weddings in time for the big day. Mrs MacPherson described the ceremony, on July 9, which was held in a secluded part of the visitor centre and attended by 60 guests, as a truly special occasion. "It was great, I couldn't have asked for anything more. All our Dutch friends and relatives were very excited about it as most had never attended a traditional Scottish wedding, which added to the excellent atmosphere created by the staff. "That it was a historical moment, made it all the more special," she said. And there was no shortage of whisky at hand to toast the couple and their future together following the ceremony. Visitor Centre manager Caroline Mitchell said staff were delighted at the event's success. She said: "We were really excited about how it was going to go as it has never been done here before and were delighted when it went without a hitch. "We were also pleasantly surprised at the number of local people who turned out to watch as the couple arrived, and then waited until they were piped out at the end. "The sunny weather added to the beautiful scenery and the happy couple seemed delighted with their day." Now, requests are flooding in for future weddings at the distillery with enquiries already being taken for 2007.
Articles Courtesy of The Herald

22 July

Distiller invests for a profitable future
IAN Macleod Distillers saw profits nearly halve last year amid heavy investment in sales, marketing and production, and in particular the development of its peat-smoke-free Glengoyne single malt. Majority shareholder Leonard Russell, the third generation to run the family-owned business, said the strategy is paying off, with annualised sales of Glengoyne up 40%.
The company, whose other brands include London Hill gin and Isle of Skye whisky, acquired Langs whisky brands and Glengoyne distillery, just north of Glasgow, in 2003 for around £7.2m from drinks giant Edrington. Last year the distiller revealed plans to increase capacity at Glengoyne at least fivefold in a bid to push its unpeated single malt into the global top 10.
According to industry observers, Edrington – which owns the Famous Grouse blend and the Macallan and Highland Park malts – rebuffed more lucrative offers from overseas and sold what it privately described as its "favourite distillery" to the Broxburn, West Lothian-based Ian Macleod because it would be "true to the tradition of malt whisky making".
The drinks maker and bottler reported that it had boosted pre-tax profits by almost 50% in the year in which it bought Langs whisky brands and the Glengoyne distillery. Since then, however, bottom-line performance has deteriorated, partly because of a sharp rise in the firm's annual interest bill.
Known until January 2004 as the Peter J Russell holding group, Ian Macleod saw its pre-tax surplus decline to £321,785 for the year to the end of September 2003, compared with £616,907 for the previous 12 months. Operating profits before interest tax also fell, while less sharply, from £1.32m to £1.27m. Group turnover rose 13% in 2004, to £20.9m.
Leonard Russell stressed that the firm had taken a conscious decision to invest for the future: "Having been quite nervous about buying the (Glengoyne) distillery at the start we gave it a 'kickstart' and that is paying off. Profits will certainly come back this year."
Macleod has also launched a sales push in India, appointing a country manager and two other staff to penetrate a market for Scotch whisky that is growing at 20% a year. Domestic distillers still enjoy tax advantages, but Russell expects these to disappear with the imposition of free trade rules.
Last year Macleod launched a £400,000 sales and marketing campaign to develop its Isle of Skye eight-year-old brand in the UK. The Winning Number was the new communications strapline, highlighting the maturity of all the whiskies in the Isle of Skye blend.
Articles Courtesy of The Herald
20 July

US marshals’ whisky tasting turns sour
THREE US federal air marshals had "sensitive documents" relating to airline security and travel plans for high-level American diplomatic staff stolen during a whisky-tasting trip to a distillery at the start of the G8 summit. The marshals' hire car was broken into. Personal identification was also taken while the three were at the Glengoyne Distillery, Strathblane, 15 miles north of Glasgow. The theft triggered a security alert involving Special Branch and the US secret service. Police searched fields nearby. Central Scotland Police said yesterday "a theft from a car parked at the distillery was being investigated". The marshals, usually armed, arrived on flights bringing US State Department and White House officials and aides into Prestwick in advance of the summit at Gleneagles hotel. No one was available for comment at the department's Washington headquarters. A source at the Glengoyne Distillery said: "We reckon they were followed by hard-core G8 protesters. No one here can remember the last time a car was broken into in the car park." The source said that the air marshals were stunned when they found out what was missing and "demanded a telephone and privacy while they reported to their own authorities. Special Branch were on the scene very quickly. "They were red-faced . . . and it wasn't the whisky they had been sampling."
Articles Courtesy of The Herald
20 July

A dram fine idea to link words and the finest malts
MATCHING the power of words with the glories of fine malt whisky, the fruits of a creative collaboration between the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and the business writers' collective "26" go on display in Edinburgh next month. The project "26 Malts" - unique whiskies labelled with specially commissioned graphic and descriptive labels - can be viewed at the society's Queen Street premises prior to their appearance at the National Design Festival in London. Their labels were designed in a collaboration among 26 mostly Scottish writers from the group dedicated to raising the standards of writing in business. The new bottlings, whose labels were inspired by tastings for the writers and designers, are available to SMWA members, with the complete set selling for around 1000. Founded three years ago, 26 Scotland was inspired by the idea that business is failing to take advantage of the communicative power of creative writing, both as a means of expressing corporate personality and of communicating with customers. Stuart Delves of 26 said: "So much of what businesses produce in the way of writing is written as an afterthought, without any thought or sense of telling a story about the business. "These days, when everyone has high standards of graphic presentation, it is quality writing that sets people apart from their competitors. This 26 Malts project, in which all the participants have given their time freely, is a way of raising the profile of the organisation and of promoting creative writing and design within business. "The society has a great product to sell, and this opens new avenues to them, so everyone wins." The bottles will be on display at the SMWA premises at 28 Queen Street from 1 August.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
13 July

Drinks magnate in surprise sale
THEY own an internationally famous drinks brand and are renowned for living the extravagant lifestyle afforded to one of Scotland's richest families. The reclusive MacKinnon brothers, who own the Drambuie empire, are notorious for their social largesse, whether it be holidaying in the Bahamas or shooting in the Highlands. But eyebrows have been raised among industry observers following the decision of Malcolm MacKinnon to put his stunning mansion in Fife up for sale, with a price tag of offers over £2.5m. The 46-year-old elder brother of the dynasty has even taken the rare step of appointing two leading estate agencies to handle the sale. The sale of Pittormie House, just six miles from St Andrews, comes after the publication of company accounts which show Drambuie is due to make a £1m repayment on a bank loan next month. The company last night insisted that there was no link between the decision to sell and Drambuie's balance sheet, which it described as being "very healthy". However, the firm has faced recent difficulties and the future is far from certain. In the 1970s and 1980s, Drambuie was regarded as a market leader in the sweet alcoholic beverage category. But in recent years it has struggled with increased competition as larger companies, such as Diageo, have introduced a plethora of alternative drinks to the marketplace. Companies House records for Drambuie Ltd show the whisky maker made a loss of £3m for the year ending June 30, 2003. The board managed to turn it around last year with a profit of £270,000, but this was only achieved by selling its former production plant at Kirkliston, Edinburgh, for £2.5m. Malcolm and Duncan MacKinnon recently announced the family's artworks, one of Scotland's finest collections, will be sold in January 2006. They are expected to fetch £3m in total. The brothers are also waiting to hear the outcome of a court action that has been brought by a Greek distribution firm which, it is claimed, could cost them £4m. Scotland on Sunday can also reveal the pair recently gave up their posts as joint managing directors to become non-executive directors, although they remain majority shareholders. Instead, the firm is now being run by chief executive Phil Parnell, a former managing director of Dunlop and marketing director of United Distillers. Whatever the reason for the sale of Pittormie, interest in the property, complete with 20 acres of land, is high and the eventual purchase price is likely to hit £3m. The estate of Pittormie was originally given to Ludovic, the Duke of Lennox, by James VI in 1593. The current building, which has been extensively developed, dates from 1764. Land Registry records show that Mackinnon and his wife Pamela bought Pittormie nine years ago for £785,000. Since then they have held it under a children's trust. The lavish accommodation includes seven en-suite bedrooms and has recently been refurbished. The accompanying steadings have an indoor swimming pool, gym, and billiard and table tennis rooms. The property also boasts a tennis court, arboretum, paddocks and an indoor cinema. Mackinnon was unavailable for comment when Scotland on Sunday called at his main residence in Edinburgh's upmarket Barnton district. The residence, situated behind wooden security gates and described by one neighbour as a "fortress", was bought for more than £1m in 1993. "The family are on holiday," a housekeeper said. "I've no idea what other property they've got and what they're doing with it." A spokeswoman for Knight Frank, one of the estate agencies handling the Pittormie sale, refused to go into detail, but said: "There's been quite a lot of interest and that has come from all over the place. It's impossible to say what it'll go for." A Drambuie spokeswoman said: "The sale of the house has nothing to do with the company. It is a personal decision by Malcolm MacKinnon. It is a private family house and is not on the balance sheet of Drambuie."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
13 July

Whisky workers drink to Lotto win
Six women who work in a whisky plant are in high spirits after scooping a
£15 million Lotto jackpot.
The syndicate at Glasgow's Morrison Bowmore whisky bond, who are celebrating
Scotland's biggest lottery win, are not expected to return to work after
their cash windfall.
The workers, who each collect £2.5 million, have already taken some time off
the production line to come to terms with the mammoth jackpot.
But they have returned to toast their fortune with a dram at the plant in
the city's Springburn area.
A spokeswoman for Morrison Bowmore Distillers said: "The company are over
the moon for the girls. They work in the shop floor and no one deserves it
more than them.
"They are still trying to come to terms with it but I doubt they will be
returning to work."
Their winning numbers were 22, 37, 7, 20, 23, 34 and the bonus ball was 38.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
13 July

£240,000 pours in with spirit of Speyside
Scotland's biggest celebration of the water of life was worth almost £240,000 to the Moray economy this year, according to the organisers.
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, held over five days at the end of April and beginning of May, is thought to have brought in £239,000 in direct expenditure.
An estimated 6,400 people visited the area during the event, a huge increase on the 1,200 estimated for 2003 and 2,200 last year.
The growth is largely being put down to an expansion of community-based events at Aberlour, which this year joined Dufftown as the hub of the festival, which is now in its eighth year.
About 180 events were organised this year, compared with 120 in 2004.
Once indirect expenditure and induced expenditure is taken into account, the total worth of the festival to Moray could be more than £465,000, according to secretary Wendy Clements.
Mrs Clements yesterday released the evaluation of the festival, which showed that visitors from as far as America, Vietnam, Russia, Japan and Israel attended.
There were also large numbers from Sweden, Germany and other western European countries, as well as the UK.
Over 1,400 feedback forms distributed during the festival formed the basis of the evaluation report.
Respondents were asked to estimate how much money they spent in a 24-hour period for themselves and their dependants.
The figures also show that 60% of respondents were in Moray specifically for the festival, while a third were first-time visitors.
The event is run by the Moray Tourism Forum, with financial support from Moray Council, Moray Badenoch and Strathspey Enterprise and this year a grant from EventScotland.
Mrs Clements said the findings of the report were crucial to improving and expanding the festival and to form a basis for future grant applications.
Suggestions for improvements included more transport, better ticketing arrangements and the need for more distilleries to participate.
"Only 28% of respondents suggested improvements and many of those were happy with it as it is," said Mrs Clements.
"Ninety-nine percent said they would return to the festival, a sure sign they thought it was a worthwhile event."
She said work was already under way organising the 2006 festival, which will run from April 27 to May 1. For details visit
Articles Courtesy of Press and Journal

13 July

Viking Commute
After the raping and pillaging, a surprising fertile legacy.
The Scottish isle of Islay has numerous place names that confirm the Norse settled there like Ellister (Ell’s steading), Nerabus (Knorr’s farm) and Sandaig (Sandy bay).
The Islay distillery of Bruichladdich has continued that association by growing again on the island for the first time in living memory the original Viking barley.
Managing Director Mark Reynier: “Bere barley was brought from Norway by the Vikings and dominated the northern landscapes for the next thousand years. It is ideally adapted to growing on poor soils, the short growing season, the long hours of daylight all found in the north. We are delighted at how well it is growing here and look forward to seeing what sort of a spirit we will get from it.”
Unexpectedly on 12th July an impressive, full scale 75 ft. replica of a Viking long boat built around 890 AD, slipped out of an unseasonable sea mist in dramatic fashion into Loch Indaal, mooring at Bruichladdich.
Reynier continued: “I looked out of the window and I could not believe my eyes – it was such a ghostly sight, this mighty ship with authentically dressed crew that seemed to appear out of nowhere. I thought I must have had one too many.”
Gaia Skipper Bjarne Hovland: “Gaia means 'Mother Earth' after the Greek God and the long boat GAIA represents the past and present in harmony wih the natural environment. The Gaia Network is an independent, non-profit movement, working towards a better environment and sustainable development. Bruichladdich, with their organic whisky programme, augmented now by Viking Bere barley brought here by our forefathers, fits that bill and is certainly worth the detour.”
Mark enthused: “I live right on the sea, so I had to ask if they would give me a lift home after touring the distillery. You can imagine, my four year old son’s face when a 75ft Viking longboat drew up in front of the house…”
Articles Courtesy of Bruichladdich

10th July

Single Malt & Engineering for Life
The 7th World Congress of Chemical Engineering, Glasgow that opened in Glasgow on Sunday 10th July featured a lecture on making Scotch whisky – by Americans.
The international scientific panel chose the paper “Making Scotch: Engineering, Chemistry and Education”, by Dr John Collier from the University of Tennessee.
The theme for the congress is ‘innovation and achievement’ - reflecting technical advances as well as economic, environmental and social challenges facing chemical engineering today. The congress seeks to promote cross fertilisation of ideas to achieve excellence in the field.
The research focused around the differences between Tennessee Whisky, Kentucky Bourbon and Single Malt Scotch production and was carried by the University of Tennessee’s Chemical Engineering Department over two successive summers at the Bruichladdich Distillery Whisky Academy on Islay.
Master Distiller Jim McEwan: “when we started our whisky academy in 2004 we wanted to provide the opportunity for people of all walks of life to experience first hand the art of distilling, the magic of Islay and the warmth of it’s people. What better way than making whisky yourself. We were delighted when the University of Tennessee approached us to come and experience what we are doing at here.”
John Collier: “There are not many places left in the world where you can work on an authentic, Victorian distillery that has not been computerised. We can provide lots of technical answers to what’s actually going on in distilling – but incredibly they seem to already know instinctively. When the distillery was laid out in 1881 it was a very effective set up, state of the art. It is no surprise to us that the Bruichladdich whisky made here is the purest in Scotland”.
Articles Courtesy of Bruichladdich

April/June 2005

Malt Exports increase
2004 was a very good year for malt whisky exports, which rose by 15% in value, with more than 55m bottles of malt shipped overseas.
However the volume and value of total Scotch Whisky exports have fallen by 2% and 6% respectively since 2003, according to the Scotch Whisky Association.
The Association said the fall reflected lower bulk whisky shipments as well as difficult economic conditions in certain key markets: South Korea alone accounted for 40% of the fall in value.
SWA chairman Ian Good said: " Double-digit growth for bottled in Scotland malt whisky around the world, and an increase in bottled blend shipments, is good news for distillers and the Scottish jobs that depend on the industry.
Consumers are looking for variety, flavour and authenticity when they buy and these are qualities Scotch Whisky has in abundance. While exports overall have fallen on 2003, this was expected in the face of difficult economic conditions in certain key markets, and Scotch Whisky exports remain at a historical high level."
Articles Courtesy of Packaging Scotland

unknown source
10 July

Summit out of nothing
TULLIBARDINE. Remember the name. It's about to become one of the most famous whisky brands in the world. Not because of the quality of its malt whisky, although I have tasted it and it's not bad, nor because it has just launched a whisky-flavoured beer, which I admit is a pretty headline-grabbing concept. It's not even because its new owners have pulled off a major coup in persuading the enormously experienced John Black out of retirement to manage the distillery.
No, Tullibardine's extreme good fortune lies in its location: just off the busy main road between Stirling and Perth, five miles south of Gleneagles - which, in case you haven't heard, is where the world and his wife have been in recent days.
With more than 3,000 bored and thirsty journalists driving past its door each day during the G8 summit, Tullibardine will have received the full paparazzi treatment. And that's fine by me; having visited countless distilleries across Scotland, I have every confidence that this quaint little distillery, with its new visitor centre, up-market shop and range of soft, mellow whisky, will not let the side down.
For a start its owners, a private consortium led by Michael Beamish and Doug Ross, are too canny to let this opportunity pass. "We're going to move the security camera from the back of the shop to the front of the distillery tour," says Ross. "If anyone does pop in from the summit, we want it recorded for posterity."
The only excitement so far has been the local police force speed-trialling their new motorbikes on the main road in preparation for the arrival of the world's leaders. Ross and Beamish are hoping all that will change.
Ten years ago Tullibardine stood empty; mothballed by its owners, it was nothing short of a disgrace - a bleak, unloved, deserted distillery on the side of one of Scotland's busiest roads.
Along with French vineyards and London football teams, buying a distillery is right up there in fantasy job land, and the economics are challenging to say the least. But Ross and Beamish, who had both enjoyed distinguished careers in the whisky industry, had a plan.
With profits from their whisky not likely to come on stream for another ten years, even though they had a healthy backlog of stock, they decided to extract as much capital as they could from the land adjacent to the site. They did this by establishing a modest-sized, upmarket retail park, restaurant and visitor centre. The site, in other words, pays for the distillery.
And then, of course, there is the whisky. Piggybacking on the booming wine market, they have decided to bottle in vintage editions rather than specified ages. So far they have bottled casks from 1993 and 1988. Added to the portfolio are a port-wood finish and now their new whisky ale. I tried them and thought they were reminiscent of Glengoyne - sweet, light, with a dash of honey and a medium fresh length. It is, as Ross says, "very much a premium product". Wasted on the journalists, then.
Tasting notes
(1) Blackford 1488 Majestic Whisky Ale, Tullibardine Distillery, 7%, £3.95
Tullibardine sits on the site of Scotland's first ever brewery, whose beer was enjoyed by King James IV. In order to commemorate this, the owners have named their latest beer after his coronation.
This is a very sweet beer with a slightly hoppy flavour reminiscent of Belgian beers. Bright amber in the glass, on the nose there is very little except for sweet honeycomb. In fact, I couldn't really detect much whisky.
(2) Tullibardine Vintage 1993, 40%, £26.50
A real old smoothie, arguably the Lionel Richie of malt whisky. Mellow and easy.
(3) Tullibardine Port Wood 1993, 46%, £35
Richer and fuller than the house style as a result of having spent ten months in a port wine cask. Retains its characteristic easy-drinking tag.
Stockists: All products are available at the distillery shop (, and at Royal Mile Whiskies, 379 High Street, Royal Mile, Edinburgh (0131 225 3383) and Edinburgh Wine Importers Limited, 27 Beaverhall Road, Edinburgh (0131 556 3601).
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
09 July

Whisky Industry To Lobby for Removal of Tariff Barriers
The latest efforts to tackle punitive tariff barriers of up to 525% on Scotch whisky exports will get under way in Geneva next week.
Officials from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) are due to attend the annual meeting of the World Spirits Alliance (WSA) to discuss the problems facing many producers.
The meeting will bring together spirits producers from around the world to discuss strategy ahead of the next World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial trade talks scheduled for later this year.
With 90% of Scotch whisky heading for export markets, tackling the problem of tariffs is a key priority for the industry.
The barriers affect access to more than 200 markets with some of the most punitive in India where duties range up to 525% per case, leaving Scotch whisky with just 2% of the lucrative market there because it severely impacts on the affordability of the products in the mass market.
The four-day meeting in Geneva will also include debate around issues such as liberalising import quotas, responsible drinking, and labelling. A spokesman for the SWA said the industry had devoted a "considerable" amount of time over many years in an effort to tackle the problem of tariffs.
"It is a key issue for our continuing success and something that the industry works very hard on," he said.
Articles Courtesy of Press and Journal

08 July

Whisky association prepares for crunch tariff talks
LEADING representatives of the Scotch whisky industry are flying to Geneva this weekend for a critical international meeting to lobby for the removal of the tariff barriers that are choking expansion in key markets.
The meeting of the World Spirits Alliance (WSA) is expected to focus on industry preparations for the next World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial trade talks, to be held in Hong Kong in December.
Gavin Hewitt, the chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), and four other officials of the trade body will attend the four-day meeting of the WSA, bringing together spirits producers from around the world.
Their chief aim is to pool ideas on how to use the WTO meeting to apply pressure on political leaders in key strategic markets to lower import tariffs.
In India - along with China, the most potentially lucrative growth market for Scotch - exporters must contend with tariffs of between 213 and 525 per cent on the price of a case.
Peter Wilkinson, the SWA's director of international affairs, said: "With 90 per cent of Scotch whisky sold overseas, the industry is campaigning for the removal of barriers which unfairly restrict access to 200 export markets. These take many forms, but all have the same effect of restricting availability to consumers.
"The meetings are a chance to highlight the industry's international trade priorities directly to WTO officials and national missions, as work on re-invigorating the Doha discussions continues."
Worth over £2 billion annually, the Scotch whisky industry represents 25 per cent of all UK food and drink exports.
Other topics for discussion include the liberalisation of import quotas and licensing requirements, product standards and labelling issues.
The WSA also wants to see liberalisation of restrictions on services, including distribution and advertising, and the harmonisation of customs procedures.
Also on the agenda is an industry-wide initiative to promote "responsible attitudes" to alcohol alongside the WH.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
07 July

Diageo losing spirit in European gloom time
DIAGEO, the world's biggest spirits group, today warned that the trading environment in Europe had taken a turn for the worse.
But the maker of Johnnie Walker Scotch still expects growth in annual operating profit of about six per cent.
The British firm, whose portfolio also includes Smirnoff vodka and Guinness beer, said that since it issued its half-year results in February, it has seen a slowing in European volume growth, with an easing of demand in the ready-to-drink market in the United States also having an impact.
In a trading statement covering the bulk of the last financial year, Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh said: "The consumer environment throughout Europe has worsened. Net sales, which were down one per cent in the first half, are therefore likely to be down further in the second half."
However, he added: "The business in Europe is beginning to benefit from operational efficiencies and this is expected to improve operating profit performance."
Diageo - which also owns the Gleneagles hotel which is currently hosting the G8 meeting of world leaders meeting - said that its eight main global brands, including Smirnoff, Baileys liqueur and Captain Morgan rum, had boosted underlying volumes in the year to June 30, 2005 by four per cent, similar to first-half growth.
Mr Walsh said the firm's beer brands, including Guinness, Harp and Red Stripe, had suffered, but that its wine brands, such as Piat d'Or, Justerini & Brooks and Blossom Hill, "continue to grow strongly" in their
key markets of the US and Britain.
Looking ahead over the current financial year, the company said it expected "similar" growth in organic volumes to that achieved in the year just ended, while it sees price increases and cost efficiencies boosting operating margins.
Diageo - which was formed in December 1997 through the merger of GrandMet and Guinness - faces increased competition as French rival Pernod Ricard is set to complete its takeover of Allied Domecq later this month bringing together the world's second and third-largest spirits producers and closing the gap on Diageo.
In the battle for Allied, Diageo sided with Paris-based Pernod and its US partner Fortune Brands, with the French group agreeing to sell Diageo its own Bushmills Irish whiskey and give it an option to buy Allied's New Zealand Montana wines.
Potential Allied suitor Constellation Brands - owner of Mondavi and BRL Hardy wines brands - threw in the towel in the fight for Allied last month, leaving the way clear for a Pernod takeover.
Mr Walsh said Diageo had put in place a number of cost-cutting initiatives in the past year which this year should reap savings of £50 million.
Full-year results will be announced on September 1.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
03 July

Drinks giant faces a split decision
AS THE shareholders of Allied Domecq vote tomorrow to sell the company for £7.5bn to Pernod Ricard, thereby creating a new force in the drinks industry, Paul Walsh will be doing his sums and pondering the future of his own company.
Walsh, chief executive of Diageo, was forced to sit out the bidding for Allied knowing that the sector's biggest player was just too big to join in. For Walsh, the questions he must answer are where he takes the Johnnie Walker to Guinness group, and whether he responds to those who believe it should be broken up.
As things stand Diageo is twice the size of its nearest rivals. Even though numbers two and three in the industry are coming together in the Pernod/Allied combination, Walsh's company will remain marginally bigger. The deal marks a turning of the tide for Diageo - and a dilemma for Walsh. Gone are the days when Diageo could raid and plunder as it pleased.
While he announced plans recently to raise £500m in the bond markets to fund acquisitions, Walsh admits the regulators won't let him do any more big deals. He hung on to the coat-tails of the Pernod/Fortune bid by agreeing to snap up the Bushmills whiskey brand and securing an option to take on Allied's Montana Wines business. But these deals are small fry - and a smaller haul of brands than the City expected Walsh to land once his involvement in the consortium became known.
Many in the industry think Diageo has simply become too big. If it wants to keep playing a significant role in the consolidation of the drinks industry - and have the freedom to make acquisitions in the markets that count - some believe it will have to spin off part of its business.
"There have been a handful of us saying for about two years now that Diageo should spin off Guinness," says one drinks analyst. "It stands completely separate from its spirits portfolio and is an entirely different proposition to anything else it has. They talk about places like Africa being important to Guinness, which makes you think some kind of deal with SABMiller might not be out of the question.
"If they don't do that, they should do something clever with the balance sheet to get some value back to shareholders and give them a bit more flexibility. They could securitise the maturing whisky stocks, for example. But I want to see them do something."
One of Diageo's institutional shareholders adds: "I can't see a break-up happening but it will be difficult for them to keep growing. They'll find partnerships and get into new territories, but it is difficult to see how they will keep growing."
Walsh is due to update the City on his trading prospects on Thursday. At the half-year results in February he revealed that pre-tax profits before exceptionals slipped from £1.29bn to £1.24bn. Part of this was down to the sale of most of its stake in General Mills, the US food retailer that bought Diageo's Pilsbury frozen food business in 2001.
But operationally there were still problems. While the US showed strong growth, the European market, where Diageo generates 70% of its sales, was sluggish at best. With the consumer economy struggling, particularly in the UK, there is little reason to believe this situation could have changed for the better.
Walsh has said previously that he can afford to sit back and watch while others try to emulate what he has already achieved. He has brands like Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, which go toe-to-toe with Pernod/Allied's Ballantine's or Chivas Regal whiskies, and its marketing agreement for Stolichnya vodka. So long as the cash keeps flowing through, and the dividends and buybacks continue, much of the City would be perfectly happy. But once the new Pernod organisation finds its feet, there is no telling how much damage it could do to Diageo's near-monopoly on top spirits brands.
Walsh's new war chest is primarily for making similar piecemeal spirits acquisitions to those he has recently done. The only portion of the drinks business where he is underexposed is in beer, which again draws the focus back to Guinness.
"It might make more sense for Diageo to buy more brewing assets," said another drinks industry analyst. "There wouldn't be any competition issues with that as spirits and beer are different markets, although it would put them head-to-head with all the brewers. They could justify it through synergies you could make with Guinness and another beer brand.
"While they say they have made a lot of synergies with Guinness by integrating it more closely with the rest of the business, they could make much more synergies if they had a lager business to work alongside Guinness. I put this to them recently and was told they hadn't ruled it out. Go back 12 months and they would have kicked that idea out straight away. This is not something I want them to do, but something they could do."
Any attempt to enter the global bidding war for brewing assets would not go down well in the City. As the battle for Colombia's Bavaria proves, the likes of SABMiller and Heineken are willing to pay top dollar for brewing assets, so Diageo would be forced to do likewise. But it is the only segment of the drinks market where Diageo could start doing deals without encountering problems from competition authorities - which could be tempting.
Should Diageo choose to continue piecing together a patchwork of small deals that fill in the areas where it is underexposed, it will probably keep most of its investors happy. Should egos get involved, who knows what Walsh will do to match the new kid in town.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
02 July

Aviators' Nip Around Scotland Raises £2,000
Two intrepid aviators have made a flying visit to all Scotland's whisky distilleries to photograph them from the air.
Perth Scottish Aero Club members Keith Boardman and Peter Bevan did a sponsored tour of all 104 Scottish malt distilleries in just one day.
The pair spent almost 14 hours photographing the distilleries from above in their two-seater Robin aircraft.
The trip, dubbed "A nip around Scotland", raised £2,000 for the Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Association.
The flight took months of careful planning using Ordnance Survey maps, to ensure the men could identify the distilleries from the air.
The only hitch came when there was a minor fault with the aircraft.
Mr Boardman said: "The failure of a canopy latch halfway around the route was a minor drama but it did not deter us, although it did increase the noise and the fuel consumption and resulted in a longer-than-planned flight duration."
Their flight path took in most of Scotland, stretching from Wigtown to Kirkwall and from Skye across to Montrose.
Mr Boardman and Mr Bevan stopped off at 11 airfields along the way before making a final touchdown in Perth at dusk.
To make a donation to the Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Association, visit Two intrepid aviators have made a flying visit to all Scotland's whisky distilleries to photograph them from the air.
Perth Scottish Aero Club members Keith Boardman and Peter Bevan did a sponsored tour of all 104 Scottish malt distilleries in just one day.
The pair spent almost 14 hours photographing the distilleries from above in their two-seater Robin aircraft.
The trip, dubbed "A nip around Scotland", raised £2,000 for the Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Association.
The flight took months of careful planning using Ordnance Survey maps, to ensure the men could identify the distilleries from the air.
The only hitch came when there was a minor fault with the aircraft.
Mr Boardman said: "The failure of a canopy latch halfway around the route was a minor drama but it did not deter us, although it did increase the noise and the fuel consumption and resulted in a longer-than-planned flight duration."
Their flight path took in most of Scotland, stretching from Wigtown to Kirkwall and from Skye across to Montrose.
Mr Boardman and Mr Bevan stopped off at 11 airfields along the way before making a final touchdown in Perth at dusk.
To make a donation to the Scottish Motor Neurone Disease Association, visit
Articles Courtesy of The Press & Journal

02 July

Craftsmen select their vintage spirit
A Speyside distillery has honoured its longest-serving craftsmen - by allowing them to select this year's vintage bottling.
The task is usually reserved for experts, but this year Glenfiddich has broken with tradition and put its faith in the people who actually make the whisky.
Coppersmith Dennis McBain, mashmen Brian Robertson and Bill Duncan, spirit handler George McDonald, warehouseman Eric Stephen, cooper Don Ramsay and malt master David Stewart - all of whom have worked at the Dufftown distillery for over 40 years - teamed up to choose the new vintage.
Mr McBain said: "We nosed and tasted a series of single malts all aged over 30 years from our warehouses and, by unanimous consent, we selected three casks from 1972 to be bottled.
"It was an incredible experience and a great honour to be given such an important task."
The Glenfiddich 1972 vintage will go on sale around the world at £249 a bottle.
Jens Tholstrup, who manages Glenfiddich's rare and old whisky portfolio, said Glenfiddich was committed to traditional whisky-making techniques and retained its own team of craftsmen.
He said: "Our coppersmith, stillmen, spirit handlers, coopers and warehousemen play a vital role in ensuring the quality of the whisky we produce and we were confident that they would be able to select an exceptional dram."
Articles Courtesy of The Press & Journal

01 July

Pernod wins US blessing in bid to swallow up Allied Domecq
DRINKS giant Allied Domecq was today closer to being bought by rival Pernod Ricard after regulators in the United States gave the deal the green light.
Pernod needed approval from the US Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice for its £7.4 billion takeover offer because it will carve up Allied's drinks portfolio with American partner Fortune Brands.
It comes less than 24 hours after Pernod won the backing of its own shareholders for the takeover and means Allied investors will now decide the fate of the deal when they meet on Monday.
The takeover involves Fortune acquiring Courvoisier cognac and whisky brands such as Teacher's and Laphroaig from Pernod.
Patrick Ricard, chairman of Pernod, welcomed US support for the deal, which followed last week's clearance by the European Commission.
"We now look forward to the outcome of the Allied Domecq shareholder meetings and believe that we remain firmly on track for meeting the proposed timetable with completion occurring by the end of July," he added.
Pernod was given a clear run at Allied last month when US-based Constellation Brands pulled out of takeover talks. The Allied portfolio includes Beefeater gin, Tia Maria and Ballantine's whisky.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
27 June

Whisky company smashes tasting records
Not only the attendance records were smahed.
Jon, Mark and Robbo's Easy Drinking Whisky Company claimed a new world record for whisky tasting, with 1,661 visitors sampling three of its malts - The Smokey Peaty One, The Rich Spicy One and The Smooth Sweater One.
The previous record was 1,210 and set in Sweden.
David "Robbo" Robertson said: "Our fun and flavoursome whiskies can now go down in history in bringing this record back home to Scotland from our Scandinavian friends in Sweden."
Mr Robertson is the former master distiller of The Macallan. His partners in the new company that includes his name are brothers Jon and Mark Geary.
They claim to have revitalised the whisky market, creating a range of whiskies that rely on taste rather than the typical tired images of heather and bagpipes.
Articles Courtesy of The Press & Journal

27 June

Cheap Scotch the battleground in supermarket price war
A BOTTLE of Scotch whisky at £6.86 is leading a price-cutting campaign by the supermarket chain Asda.
The trade magazine The Grocer said that the price-cutting was part of Asda's strategy to defeat arch-rival Tesco.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
25 June

Monkey See, Monkey Drink
With its funky name and groovy bottle, Monkey Shoulder, a new blended malt from William Grant & Sons, is likely to be cold-shouldered by the traditionalists, but its origins are rooted in whisky lore.
The whisky is inspired by, and named in honour of, the company's malt men, who are among the few still to turn the malting barley by hand using a shiel (wooden shovel).
Monkey shoulder was a nickname given to a temporary injury some malt men occasionally suffered many years ago as result of repeatedly bending over while turning the malt. Thanks to improvements in working practices, the condition no longer exists.
Blended from malt whiskies from three of Speyside's finest distilleries, Monkey Shoulder's smooth and rounded taste has accents of malty sweetness, vanilla, marmalade and barley sugar.
The bottle design, complete with three brass monkeys - each representing one of the constituent single malts - on the shoulder is not one to hide away in the drinks cabinet.
David Stewart, William Grant & Sons' malt master, said: "I hope people enjoy drinking Monkey Shoulder as much as I've enjoyed making it."
Reigning Class Magazine's bartender of the year, Charlotte Voisey, of London's Apt 195, said: "It's wonderful to work with a malt whisky and enjoy all the characteristics at once, but with none of the heavy smokiness or peatiness often associated with some malts - Monkey Shoulder has a lot to offer mixologists."
Monkey Shoulder is available in Apt 195, The White House, Oloroso and 30 other bars across London and Scotland.
Bottles are available from Selfridges, Peckham's, whisky specialists and (RRP £18.99 for a 70cl bottle).
Articles Courtesy of The Press & Journal

18 June

Pernod closes in on Allied as rival bidder pulls out
PERNOD Ricard all but secured its £7.6 billion takeover of Allied Domecq last night, after US rival Constellation Brands pulled out of the battle.
The City had been expecting the 670p cash-and-shares bid to be challenged by Constellation and Jack Daniels-owner Brown Forman, but yesterday the duo said they could not justify a move.
A clear run for Pernod will signal a mass overhaul of the Scottish whisky market. The French firm will add Ballantine's to its Chivas Regal and Glenlivet labels, while partner Fortune Brands will take Teachers and prized malt Laphroaig.
Analysts said Pernod's successful attempt to woo Diageo had been key, as it made it tough for Constellation to realistically win a bidding war. The UK-based industry leader had agreed not to help Constellation in return for the purchase of Irish whisky Bushmills, as well as a clutch of wines.
James Dawson of Charles Stanley said: "Pernod played a very good hand. The structure of the deal kept out the regulators and the speed at which it put together a deal forced other people's hand."
Constellation, the world's biggest wine company, is understood to have proposed a 700p-a-share all-cash bid to Allied on 13 May, but following extensive due diligence it decided to dilute its offer.
It tabled just 608p in cash instead, alongside an IPO of Allied's wine division, a move it said would value the arm at 112p-a-share or £1.9bn. But despite a combined total of 720p, Allied was sceptical about the bid - mainly due to the valuation attached to the wine brands, which it considered over generous.
It was prepared to put out a stock exchange announcement to warn shareholders that an all-cash approach was not forthcoming, but Constellation walked away before it could be issued.
Allied shares had been trading at a premium to Pernod's 670p-a-share offer in anticipation of an all-cash approach, but yesterday fell 2 per cent, or 12.5p, to 692.5p.
Pernod shares jumped nearly 3 per cent on relief that the French spirits giant would not be forced to pay more in a bidding war with Constellation, although the Allied shares remained above the offer price.
Lehman Brothers analyst Ian Shackleton said he expected the Pernod deal to go through, although it might be delayed as US regulators look at the deal's implications for the gin and whisky market there.
The takeover panel had given Constellation until 29 June to make a bid, while Allied's shareholders will vote on Pernod's offer on 4 July.
Shackleton said: "There were not the market synergies of the Pernod deal, and there were problems with the Allied pension fund, so there was just too much to make this fly."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
14 June

Glengoyne toasts its publican of the year
A CAPITAL landlord has been named Publican of the Year by a famous whisky maker.
Glengoyne announced that Ric Fox, of the Magnum, in Albany Street, is the first winner of the award after it was introduced by the whisky maker.
Mr Fox said: "It is a great honour to be named Glengoyne Publican of the Year 2005."
Peter Russell, chairman of Glengoyne, said: "We hope an award like this will drive further momentum and encourage more publicans to support the brand."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
12 June

Whisky maker William Grant stirs up management structure
WILLIAM Grant, the Glenfiddich whisky maker, has overhauled its corporate structure in an effort to grow its core drinks business.
The distiller, based in London and Bellshill, will this week reveal its revised set-up involving a new parent company, William Grant & Sons Holdings, and separate subsidiaries for the drinks business and the controlling Gordon family's other investments. The move will allow Roland van Bommel, William Grant's recently appointed chief executive, to focus on growing the drinks division, which includes the Balvenie whisky, Polstar vodka and Sailor Jerry rum brands.
Non-executive directors including former Bacardi chief executive Javier Ferran and Asprey & Garrard boss Gianluca Brozzetti will transfer to the new holding company along with Van Bommel.
Charles Gordon, the chairman of the holding company, said: "The reorganisation of the investment business will not constrain the company from growing the brands or from making acquisitions."
The Gordon family has expanded its investment portfolio over the past few years to avoid becoming too reliant on the alcoholic drinks sector.
In a statement, the company said: "Following the 2005 annual general meeting, the company supervisory board and the family agreed it would be more appropriate that the investment business be managed directly by family shareholders."
Van Bommel joined William Grant in November from Maxxium, the drinks marketing group. He took over following the unexpected departure of Patrick Thomas, the first non-family member to head the group. Van Bommel has said in the past that he would be willing to buy brands which became available following the expected takeover of Allied Domecq by Pernod or Constellation Brands.
Last week, the first major transaction of the Allied takeover battle took place when Diageo acquired the Irish whiskey brand Bushmills from Pernod. That move will reduce competition concerns which could be raised if Pernod acquired the distribution rights to Tullamore Dew whiskey which are held by Allied.
William Grant & Sons makes the world's most popular malt whisky, Glenfiddich, and fourth most popular blended whisky, Grant's. Its most recent accounts show it made a pre-tax profit of £68.7m in 2003, up by 13% on the year before, on turnover of £329m, up by 2%.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
12 June

Pakistan joins the whisky trail
A DISTILLERY in Pakistan is canvassing suggestions for a name for the Islamic country's first 18-year-old single malt whisky.
Staff at the Murree brewery and distillery in Rawalpindi insist the spirit will be "very smooth and very palatable".
Its attributes, however, will not be appreciated by the vast majority of the country's population, around 97% of whom are Muslim and forbidden by the Koran to consume alcohol. Punishments for drinking in Pakistan include whipping.
But that has not stopped the firm - whose motto is "Eat, drink and be Murree" - doing a healthy trade since 1861. "We already produce malts that are three, eight and 12 years old, and are confident that this will be something quite extraordinary," said Murree's quality manager, Fakher Mahmood. "As for a name, we have circulated a number of proposals and had several suggestions, but nothing has been decided."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
11 June

Walsh gets into the spirit of things with Diageo link-up
PAUL Walsh at Diageo has played a cool hand in putting his company in a good position to get a slice of the action from Pernod-Ricard's proposed takeover of Allied Domecq.
Walsh had previously let it be known that he was prepared to back either Pernod and Fortune Brands of the US in their bid, or a potential rival offer from a consortium involving Constellation Brands, Brown-Forman and two big US private equity players.
In return, he wanted to get some brands that would not raise regulatory eyes given Diageo's clear dominance of the global spirits industry.
Pernod essentially bought off this threat to its takeover plan by agreeing to sell Diageo its Irish whiskey brand, Bushmills, for £200 million and to hand over most of Allied's New Zealand wine business, Montana, for £320m.
The deal gives the French half a billion pounds more in their warchest if a bidding war with Constellation, the world's biggest wines company, breaks out.
More importantly, Diageo is committed not to talk to any other third parties, ruling out its potential financial backing for Constellation.
Now the ball is in the rival consortium's court, and they have to decide whether to launch a formal bid by the end of this month. Of course, Pernod could possibly have called Walsh's bluff. Constellation and its partners showed little sign of wanting Diageo's offer of firepower in return for some of the spoils of Allied.
Pernod might have rebuffed Walsh - in the nicest possible way, of course - and taken on and beaten the Constellation consortium to win its currently agreed bid with Allied and keep all the spoils for it and Fortune Brands.
But Walsh judged correctly that the overall spirits package on offer was more valuable to Pernod than even taking a chance Diageo might end up in the other camp.
He judged it was worth Pernod's while just to take Diageo out of the equation altogether. He was right.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
08 June

Drink up - it's good for you
THE traditional toast when drinking a good malt whisky is, of course, slainte (to your good health). To the uninitiated, this is just a pleasantry, but there is good scientific evidence that whisky is good for you. Earlier this year, studies were published showing that a regular (but modest) dram may guard against the risk of cancer. Whisky contains antioxidants, in the form of ellagic acid, which wage war on the unstable free radical atoms in the body that hasten cell replication. But the more cells replicated, the more chance you have of developing rogue cancer cells. Fortunately, ellagic acid is a highly-effective free radical scavenger that absorbs or eats up rogue cells. And single-malt whiskies have even more ellagic acid than red wine.
Now there is even more good news. Scientists in Japan claim to have discovered that a dram a day is also good for keeping wrinkles at bay. A three-year study has found evidence that the chemical constituents found naturally in barrels made of oak are secreted into the whisky. These react with the whisky itself to slow down the ageing process, leaving your face looking much younger. But then, we always knew that whisky was the water of life.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
07 June

Diageo can swing it for Pernod
PERNOD Ricard has dealt a potentially killer blow in the battle for drinks giant Allied Domecq, as it lured industry leader Diageo to support its £7.4 billion swoop.
The French company revealed that it had sold Diageo its Irish whiskey brand, Bushmills, for £200 million, while also agreeing to hand over most of Allied's New Zealand wines portfolio, Montana, for £320m.
In return, Diageo has pledged not to talk to any other parties concerning the takeover of Allied - namely US rival Constellation Brands, which is mulling a counter-bid.
It leaves Constellation without the potentially decisive injection of cash that could have been generated from a Diageo tie-up.
News of the deal comes less than a month after revelations in The Scotsman that Diageo had prepared a £1bn war-chest in order to muscle in on the takeover. Pernod announced in April that it had agreed a 670p-a-share deal for UK-based Allied, but Constellation soon declared that it was interested in spoiling the deal.
James Dawson, a drinks analyst at Charles Stanley, said the Pernod manoeuvre was "hugely significant" for the battle as a whole, as it severely reduced the chances of a Constellation bid.
He added: "It precludes Diageo from talking to other parties, and it means Constellation will lack strength on the funding side."
The US firm has the support of Jack Daniels' owner Brown Forman and two private equity groups, but it may need 700p-a-share in order to win the battle.
Pernod and Diageo previously worked together on the acquisition of Seagrams in 2001, the deal which catapulted the Guinness-owner to the forefront of the market. Pernod played the No.2 role in that deal, leading industry followers to note that yesterday's announcement was effectively a reverse of that deal.
Bushmills will be Diageo's first entry into the Irish whiskey market, where it will compete with Jameson - still owned by Pernod. A source indicated that the new owner could inject greater investment, boosting the Irish industry as a whole.
Meanwhile, although Pernod had talked up the acquisition of Montana, a spokesman argued that it would retain three wines in the portfolio, and boost its coffers.
Constellation still has until 29 June to make its counter-bid. Allied shares closed up 1p at 699p.
PERNOD'S deal with Diageo provides greater certainty for Scotland's whisky industry, as the French firm has played down the likelihood of major job losses. It will add big-selling Ballantine's to its portfolio - giving it 21 per cent of the market - but its UK synergies are vastly reduced by the decision to hand Allied's UK sales and distribution network to partner Fortune Brands, who will also take Teachers and single malt Laphroaig.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
06 June

Cardhu disaster forces Diageo marketing revamp
DRINKS giant Diageo is implementing a widescale restructuring of its marketing department, just months after its Cardhu Pure Malt was removed from its markets in what proved to an embarrassing blunder.
The group has made an internal announcement on the revamp of the management of its brands, which will see two directors at the heart of the affair leave their posts. Jonathan Driver, global brand director for single malts, and Richard Watling, Scotch whisky director, are viewed as key to Diageo's under-estimation of the strength of industry feeling on the Cardhu issue.
Iain Kennedy, global brand director of J&B, was another "impacted" by the restructuring, a spokeswoman said yesterday.
She declined to disclose whether the trio would leave the company or assume alternative roles, saying that the firm did not comment on individual cases. It is, however, believed that Driver will leave Diageo.
The spokeswoman claimed the move was part of Diageo's simplification of its organisational structure and had "nothing to do with Cardhu".
The changes, designed to increase marketing flexibility and speed-up decision- making, had "driven several substantial changes in the way we manage our Scotch whisky business", she said.
The whisky industry breathed a sigh of relief in March 2004, after Diageo said its Cardhu Pure Malt - introduced to replace Cardhu single malt, due to concerns it could not produce enough of that to satisfy an expanding international market - would be removed from shelves by the end of the year.
The move was seen as the company's admission that marketing the whisky as a pure malt, when it came from more than one distillery, was a mistake.
Critics claimed Diageo's decision to sell the controversial whisky in bottles almost identical to the single malt brand would confuse drinkers and damage the multi-million pound sector.
Under industry guidelines, the brand should have been marketed as a vatted malt.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
03 June

Why Diageo is right to chink glasses with either side
DIAGEO has confirmed it is interested in rowing itself into any deal to take over Allied Domecq, and says it is just as happy to help Pernod Ricard win the fight against Constellation Brands as it is to help Constellation beat Pernod. There's impartiality for you.
It makes perfect sense for Diageo boss Paul Walsh to adopt such an approach. Diageo, with its strong market dominance of the spirits industry, knows the regulator would not only block any direct bid by it for Allied, but would also stop it picking up brands from any post-takeover fallout where Diageo was already strong.
This rules out it acquiring whisky and gin brands, maybe tequila and vodka as well, where Diageo already has market leaders including Johnnie Walker, Gordon's Gin and Smirnoff vodka.
Walsh probably hopes that in return for boosting one side or the other in any developing auction, he could finesse his way to some of Allied's impressive wine stable or other spirits. In the latter category, Tia Maria might fit Walsh's agenda, while picking up Maker's Mark bourbon could be a runner.
It is clear Pernod Ricard and US partner Fortune Brands - with the one bid on the table - and Constellation Brands and its partners Brown-Forman plus a brace of venture capitalists are not biting Walsh's hand off. Unsurprisingly, they don't want to feed the market giant with a glittering prize if they don't have to.
Both rival suitors for Allied's hand are pretty well capitalised already. In particular, Constellation's VC-backers, Blackstone Group and Lion Capital, are flush with cash, as is the whole private equity sector. Money is burning a hole in these guys' pockets, and they can legitimately ask Walsh: "What are you bringing to the party?"
Similarly, it is thought that if it came to an auction that took the bidding above £7 a share - Allied closed yesterday at 695.5p - although Pernod Ricard might be somewhat constrained financially, Fortune Brands might be able to provide additional firepower.
But a piquant game of poker is being played out, nevertheless.
Pernod and Constellation may not need Diageo's "help" at this stage. But they cannot afford to see Diageo add its firepower - thought to be a billion or so pounds - to the rival.
It is in Diageo's interests to play up its "kingmaker" credentials, although it may be bluffing each of the two suitors that it is more popular with the other one than it is.
On the other hand, if Diageo is not bluffing and can cut a deal with one or t'other, the suitor left in the lurch for refusing to give up a brand or two in order to secure victory may feel it has been a very costly poor call.
Walsh's public expression of interest is not that significant. It would be strange if he had not said it on the phone to Pernod, Fortune Brands, Constellation and Brown-Forman or their advisers regularly in recent weeks.
Perhaps cats circling each other is as apt a metaphor as poker for the negotiations and brinkmanship between the parties.
The corporate felines are sniffing around whether they can have all the Allied cream, must give up some cream, or might lose all the cream.
Circling power players
"HONEY, I shrunk the utility" may be the current story at an apparently disconnected ScottishPower - out of telecoms, out of water, soon to be out of PacifiCorp in the US, possibly out of ideas.
But shareholders may still have a payday down the line because the word is that several energy rivals are running the numbers (and regulatory scenarios) over a possible bid for the Scottish company.
It is thought dominant players such as Centrica (which has branched into electricity from its old British Gas roots) and E.ON of Germany, owner of Powergen, are particularly alive to possible asset gains against regulatory trade-offs north of the Border.
Scottish & Southern Energy might try to fight its corner to protect its home turf, but the "national champion" argument that some put forward for it to take over ScottishPower feels faded and jaded.
That argument has had conspicuously little success with either the Competition Commission or the Labour government in other business sectors.
The balance of probabilities remains that if ScottishPower's next exit is from its independence the acquiror will come from outside the patch (although Centrica does already have a supply agreement with British Energy, based in Scotland).
What is difficult to deny is that, whatever the outcome, things look more fluid for ScotPow than they have for years.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
31 May

It's Whiskas meets whisky
NINE cats are competing for a job hunting mice at Scotland's oldest working distillery, it emerged yesterday.
One of the lucky felines will be picked to follow in the paw- prints of Towser, a record-breaking mouser who worked at the Glenturret Distillery in Crieff, Perthshire.
The chosen cat will have a hard act to follow; Towser, a tortoiseshell, caught almost 30,000 mice in her 24-year lifetime, earning herself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The finalists will be assessed by distillery staff and members of the Cat Protection League.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
28 May

Chivas toast re-opening of whisky distillery
CHIVAS Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of Pernod Ricard, has announced that Allt a'Bhainne distillery has re-opened for production to help meet rising worldwide demand for the company's premium malt and blended Scotch whiskies.
It will join the six working distilleries currently operated by Chivas in Speyside - Strathisla, Glenlivet, Aberlour, Glen Grant, Longmorn and Glenallachie. Chivas standard Scotch brands grew by 16 per cent in 2004.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
26 May

Gordon & MacPhail wins Commons contract
ELGIN-BASED whisky specialist Gordon & MacPhail has won a contract to supply blended whisky to the House of Commons.
The contract completes a "rare set" for the 110-year-old company, which already supplies Scotch whisky to the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the European Parliament.
Michael Urquhart, director at Gordon & MacPhail, said: "I believe winning this prestigious contract on our 110th anniversary continues to demonstrate our commitment to supply whisky drinkers throughout the world with the highest quality products allied to the best possible customer service."
He added he was sure the key decision-makers in the UK and Europe would "thoroughly enjoy" the whiskies.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
23 May

Islay toast as whisky comes full cycle
THE FIRST new distillery on Islay for 124 years will open next month, to complete an 800-year cycle that returns whisky-making to its historical roots in Scotland.
The £1 million Kilchoman farm distillery will produce Scotch from the barley to the bottle, using ingredients grown on the island that is the birthplace of the national drink.
And Rockside farm, where a new single malt will be produced, is on the very spot where it began nearly a millennium ago.
It is recorded that Agnes, daughter of Cú-maige, Baron of Ulster, arrived on Islay 800 years ago, accompanied by a physician named MacBeth, who brought with him a recipe for the "water of life". Agnes married Angus Og - young Angus - Lord of the Isles, whose summer residence overlooked Machir Bay at Kilchoman.
Angus and MacBeth pioneered production of Uisge Beatha .
The new distillery has been in the making since 2001 when Anthony Wills, the founder and managing director, came up with the concept.
With the increased international demand for limited edition bottling of single malts, Mr Wills believes that the timing is right for the ultimate, self-sufficient distillery.
Kilchoman, which is situated on the west coast of the island, will be opened on 3 June during the Islay Whisky Festival.
The new spirit will be produced in the traditional "peaty" Islay style unique to the island.
"Production will begin by the end of June," said Mr Wills, who added: "Kilchoman is the only distillery in Scotland that will be able to claim that every step of production is carried out on site from the barley to the bottle."
The barley is being grown at Rockside farm by Mr Wills's partner, Mark French. Mr Wills said: "Production will be small compared with other island distilleries and in the first year we will produce 35,000 litres of alcohol, equivalent to 80,000 bottles. That will increase threefold in eight years."
Kilchoman will offer 25 per cent of each year's production in cask to private customers. In the first year, that will amount to 60 casks.
"There has already been great interest in the scheme," added Mr Wills.
A shop, café and visitor centre, describing the story of farm distilling on Islay from its illicit beginnings to legislation, will be part of the operation.
It will chart the production of whisky from Agnes's arrival to the present. Mr French, who has been farming on Islay for 28 years, said: "We're committed to traditions that made Islay famous.
"The whisky will be hand-made, produced, bottled and bonded. Residue will feed cattle and waste will go on the land."
Mr French has already won international accolades for his production of specialist foods, such as smoked beef. He hopes to produce a version marinated in Kilchoman whisky.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
22 May

Whyte and Mackay eyes up Allied drinks cabinet
WHYTE and Mackay is interested in picking up any whisky brands that may be offloaded as a result of the bidding war for Allied Domecq.
John Vincent, strategy director for Whyte and Mackay, said last week that the company had the firepower and support of Bank of Scotland to move into the market.
Vivian Imerman, chairman and chief executive, is keeping a keen eye on developments in the Allied battle after stating last year that he wanted the company to grow the malts side of the business. It is thought that when the Allied deal is completed, some brands may be surplus to requirements.
Allied will this week send its shareholders details relating to Pernod's recommended offer of 670p per share, of which 20% is in Pernod shares, that values the group at £7.4bn.
However, there is the possibility of a rival cash bid worth about 700p a share from Constellation Brands of America in conjunction with Brown-Forman, which has just appointed a public relations firm to handle its interest.
Allied's £400m pension deficit could deter Constellation and there are doubts over whether the company can raise the finance.
But Constellation's all-cash offer might sway Allied shareholders, some of whom may not want to accept Pernod shares.
Diageo, the world's biggest spirits company, is unable to bid alone but is thought to be in talks with Bacardi about setting up a third consortium.
Paul Walsh, Diageo's chief executive, is said to have identified some of Allied's wines and Tia Maria liqueur as favoured targets. The City now believes the bidding war will push the price above 700p a share.
Vincent said the revitalised Whyte and Mackay, itself the subject of two changes of ownership since 2001, was keen to promote some of its existing brands as "luxury goods".
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
20 May

Still game after a slow start to life as distillery chiefs
WHILE a week is a long time in politics, six months can be an incredibly short time in the whisky business.
Two years ago Doug Ross and Mike Beamish were lunching in the Royal Burgess golf club in west Edinburgh when they heard they had clinched a virtually redundant distillery for £10 million.
However, it wasn't until six months ago that they finally managed to get the show on the road with their purchase, the cost of which is undisclosed.
But they've done it.
Mr Beamish, 48, who took a business degree at Edinburgh University, and Mr Ross, 42, with a similar qualification from Heriot-Watt University, will have their Tullibardine investment at Perthshire village Blackford, near Gleneagles, producing 120,000 litres of alcohol by the end of this year.
Mr Ross, like his co-director, is for keeping everything in proportion.
"While 120,000 litres sounds a lot, when taken into context it represents half a day's production at, say, the North British Distillery.
"In addition to our range of whisky expressions we are introducing our own ale - the only true whisky ale in the world produced using the distillery's own water, yeast and whisky casks."
He says that will involve a drink that is seven per cent alcohol, served in half-litre bottles, with limited production for specialist situations. And it has the backing of ale advocacy group CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), which Mr Ross says is "enthusiastic".
He says there was "a fair amount of scepticism" within the business community when he and Mr Beamish touted their takeover of the bombed-out distillery. "People wondered if we'd actually manage to get it up and running," says Mr Beamish. "Well, it has all happened.
"Some six months ago this was little more than a project, now it's a business and financially everything is working out to our satisfaction - and to the satisfaction of our bankers."
Mr Ross is equally upbeat. "Barclays are comfortable with us. We're on budget and they're still very supportive."
Edinburgh property company Kenmore bought a 55,000sq ft slice of the six-acre site the pair leased from neighbouring Highland Spring to carry out some retail development. And Baxters of Speyside took up 28,000sq ft, where soup queen Audrey Baxter is planning to launch her latest outlet on August 8.
Edinburgh mountaineering and camping specialist Graham Tiso, which snapped up 5000sq ft of the site, is already in business.
Messrs Beamish and Ross have not let the bracing Perthshire air go to their heads.
Their enterprise and industry over the winter has produced their own quality visitors centre shop, a stylish restaurant and conducted tours of the distillery, complete with a contemporary "nosing" facility.
Says Mr Ross: "We've paid particular attention to the tours, restricting them to a well-honed 20 minutes, compared with the traditional equivalent.
"Generally tours dragged for up to an hour - some still do - and visitors can absorb only so much of the technical stuff.
"With the co-operation of the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre up by the Castle we'll start running tour buses from the Esplanade. By the end of this year we'll be the most-visited distillery in Scotland, no question."
FOR all their job satisfaction this far, the two likely Lowland lads who put their lot into the born-again Tullibardine are essentially feet-on-the-ground.
"We are a niche distillery, and that's our strategy," they declare. "Ten years hence we'll still be a modest volume operator. We have a staff of 21, including ourselves. We are lean and mean and tight, marketing our brand in the UK and abroad. We are a deli on the High Street."
But something of a class act nonetheless.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
18 May

Highlands and Islands Business Awards
Blackwood Distillers, based at Lerwick in Shetland, is no stranger to awards, most recently being named Scottish exporter of the year and best new exporter at the Food from Britain export awards last December.
The firm, which is building Shetland's first whisky distillery at Catfirth, has developed a portfolio of vodka cream liqueur, dry gin and vodka products to keep it going until its first malt whisky is ready for sale.
In the last year, Blackwood has exported its products to the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Scandinavia and is showing impressive sales figures.
Caroline Whitfield, the company's chief executive, said: "From a standing start in October 2003 our products are available in over 14 countries.
Sales director Tara Benson says the company has a passionate belief in the products that it has created and the Shetland ingredients that go in them, and in its focused strategy to target and secure new markets in all parts of the world.
Blackwood employs around 18 people and has entered the award scheme's smaller business category.
Articles Courtesy of The Press & Journal

14 May

Whisky, Ireland, the Church and the bard
WHILE researching the origins of whisky I took a trip to the website of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Who better to tell me about the heritage of the national drink? What I read was surprising, nearly jumping off the screen.
"The secrets of distilling the water of life were learned first in Ireland and came to Scotland via Islay."
What? Are you to tell me that Scotch whisky was conceived in Ireland?
"Highly unlikely," says Michael Moss, from the University of Glasgow and author on the subject. "I don’t think you can claim Ireland is any more important than, say, Germany for the making of alcohol."
While the exact origins of Scotch whisky are unclear, many aspects of the golden beverage are certain if not surprising.
Could the Irish take the credit for first making Scotch whisky? It is true that the Scots (or Scotti) – some of the original settlers from Ireland – brought their Gaelic language and culture when emigrating to Scotland beginning in the fifth century. Many landed on Islay, the island that became the administrative centre for early kings. One might surmise that commerce was active there and alcohol production was one of the by-products of the island's early success, but no historian (at least none from Scotland) will claim the Irish were responsible for what is now our national drink.
The popularity of both single malt and blended whisky has soared in recent years. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, more than 953 million bottles of the spirit were shipped overseas in 2004 - a 15 per cent rise in a year. The drink is sold in more than 200 countries; France and the US are among the leading purchasers and imports are surging in China.
The ingredients of Scotch malt whisky are barley malt, water and yeast. Barley is second to oats as the nation's top-producing crop and is primarily grown in the north-east, or Speyside, the heart of whisky country. Grain whisky is a mixture of the above ingredients along with unmalted wheat and maize. Burnt peat (dead plants) adds a phenolic - or smokey - depth to the final product.
What do we know for certain about Scotland's whisky heritage? It wasn't until 1494 that there was a record of the brew being produced here. The Scottish Exchequer Rolls that year notes the provision of "eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aquavitae". The Malt Whisky Society equates eight bolls to 1,120lbs or 508kg — enough malt to make 400 bottles of today's whisky.
So Friar John and other monks were among the first to make the concoction – produced for both personal enjoyment and medicinal reasons. While wine and beer production took place in abbeys and monasteries across England, the distillation of grains only occurred in Scotland. To be sure, Scots wanted a beverage of their own - and Irn-Bru was a few hundred years away from becoming a hit.
It should come as no surprise that the increase in whisky production was soon followed by the government's desire to benefit financially. The first tax on spirits was imposed by the Scottish Parliament in 1644. After the Union between England and Scotland, London imposed the malt tax in Scotland at half the English rate. The unpopular move ensured there would be a black market for whisky and helped to explain why many of today's distilleries are in the north and west of Scotland – areas often too far for the tax man to seek out.
The Scots, even the Church, banded together to hide their whisky-making handiwork. This included placing small stills in caves and bottled goods in houses of worship. The illicit spirit is said to have even been shipped by coffin.
George Smith, of Glenlivet fame, was the first Speyside distiller to become a legitimate, tax-paying whisky maker. The decision was quite unpopular among the locals and prompted Smith to carry a firearm for protection.
Historians generally point to two key events that helped raise the profile of whisky. In 1831, Aeneas Coffey invented the patent still, which allowed for a continuous distillation process. About 50 years later an insect devastated French vineyards, causing panic in the country's wine and brandy markets. The Scots took advantage by offering a hearty spirit that was free of the plant-eating beetles.
The passing of the Spirit Act of 1860 brought about even greater production. The Usher family of Edinburgh produced grain whisky – which added about 85 per cent unmalted maize or wheat to the remaining 15 per cent barley malt – to develop the first blended whiskies for a broader audience. Therefore, blended whisky is a mixture of malt and grain whiskies. The lighter flavoured grain spirit was used to reduce the intensive flavours of the malt whiskies.
Some whisky offers a distinct appearance because it is aged in oak casks. The barrels, used once to make Spanish sherry then shipped to Scotland, help give maturing whisky a mellowing effect and darker colour. New barrels produce straw-coloured whiskies, while some distillers by law are permitted to add caramel to produce a consistent shade.
Have you ever wondered why only some whisky labels include the age of the product? The minimum age of whisky is three years. If a distillery mixes a batch that is three years old with one that has matured for 20, the age of the full production is three. That's the law, and that's why some makers don't publicise the age. The general belief is that 15 years is peak maturation time for Scotch whisky, although older whisky is just as tasty.
Whether 15 or 115, you are likely to know something about the great Scots poet Robert Burns. But did you know that while living in Ayrshire, Burns, a socialist, was an excise man chasing down illicit whisky stills for the government? As much as he enjoyed sipping a wee dram, "Rabbie" was also a keen and accurate taxman who took his job seriously.
Burns knew intimately what he was writing when he penned the poem John Barleycorn.
And they hae taen his very heart's blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
'Twill make your courage rise.
The poem is a teasingly accurate description of the whisky-making process. He paints a vivid picture of the production and of a drink that has an enormous uplifting effect on the soul.
Burns, the national bard, loved his country and its drink. And his most popular work, Auld Lang Syne, is synonymous with Scotland the world over.
Raise a glass to Burns, Scotland and whisky!
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
14 May

Diageo earmarks £1bn for Allied Domecq battle
DIAGEO, the world’s biggest spirits company, has identified a £1 billion warchest to try and row itself into the fast-developing auction for Allied Domecq, The Scotsman has learnt.
It is understood Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh is prepared to back either France’s Pernod Ricard and US partner Fortune Brands - who have made a recommended £7.4 billion takeover bid for Allied - or the rival consortium led by Constellation Brands which threw down the gauntlet yesterday.
One industry source said: "It is in Allied Domecq shareholders’ interests to get an auction going, and Diageo is prepared to give either party a leg-up over the fence in return for some assets.
"It knows it cannot hope for more than this because, being the dominant group in the sector, there are very few Allied assets that the company could get past the regulators.
"Diageo could easily afford £1bn of funding for a bid. It is less than one year’s cash flow for the group."
It is believed Walsh has identified some of Allied’s wines and Tia Maria liqueur as the prizes Diageo would seek for providing extra firepower if an expected bidding war develops.
Walsh was previously sceptical about the high premiums the likes of Philip Bowman at Allied had shelled out for wine brands in recent years, but appears to have had a change of heart. Diageo last year paid $250m for the Chalone wines company.
Last month Allied, maker of Ballantine’s whisky, Beefeater gin and Sauza tequila, said it was recommending an offer from Pernod and Fortune Brands of 545p a share in cash and 0.0158 Pernod shares making a total of 670p per share.
However, the City now believes the new consortium’s entry into the fray means the bidding will go above £7 a share. Allied’s shares closed yesterday up 1p at 692p.
Constellation is being backed by Brown-Forman, maker of Jack Daniel’s, and venture capitalist giants Blackstone and Lion’s Capital.
One source said: "There are weaknesses in Pernod’s bid, even though it is a decent price.
"For one thing, it includes French paper and British institutions don’t tend to like that because those shares tend to flow back to France once the deal is done.
"It is known there are also a lot of hedge funds holding huge chunks of Allied, and they want nothing more than for an auction to develop. It is an open secret Walsh has talked to all the main players or their advisers. The situation is fluid."
Diageo refused to comment last night. However, drinks industry executives suggest that even before Constellation’s formal move yesterday, the cash-rich venture capitalists were considered less likely to seek Diageo’s financial firepower than Pernod in any auction.
One insider at the talks said: "With the VC boys, it would not be so much a case of the money. They have already got so much money they have got to put it to work.
"It would be more a case of Diageo reducing their risk, providing some certainty for a home for some of the [Allied] assets. Diageo could provide them with a very good perspective on the spirits industry and help them achieve their ‘flip’ [quick profit].
"But if the bidding goes above £7 [a share] Pernod’s balance sheet will be stretched and will need financial help."
Diageo and Pernod have previously been major business partners, jointly paying £5.5bn to buy the Seagram drinks business.
US WINEMAKER Constellation Brands yesterday made a tentative bid approach to Allied Domecq, the world’s second-biggest wine company, throwing into doubt Allied’s recommended £7.4 billion sale to France’s Pernod.
Constellation is leading a team including US spirits maker Brown-Forman and financial firms Lion Capital and Blackstone Group.
Allied said: "The indicative proposal is highly conditional, being subject to considerable further due diligence, confirmation of financing and a number of other significant conditions."
As a result, Allied said it would continue to progress the offer made by Pernod but would also "continue to discuss the indicative proposal with the consortium and determine whether certainty can be established".
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
12 May

Pernod confident of taking out rival
French drinks giant Pernod Ricard - which with US partner Fortune Brands has bid £7.4billion for rival Allied Domecq - said yesterday it was confident of success with the offer.
Since the agreed bid was tabled last month, the world's largest winemaker Constellation Brands, of the United States, and fellow American drinks firm Brown-Forman have made another joint bid approach to Allied, although without quoting a firm price.
Diageo, the world's number one drinks group, is also a possible bidder, having appointed merchant bankers to look into its options.
But Pernod managing director Richard Burrows said yesterday its offer had been accepted by Allied's board, which put it in a very strong position. Speaking as Pernod reported a favourable start to 2005, he said: "We are offering a very significant premium and are confident the deal will be completed by the end of July."
It said first-quarter net sales had risen 7% compared with a year ago to £516million, with its 12 key brands posting volume growth of 3% and growth in value of 9%.
This included 18% progress in volumes for premium whisky Chivas Regal, and 10% increases in volumes for Martell brandy and Jameson's whiskey.
There were also strong performances from Jacob's Creek wines, up 16% in volume, and Havana Club rum, 11% ahead.
Pernod Ricard said it had enjoyed a remarkable start to the year in Asia and the rest of the world - outside Europe and the Americas - where it had seen 18.5% organic growth.
It added that China was now the most important single market for Chivas Regal, while India with Royal Stag whisky 36% ahead by volume and Thailand with 100 Pipers whisky 50% ahead also made strong contributions.
There was a contrasting situation in the US, where organic growth was -1.8% as Seagram's gin volumes slumped by 18%, but, there was good underlying growth for The Glenlivet and Jameson's.
Pernod said Europe - excluding France - saw sustained growth in sales, boosted by Jacob's Creek in the UK, with organic growth overall of 7.6%.
It said regulatory constraints relating to the Allied offer prevented it from issuing guidance on growth as usual.
Articles Courtesy of The Press & Journal

09 May

In the spirit of five a day.
Nobody is quite suggesting that we add five measures of whisky to our supposedly ideal daily intake of five portions of fruit and vegetables to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
But claims by scientists that single malt whisky can actually protect against cancer will, no doubt, be a comforting fact for connoisseurs and the whisky industry alike.
However, as someone else pointed out, you can absorb just the same amount of friendly acids by just eating the fruit and veg and not touching a drop.
Life wouldn't be as much fun, though, would it?
Articles Courtesy of The Press & Journal

07 May

'Medicinal' dram can kill cancer cells, says expert
Whisky has always been known as the water of life - but it can also be a lifesaver, with the ability to kill cancer cells.
There is now evidence that people who say their drams are purely medicinal may not be joking.
A health conference in Glasgow tomorrow will hear that Scotland's national drink has an abundance of powerful chemicals that can destroy malignant cells.
A scientific expert on whisky believes that single malts can be even more beneficial than red wine, which has attracted much publicity in recent years for its healthy properties.
Dr Jim Swan, an Edinburgh-based adviser to the whisky industry, will be extolling the virtues of a wholesome snifter at the medical science conference, entitled Focus on the Patient, tomorrow night.
In his speech, Dr Swan will tell delegates that it is time to trumpet the role whisky could play in combating disease.
"There has been much in the news about the health benefits of antioxidants in red wine," he said. "By contrast, very little has been said about malt whisky distillery science.
"However, research has shown that there are even greater health benefits to people who drink single malt whiskies. Why? Single malt whiskies have more ellagic acid than red wine.
"Ellagic acid is a highly effective free-radical scavenger that actually absorbs, or eats up, rogue cells that occur in our bodies during eating. The free radicals can break down the DNA structure of our existing cells, which then leads to the risk of the body making replacement rogue cancer cells.
"So, whether you indulge in the odd tipple, or you are a serious connoisseur, whisky can protect you from cancer and science proves it."
Dr Swan will also discuss the "science and art" of distillery processes, including the use of oak casks.
The Scotch Whisky Association gave a cautious welcome to Dr Swan's research.
A spokesman said: "There are many lab studies showing ellagic acid's protective effect against cancer.
"However, it is widely found in a range of food and drink consumed as part of the everyday diet, such as fruit, vegetables and tea, and we would not make any health claim solely in relation to whisky.
"While, consumed in moderation, alcoholic drinks may confer health benefits, alcohol misuse, by excessive consumption, can damage health."
Other speakers at the conference will discuss issues including vitamin supplements, prostate cancer screening and pregnancy and coronary heart disease.
The five-day conference, which runs until Thursday, is the 16th annual EuroMedLab congress on clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine. It is being hosted by the Association of Clinical Biochemists and will be opened by MEP Catherine Stilher.
Articles Courtesy of The Press & Journal

06 May

£100,000 of whisky stolen
THIEVES hijacked a lorry and made off with its load of whisky worth £100,000.
Two robbers forced the truck driver from his vehicle in Glasgow and into their van before dumping him 20 miles away in Balfron.
The lorry was stolen and later found north of the city but without the trailer containing the bottles of Dewars White Label whisky, worth £100,000.
Police said the 35-year-old driver was unhurt but badly shaken as a result of the incident.
Detective Sergeant Alex McArthur said: "This was a high-value robbery where the driver was driven a considerable distance by the suspects. I would urge anyone with information as to the whereabouts of the lorry or the whisky to contact me."
The robbery took place at around 7.40am on Wednesday in Helenvale Street.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
01 May

Hopes raised for Allied deal as Bacardi boss quits
THE battle for control of Allied Domecq’s portfolio of drinks brands has taken a new turn with the shock resignation of Ruben Rodriguez, the Bacardi chairman and chief executive.
Rodriguez had grown the spirits business through small bolt-on acquisitions. Some analysts believe his departure could pave the way for Bacardi to team up with industry giant Diageo to carve up Allied, which is currently the subject of a £7.4bn agreed bid from Pernod Ricard.
His resignation came as some of Bacardi's 600 family shareholders considered a counter-bid to Pernod’s offer.
Rodriguez, who was at the firm for 18 years, had favoured a strategy of bringing the rum maker to market with an initial public offering.
Bacardi is thought to have been approached by GreenHills, an American boutique investment bank, which is sounding out possible partners for Diageo, the world’s largest drinks company, should it decide to mount a counter-bid for Allied, which makes Ballantine’s whisky and Beefeater gin.
Diageo last week said it expects to issue a benchmark US-dollar global bond and it is still looking at acquisition opportunities. While Diageo has the cash to make a bid it has major competition issues which is why it is talking to a range of partners.
On Wednesday, a group led by US-based Constellation Brands made a rival approach to Allied, which did not sign an exclusivity contract with Pernod. Allied is expected to open its books to the consortium, which comprises Brown-Forman, the fifth-largest American spirits company, as well as private investment firms Lion Capital and Blackstone, this week.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
30 Apr

Drinks giants follow supermarket route to consolidation
IS ALLIED Domecq the new Safeway? The similarities are easily identified - with the case made even stronger by the likely counter-bid by Diageo.
The chief reason for the comparison is timing. Both takeover targets have become known as the last great consolidation opportunity in their sectors - the regulators simply will not allow a similar deal to take place again.
In the case of Safeway, this realisation led to every major supermarket player following Wm Morrison in with a bid. As there were no more opportunities to come, the likes of Tesco thought they may as well make the regulators work for a living - and slow up Sir Ken at the same time.
Pernod Ricard looked to have secured Allied when its £7.4 billion approach was announced last week. Now Constellation Wines and Diageo have grabbed partners to have a go at a counter-bid. And why not? The chance may never come again.
Another similarity is that - whatever happens - the losing bidders will still gain something from the winner. In the battle of the supermarkets, the Competition Commission took so long over its investigation that trading at Safeway deteriorated significantly. Morrison has since issued two profit warnings.
In the drinks saga, Constellation and Diageo have an even greater advantage. Both will be allowed access to Allied’s books, which means that even if they have to retreat they will have carefully worked out exactly where their rival’s weaknesses lie. Of course, the same goes if Pernod loses - although this will be scant consolation.
The differences lie in scale. There are brands, distilleries and bottling plants all over the world that could have one of five owners this time next year, with a string of Scottish whiskies affected. The result for Allied shareholders will be good no matter what, but as for jobs, well - there will be a few nervy nights to come.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
26 Apr

Vintner eyes Allied counter
WINE giant Constellation Brands has confirmed it is mulling a counter-bid for Allied Domecq, with Scottish whisky leader Diageo one of its potential partners.
The US firm said it was "at an early stage" of negotiations with a number of interested co-bidders - also thought to include Brown-Forman and Bacardi. Pernod Ricard secured pole position in the race with a £7.4 billion swoop last Thursday.
Allied shares closed up 1.3 per cent or 8.5p at 671.5p as the market sniffed an auction, while Diageo climbed 1.75 per cent or 7p to 422p on the possibility of its strengthening world beating position.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
23 Apr

Scotch under threat from Japan's new generation
SCOTLAND’S global dominance of the whisky industry is facing a hi-tech challenge from Japanese distillers, an expert has warned.
Drinks writer Michael Jackson believes that Scotch whisky producers cannot afford to "rest on their laurels".
He argues that the Japanese rise in whisky production echoes the challenge of New World wines to France’s traditional dominance. In 2001, a bottle of Japanese Yoichi single malt produced by Nikka beat Scottish and American rivals to win Whisky Magazine’s "best of the best" competition.
In his new book, published next week, Jackson describes how distillers in Japan are experimenting with different- sized stills, yeast and casks made from aromatic Japanese oak to enhance whisky flavour.
The distiller Suntory, which featured in the hit film Lost in Translation, is also using a bold Japanese calligraphic style on its labels in an increasing show of confidence and local identity.
Jackson believes that by 2020 Japan could command as much respect as Scotland in terms of its whisky production as it now no longer feels like, "a white jazz player".
He said:
"When a Japanese whisky won Whisky Magazine’s 2001 international tasting drawn from 100 whiskies over three years and tested by panels in Scotland, Kentucky and Japan, it caused people to sit up and take notice." He went on: "Japanese companies also now run a number of Scottish distilleries, such as Suntory which owns Bowmore and they use Scottish malts to enhance their whiskies. Japanese oak casks bring a joss-stick-like quality to it as well.
"People used to laugh at Japanese cars but they are now a by-word for reliability. And look how sushi has taken off."
Richard Gordon, managing director of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, said: "I agree with Michael Jackson but whether Japan can ever match Scotland for sheer variety is unlikely."
Jens Tholstrup, global rare whisky manager for William Grant & Sons, added: "Japan is now producing some excellent whisky which is healthy competition and not a threat."
• Whisky, The Definitive World Guide, by Michael Jackson, is published by Dorling Kindersley on Thursday.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
21 Apr

Last orders for Edrington chief Jackson
BARRIE JACKSON, the strategy director who lost out in his bid to become chief executive of whisky group Edrington, has resigned from the company to become president of International Beverages.
InterBev, formed as an export subsidiary of Thai Beverages, one of Asia’s largest spirit and beer makers, said Mr Jackson’s appointment will take effect on June 1.
Mr Jackson will leave his position at Edrington at the end of May.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
17 Apr

Pernod to show revolutionary spirit in £7.5bn Allied bid
WHETHER it is this week or next, we should see the formal tabling of a £7.5bn bid from French group Pernod Ricard and Fortune Brands, its US partner, for Allied Domecq. It will bring an end to the longest-running saga in the spirits sector but also fire the starting gun on another round of brand-swapping.
There will be some casualties - mainly jobs in sales and distribution - unfortunately an inevitable consequence of further consolidation. No one should be surprised by that. The real intrigue is over who gets what brand, as there are bound to be some which are outwith the strategic aims of the victors.
In this case we are talking about some iconic whisky labels: Teacher’s, Ballantine’s and Laphroaig - all owned by Allied - and Chivas Regal in the Pernod stable.
Pernod has long been regarded as a potential suitor for Allied in the battle to challenge Diageo, the market leader. Philip Bowman, Allied’s boss, has shifted its portfolio, notably into wines - but some wonder if he has run out of ideas.
It looks likely that Ballantine’s will go to Fortune Brands. There may be a tug-of-war over Allied’s Beefeater gin - a premium brand. Courvoisier, Allied’s cognac brand, may have to be offloaded to suit the regulators. The fast-food assets are likely to go to a private equity buyer, with Texas Pacific mentioned as the most likely buyer. It bought Diageo’s Burger King chain for $1.5bn in 2003.
There has been talk of a counter-offer emerging, but analysts believe a rival bid is unlikely. A combined bid from Bacardi-Martini and Brown-Forman has been virtually ruled out, as neither is in the financial position to issue equity because of their large borrowing commitments. In truth, the industry will be happy to see Pernod and Fortune take on the cost of bidding, leaving others to pick over the brands that the newly merged group doesn’t want or is forced to sell.
A bid in the region of 650p to 670p a share is expected, though 700p - valuing Allied at £7.75bn - would deliver a knockout blow, particularly if Bowman gets the high cash element he is seeking.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
11 Apr

Bid war hots up as rivals mull move for Allied Domecq
A BIDDING war for Allied Domecq, the world’s second largest drinks group, could break out this week as potential rivals to the likely £7 billion-plus Pernod Ricard offer have begun drawing up strategies.
Bacardi, the family-owned rum producer, is being touted as the most likely to step in, renewing its partnership with Brown-Forman, the US drinks group which owns Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort and the Pepe Lopez and Don Eduardo tequilas.
Bacardi and Brown-Forman had bid for the former drinks giant Seagram in 2001, but were narrowly beaten by joint venture set up by Diageo and Pernod and designed to break up and cherry-pick brands from the wreckage.
Matthew Jordan, an analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DKW), said: "We think it quite likely that they [Bacardi-Brown Forman] will assess Allied as an acquisition opportunity within the next few weeks. This has the potential to create a bidding war."
Analysts at DKW and Lehman Brothers believe Pernod is moving at breakneck speed to complete its bid to head off any competition, and they predict a formal offer could be on the table as early as 18-19 April.
Paris-based Pernod and Fortune Brands, the US maker of Jim Beam bourbon, have been planning the acquisition of Allied Domecq for about two years, DKW’s London research department said in a note to investors.
An acquisition of Allied Domecq would help Pernod gain greater bargaining clout with retailers and accelerate sales growth in the US, where demand for spirits and cocktails is rising faster than beer.
Pernod and Fortune may bid as much as £7.35bn or 664p a share, for Allied Domecq, said DKW. It said: "Some expect a higher bid, but Pernod has stated it wants to cover the cost of capital in the third year of any deal it does. We stick with our 620p to 670p valuation."
Lehman Brothers said Allied may command a bid price of as much as £7.75bn, or 700p a share. It estimated Allied had a market value of £5.94bn on 4 April, the day before Pernod and Fortune Brands made their announcement.
There was also speculation last night that any Allied-Pernod deal would spell job losses in Scotland’s whisky industry. Analysts, Datamonitor said: "If Pernod ends up with Allied’s Scotch brands, they are likely to look at cost savings. Those are likely to be among the sales force, in distribution and marketing, and in areas such as warehousing."
It said that although Pernod was unlikely to close any distilleries in Scotland, jobs could be cut in bottling plants in Paisley and Newbridge, near Edinburgh, and at Allied’s bottling plant at Dumbarton.
Allied maintains an office at Dumbarton for its Allied Distillers subsidiary and Pernod has its Chivas Brothers headquarters across in Paisley. It is unlikely both would survive.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
06 Apr

Allied, Pernod takeover talks
ALLIED Domecq, the world’s second-biggest drinks company, saw its shares power ahead 19 per cent yesterday after it and third-placed rival Pernod Ricard confirmed they were in takeover talks.
The shares surge added over £1 billion to Allied’s stock market value, and analysts were speculating on a possible offer price in the region of 670-680p a share, which would value Allied at £7.52bn.
Stockbrokers Panmure Gordon said there would be "significant distribution synergies" from a takeover.
However, it added that a combined bid at anything above 600p a share would be "expensive".
Both companies issued statements confirming talks after the Takeover Panel made its irritation felt over successive "leaks" to the press that Allied was in discussions with the French -based giant and US drinks group, Fortune Brands, which owns Absolut vodka and the Jim Beam bourbon brand.
"These discussions are at an early stage, and there can be no certainty that an offer will ultimately be forthcoming," Allied said in a brief statement. But drinks industry insiders were briefing yesterday that a deal was "weeks, not months" away.
Pernod has a history of co-operation with rivals. In 2001 it worked with Diageo, the world’s largest drinks group, to carve up Seagram’s stable of drink brands.
Investors have long expected an Allied and Pernod consolidation deal, which would also fill gaps in both companies’ drinks portfolios. Pernod is viewed as weak in the US and has only a limited presence in the vodka and tequila markets and the premium wine trade. It also has no champagnes. Allied has a presence in all these markets and has a burgeoning portfolio in wine and champagne.
However, their combined sales would amount to just two-thirds of those of Diageo.
Analysts have been looking for Pernod’s next move since it lost out to LVMH last year on the chance to buy Scottish whisky maker Glenmorangie.
"Pernod has a very good track record with Seagrams, so it will be very difficult to bet that they cannot make it work," said Nikolaas Faes, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas in London.
Allied shares closed up at 633p in London.
ALLIED Domecq has a burgeoning portfolio of international champagne and wine brands including Perrier Jouet and Mumm, and Clos du Bois, Montana and Bodegas y Bebidas winemakers. It also owns Beefeater Gin, Ballantines whisky, Canadian Club, Malibu coconut rum and Stolichnaya and Sauza tequila. Non-drink brands include Baskin-Robbins ice cream and Dunkin’ Donuts.
Pernod’s brands include Martell cognac, the Glenlivet, Chivas Regal, Jameson Irish whiskey and Australian winemaker Jacob’s Creek.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
28 Mar

Whisky Galore islanders revealed as far from loveable rogues
SIR COMPTON Mackenzie’s rascally islanders of Whisky Galore were in reality desperate criminals and terrorists, according to newly released official documents.
The author’s 1947 novel fictionalised the aftermath of the sinking of the SS Politician, with its precious cargo of the cratur, off the Island of Eriskay in 1941. It created an enduring myth of loveable Hebridean rogues putting one over on the humourless revenue men by "liberating" whisky bound for the United States.
This view was perpetuated by Alexander Mackendrick’s 1949 Ealing comedy which, ironically, is now being remade. However, documents released by the National Archives at Kew, depict the "charming" islanders as criminals who bribed police, intimidated officials and petrol-bombed vehicles in the night.
Not only did the islanders take 22,000 cases of whisky, they stole bank notes from a £3 million shipment bound for Jamaica and looted fittings, say the reports.
The SS Politician foundered on 5 February, 1941. For islanders, deprived of whisky by the war, it was manna from heaven. Officials caught the first raiders in three rowing boats with 42 cases. On one was an 84-year-old islander and the officials recommended his "old age pension" be cut. Raids recovered more whisky.
However, islanders claim the event has to be seen in context. Donald Manford, a Barra councillor, whose grandfather was involved, said: "The authorities wanted to destroy the cargo. That must have been extremely frustrating and incomprehensible. It’s little wonder they were angry.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
27 Mar

Wm Grant prepares for fight over tax changes
WILLIAM Grant & Sons, the Glenfiddich whisky maker, is preparing for a court battle with the Inland Revenue over tax changes which distillers say could cost them £30m.
The Revenue ruled in 2002 that companies should pay tax on depreciated stock every year, rather than when the stock is eventually sold.
The ruling is of little importance to companies which sell and replace their stock quickly. But if implemented it would impose a one-off charge estimated at between £25m and £30m on the Scotch whisky industry, which by law must keep stocks for a minimum of three years before they can be sold.
William Grant, Scotland’s biggest family-owned distiller, won a test case on the issue in March last year following an appeal to the Special Commissioners, the semi-judicial agency which rules on controversial tax issues.
But the Revenue has launched its own appeal which will be heard in the Court of Session in Edinburgh in May.
The UK tax authority changed its stance on tax on depreciation following a ruling in Hong Kong. But William Grant argues that the Hong Kong case, which was about a tax avoidance scheme, would not have arisen in the UK.
The Revenue is continuing with its case despite a government minister’s statement that the change was not intended to harm whisky producers.
Campbell Evans, director of government and consumer affairs at the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "The industry is disappointed that the Revenue has chosen to lodge an appeal despite opposition from the accounting profession, despite the conflict with UK accounting practice, despite the clear intention of ministers and despite the Revenue’s own stated objective of obtaining simple legal clarity."
If the Revenue is successful, distillers will effectively be paying tax on products which have not been sold and will not be sold for several years, adding to their upfront costs.
A Revenue spokesman said: "A lot of these things are about interpretation of the law. The Inland Revenue has its interpretation, and companies and their advisers have theirs."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
24 Mar

Scotland’s true whisky taste test throws up a few surprises
A major surprise hit the Scotch whisky industry when a grain whisky, Invergordon 1965 bottled by Duncan Taylor & Co. triumphed in the Scottish Field Whisky Merchants’ Challenge 2005 staged at the Craigellachie Hotel, Speyside – the true blind whisky tasting, independently adjudicated by Scotland’s most respected on/off trade retailers
Grain whisky has long been viewed as the poor relation to Single Malt and proves the immeasurable contribution of the maturation process to the aromas and flavours of Scotch whisky.
Grain spirit, as opposed to spirit distilled from malted barley, is a relatively bland mass-produced alcohol that imparts the minimal of influence on the end product. The vast majority of grain spirit is produced to provide the backbone for blended whiskies. Therefore the sublime characteristics that lead the panel of seven renowned whisky specialists to award the accolade of Overall Challenge Winner to a grain whisky, which was pitted head-to-head in a blind-folded environment against some of Scotland’s finest malts, can only have come through an employment of the finest casks, ideal warehouse conditions, rigorous cask husbandry and a generous dollop of TLC.
quote from Euan Shand…." Duncan Taylors devotion to the principle of providing only the finest casks to be filled at Scotlands leading Distilleries has been a key feature of the companys history since its inception in 1938 and this tradition of building an outstanding portfolio of only the finest Scotch Whiskies is being maintained to this day. The Scottish Field Awards for the Duncan Taylor Invergordon and DT Strathisla are testament to the companys ethic of unrivalled quality. The staff at Duncan Taylor are extremely proud of the awards"
The surprises didn’t end with Invergordon 1965.
The Duncan Taylor Invergordon 1965 pipped the oustanding Auchentoshan 29yo and Glenrothes 1966, joint Silver Medal winners in the OVER £50 price-band, to the 2005 top spot. OVER £50 Bronze medals were awarded to Dalwhinnie 29yo and another Duncan Taylor & Co. bottling, this time their Strathisla 36yo.
Articles Courtesy of The Scottish Field

Scottish Field
20 Mar

Allied distills demand for single malts with new appointment
ALLIED Domecq has appointed Stuart Lowthian as managing director of Allied Distillers, its Scottish division, as it gears up for an assault on the growing market for single malts.
Lowthian, a former technical operations director, replaces Paul Porter-Smith in the top job at Dumbarton. He is understood to have been given the task of pumping up the company’s malt whisky brands, which include Glendronach from Speyside, Scapa from Orkney and Laphroaig from Islay.
Allied is one of the world’s biggest whisky producers with a portfolio which includes the popular blends Ballantine’s and Teacher’s. But with the exception of the iconic Laphroaig, its malt whiskies do not have a high profile with the drinking public.
Scapa distillery, which looked in danger of closing a year ago, is to be refurbished to ensure its long-term future. Scapa whisky is less well known than its neighbour Highland Park, owned by Edrington, but malt whiskies from Scotland’s islands are becoming increasingly popular.
Allied has packaged five of its malts together for the US market as the Scotch Malts Portfolio - a move reminiscent of Diageo’s successful Classic Malts of Scotland range.
Allied’s new focus on malts comes as rivals attempt to move up the value chain. Whyte & Mackay recently overhauled its business to focus more on high value brands, while Pernod Ricard has put £10m behind a marketing campaign for its Glenlivet single malt.
Allied earned the enmity of many malt whisky fans by threatening to close the Ardbeg distillery on Islay. In the event the distillery was sold to Glenmorangie which has enjoyed steadily rising sales of the peaty malt.
Lowthian’s predecessor, Porter-Smith, oversaw a £25m investment in Dumbarton and was a key figure in the industry’s successful campaign to stop Diageo diluting its Cardhu malt whisky with other whiskies.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
18 Mar

Pernod toasts Glenlivet as profits leap
PERNOD Ricard’s whisky brands, including Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet, "clearly outperformed" the market last year, helping drive up the drinks giant’s profits almost 10 per cent, according to chief executive Patrick Ricard.
The Glenlivet, was second only to William Grant’s Glenfiddich malt in terms of world sales in 2004, with volumes rising 9 per cent to over 400,000 cases. The single malt is already the leading seller in the United States.
The group’s results for 2004, unveiled yesterday, showed that wine and spirits gross profit, grew 7.1 per cent to €42 million (£510.2m), with volume up 3 per cent. The group’s top 12 brands saw their net sales increase by 8 per cent, accounting for 75 per cent of the growth in gross profit.
But a strengthening euro drained underlying growth at the world’s third-largest spirits group and the operating profit came in below markets forecasts. Ricard said: "In 2004 net sales, excluding duties and taxes, amounted to €3,490m, reflecting a vigorous 5.8 per cent organic growth that was partially offset by a significant foreign exchange impact of €108m. Asia and the rest of world, and the Americas regions were the growth drivers of the wine and spirits business.
"Asia in particular enjoyed an excellent year, with strong progression of Chivas and Martell sales in Chinese Asia and fast growth of local brands in India and Thailand. All of the premium brands experienced growth in the US, while Chivas accounted for some 50 per cent of the sales growth in South and Central America."
Advertising spending was up substantially, particularly in Asia and the US, with advertising and promotions representing more than 20 per cent of turnover. However, Pernod’s margin in France fell in 2004, mainly due to declining sales of its aniseed aperitifs Pernod, Pastis 51 and Ricard, as French consumers moved to imported spirits brands.
Other weak markets included Ireland, still hit hard by duty increases, and Poland, which is dominated by cheap vodka. In Australia, Pernod’s Jacob’s Creek Wine brand suffered from predatory pricing by other producers of lower-quality brands, Ricard said.
"As Jacob’s Creek is a mature brand, you can’t expect 20 per cent growth but while growth slowed it was still a respectable 9 per cent with around seven million cases," he added. He declined to comment on rumours of a possible purchase of Allied Domecq.
Pernod raised its total dividend 9.2 per cent to €2.14 per share. Its shares have lagged the European food and beverage sector by 6.5 per cent and closed last night down almost 2 per cent at€109.4 on the Paris CAC.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
05 Mar

Distillery boss raised in the industry bows out
A Distillery manager who got his first taste of making whisky when he was 10 will retire this month after more than 40 years in the industry.
Edwin Dodson, 62, has managed Glen Moray Distillery, Elgin, since 1987 after joining the company in 1974.
His love for the whisky-making process began during his school days at Dufftown, when he helped his aunties and uncles who worked at the local distilleries by turning the malt.
At the age of 20, Mr Dodson joined the Convalmore and Parkmore distilleries where he worked in a variety of roles to gain knowledge and experience.
In 1974, he was employed as a brewer at Glen Moray until his promotion in 1987 to manager, taking on a role held by only three other people in the distillery's 100-year history.
Mr Dodson said: "There are only a few industries that people spend their whole lives in and I think the whisky industry is one of them.
"Although I'm looking forward to my retirement I will miss the noises and the smells. I don't think you can work with whisky for 42 years and not miss it."
During his management years, Mr Dodson said he was pleased to have played a part in the opening of a visitor centre at Glen Moray and preparing the distillery to become a member of the Malt Whisky Trail.
A highlight of his career came in 1997 when Glenmorangie plc bought the disused Ardbeg Distillery on Islay and needed an experienced manager to oversee the opening.
"I had the task of going over as I was the only man in the company that had seen a distillery with equipment that old.
"Nothing had been upgraded for 40 years and no one had seen anything like it, let alone worked with it," he said.
Despite the changes in equipment, Mr Dodson said the process has remained the same since he had his first glimpses of distilling in the 1950s.
"You can't change the process without altering the character of the whisky. New machinery and control systems have been brought in but the way whisky is made remains the same," he said.
When Glen Moray flooded in 2002, Mr Dodson said the support from other distilleries in Speyside reflected the relationship they share.
He said: "The distilleries up here depend on one another and when we flooded, the whisky community offered help in any way they could.
"Throughout my career, I have worked with some real toppers and there has been many wonderful occasions."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
03 Mar

Farmers - and whisky - threatened by maltings closure
ROBERT Kilgour Maltings in Kirkcaldy - owned by Muntons plc, one of the largest malting operations in the UK - is to close, with the loss of a doorstep market of about 45,000 tonnes of malting barley a year for farmers in Fife, Tayside and Angus.
For Muntons it means "rationalisation" with a more concentrated effort from their maltings at Bridlington, Yorkshire.
Tim Stonehouse, Muntons’ malt sales director, said: "Supplies of malt to distillery customers will continue from Bridlington, a modern cost-effective plant that was originally built in partnership with two Scottish distillers."
But Andrew Arbuckle, Liberal Democrat MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said the Kirkcaldy closure put the credibility of Scottish distillers at risk:
"The closure of yet another malting facility in Scotland raises major questions for the Scotch whisky industry. Scotch whisky should only be made with Scottish barley and most farmers support that view. It should be used by the distilling industry as a positive selling point."
He added: "The cost of barley used in making whisky is very small and a premium for Scottish barley linked to the Scotch label would provide a profitable and sustainable future for both drinks manufacturers and cereal growers."
John Kinnaird, president of NFU Scotland, said: "We have long raised concerns about the threat to the integrity of the Scotch whisky brand if Scottish barley is not used. We need guarantees that the Kirkcaldy closure will not lead to this."
Campbell Evans of the Scotch Whisky Association defended the possible use of malt from England, a flexibility that protected farmers and the industry from crop failure or quality problems. What the Scotch Whisky Act specified was that the spirit must be distilled and matured in Scotland.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
02 Mar

Distillery plans new welcome for visitors
The visitor centre at one of the north-east's most popular tourist attractions is to be transformed at a cost of £1.7million in the coming months.
Glenfiddich Distillery, which attracts around 100,000 people to Dufftown every year, unveiled the investment programme yesterday.
It will involve the creation of a new brand centre, a bar and coffee shop and an extension to the distillery tour currently offered to visitors.
The tour route is being changed to take in a traditional earth-floored warehouse and still house, one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
More than £100,000 was spent last year to create new toilet facilities at Glenfiddich, complete with granite tiling, oak panelling, fireplace and original stonework dating back to the 19th century.
A 15-minute fil, telling the story behind the making of the whisky has been produced by Ridley Scott Associates, producers of films including Gladiator and Top Gun.
Elizabeth Lafferty, PR manager for Glenfiddich, said the aim of the latest investment was to make the experience "truly exceptional" for visitors.
She said: "So far we have completed alterations to our car parking, created some of the most upmarket toilet facilities in the country and shot the distillery film.
"Over the next few months we will take another step forward through the conversion of our original bottling hall into a state-of-the-art brand centre and the addition of a bar and coffee shop."
Ms Lafferty said it was hoped the work would be completed in time for the main summer season, when the majority of visitors descend on the distillery.
She said: "We are confident the changes will give the visitor centre a real 'wow' factor.
"We are the only distillery in Scotland to have attained Hospitality Assured accreditation, so we know that in terms of customer service ours is already among the best."
Glenfiddich is one of eight Moray distilleries which, along with the Speyside Cooperage at Craigellachie, make up the world's only malt whisky trail.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
27 Feb

World's oldest malt wings its way to a collector
THE last bottle of the world’s oldest single malt whisky was heading for foreign shores today after it was put up for sale.
Workers at the family-owned Glenfiddich Distillery in Speyside have said a fond farewell to the bottle of Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937, which will now go on sale in the duty free department of Hong Kong’s Chep Lap Kok Airport. The airport is a major gateway for international travellers, and distillers are confident the 64-year-old malt - which has previously been sold at the Glenfiddich Distillery for £10,000 a bottle - will attract considerable interest from collectors.
The distillery says the whisky is the oldest single malt whisky in the world as it was left to mature in a single cask for 64 years.
Glenfiddich malt master David Stewart said today: "On the one hand, we’re extremely proud of having produced a whisky of such a fantastic quality that’s stood the test of time and on the other, there’s a tinge of sadness at saying goodbye."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
24 Feb

Brannan signs on at Whyte & Mackay
WHYTE and Mackay has announced the appointment of a new managing director, less than a month after chairman Vivian Imerman finally succeeded in taking complete control of the Scotch whisky distiller.
Former Rangers FC chief executive and current Dundee FC chairman Bob Brannan, 48, will take up the newly-created position of group managing director from 1 March.
Brannan, who will take over the day-to-day running of the distiller from Imerman, recently spent a brief period as interim managing director of William Grant, having been at the company in a variety of roles between 1994 and 1998. He has resigned his non-executive post on the board in order to join W&M.
Imerman, who will remain as both chairman and chief executive, said: "Bob is a top-tier business leader who brings an in-depth working knowledge of the international spirits industry. His previous roles, including his experience in working with a variety of private-equity backed businesses and as a management consultant, mean that he also understands how to bring about business transformation."
Imerman added that Brannan’s appointment "should be seen as a clear signal that Whyte and Mackay continues to reinvigorate and position itself for future growth".
Brannan is to take up his post at a sensitive time for the distiller. His appointment comes just three weeks after Imerman successfully bought out German bank WestLB’s 30 per cent stake in W&M, in a deal thought to be worth more than £50 million.
At the time analysts were at a loss to explain why Imerman had chosen to take full control of a company that ran up losses of £13.7m last year.
Imerman is currently part-way through a five-year restructuring plan, which only last summer led to a massive boardroom clear-out.
Included in the exodus were former chief executive Brian Megson and former directors Alan Mackie and Douglas Reid - all instrumental in the 2001 £200m management buyout from Jim Beam Brands.
Yesterday, Brannan said: "I am delighted to join Whyte and Mackay at this crucial stage of the company’s transformation. Vivian has a strong vision for Whyte and Mackay, and he has a clear strategic plan for how to achieve that vision."
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
23 Feb

McLaren stub out cigarettes
THE McLaren Formula 1 team have announced a long-term sponsorship deal with Scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker, bringing to an end their long association with tobacco.
The whisky brand’s ‘striding man’ logo will appear on the side of the McLaren engine cover for the first time at this year’s Turkish Grand Prix on 21 August.
McLaren team manager Ron Dennis welcomed the new deal, saying: "McLaren is supported by highly-valued, long-term partnerships with some of the world’s most distinguished brand names. We’re delighted to welcome Johnnie Walker to join this group."
Johnnie Walker also plan to spend £2million a year on responsible drinking programmes directed at the Grand Prix market.
The company’s marketing director Charles Allen added: "At the same time we will use the sponsorship to communicate individual choice and what we believe responsible drinking is really about."
McLaren will begin the season with the more familiar West cigarette brand on the cars of drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya, but it is thought the company plan to pull out when the European Union tobacco advertising ban is implemented in August.
This will end a long association between McLaren and tobacco company sponsors, including Marlboro, who currently back the Ferrari team.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
18 Feb

Chivas Brothers launches new malts in major Glenlivet drive
DISTILLERS Chivas Brothers will next week launch two products aimed exclusively at the travel retail market as part of a long-term strategy to establish its The Glenlivet brand as the world’s biggest selling single malt.
The new malts will be called Nàdurra - Gaelic for "natural" - and The Glenlivet 12-year-old First Fill and will go on sale initially under an exclusive deal with the UK airport retailer World Duty Free at Heathrow’s Terminal 4. The move is part of a relaunch of The Glenlivet with new packaging, brand identity and advertising as part of a phased plan to grow the single malt internationally at twice the market rate over five years.
According to Chivas, part of the Pernod Ricard group, The Glenlivet, which is second only to William Grant’s Glenfiddich malt in terms of world sales, saw sales in 2004 rise 9 per cent to over 400,000 cases. This significantly out-performed the market and drove the brand closer to its medium-term target of 500,000 cases a year. Robin Johnston, Chivas Brothers’ travel retail regional director, said choosing the travel sector for the launches was deliberate. He said: "The travel retail channel saw excellent growth for The Glenlivet in 2004 and constitutes a strategic channel for the brand as single malts represent more than twice the proportion of total scotch volume sales found in domestic markets."
The Glenlivet 12-year-old First Fill will complement the already successful 15-year-old line with both aimed mainly at the intra-European Union duty-paid travel retail market. The Nàdurra, an entirely new product, will be targeted mainly at North American and North European travellers.
The Nàdurra is a 16-year-old, non-chill filtered and matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks. Jim Cryle, The Glenlivet’s master distiller’ described it as "a smooth and fruity Speyside single malt with a finish of considerable length and complexity. It has all the elements to become an instant classic."
The new range’s packaging and identity was developed by Landor Associates as part of the relaunch campaign already running in the United States, the UK and Australia.
Next week’s travel retail launch will be followed buy further drives in Asia and will see Chivas Brothers increase its marketing spend for the brand by 50 per cent over the next two years.
The Glenlivet is already the leading malt in the US and the group is keen to develop its existing footholds in emerging new markets, including China, Brazil, India and Russia.
Latest available figures for the total value of scotch whisky exports released by The Scotch Whisky Association show it rising by £20 million to £982m in the first six months of 2004.
It said the largest export market continued to be the US, with the value of exports there rising 2 per cent overall to £142m, as a result of heightened American interest in single malts, sales of which were up 30 per cent to £40m.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
18 Feb

Diageo is still thirsty for acquisitions
DRINKS giant Diageo yesterday said it would be keen to pick up any cast-offs from an industry super-merger, and that acquisitions are still a major part of its strategy.
Referring to rumours of a tie-up between Allied Domecq and Pernod, chief executive Paul Walsh said the firm would be "an observer", but would be "interested in anything of value that fell out of the merger".
He added that it was "perfectly understandable" that industry rivals would want to get together, but argued that Diageo had been consolidating "for more than a decade". Most recently, the group has bought Greek vodka Ursus and US wine company Chalone.
Walsh was speaking as Diageo unveiled half-year operating profits up 8 per cent at £1.2 billion - although the company continued to lose ground at the bottom line following its decision to focus purely on drinks.
The owner of Smirnoff, Guinness and Gordons gin has suffered from what it called a "challenging" environment in Europe, which continued to lag the rest of the group. Like-for-like sales were up 5 per cent worldwide at £5bn, but the same measure in Europe was broadly flat at £2.25bn.
Walsh blamed the group’s struggles in its core region on shrinking populations, saying there were progressively fewer legal-age drinkers to sell to. That compares unfavourably with the US, which sees 500,000 people come of age every year.
He said: "We’re not happy with the position in Europe, but the growth in profit and volume is actually quite enviable. No-one is doing well." He hoped the climate would improve, but suggested it could not grow as fast as the group overall.
One solution he suggested was to "be alert to cost-saving and efficiency opportunities" - a move that has already seen the group focus its IT and human resources services on a 300-employee centre in Budapest.
Diageo employs 3,500 staff in Scotland - nearly a fifth of its global workforce - across 29 distilleries and three production plants. However, sources said these are unlikely to be affected by cost-cutting, as the firm is "happy with its footprint" in the country.
The company sells 97 per cent of whisky distilled in Scotland overseas. It is targeting new countries and boosted volumes of all brands by nearly 50 per cent in India and 74 per cent in China.
Walsh reiterated the company’s guidance for 6 per cent operating profit growth for the full year. He emphasised the need to "innovate" long-term brands to compensate for the decline in ready-to-drink products, more commonly known as alcopops.
James Dawson, an analyst from Charles Stanley, was upbeat following the results. He pointed to strong growth in the US, while saying the group had "the marketing muscle" to succeed in the current climate.
Diageo’s interim dividend was increased from 10.6p to 11.35p, on top of £353 million of share buy-backs in the past six months. Shares in the company were off 5p at 740p.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
09 Feb

Whisky group in Budget plea
WHISKY producers have urged the Government to use the Budget to alleviate the burden of red tape on industry competitiveness.
In a meeting with John Healey, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, representatives of the Scotch Whisky Association welcomed government moves towards a fairer alcohol tax policy. But the body urged Chancellor Gordon Brown to do even more to support the industry as it faces a range of new regulations.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
09 Feb

New whisky's worth a try
A LIMITED-EDITION whisky is being launched today to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the home of Scottish rugby.
As Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh enters its eighth decade, a special 50cl bottle has been designed by Famous Grouse, the national team sponsor. The labels on the special bottles depict an inside view of the stadium.
Some 67,800 bottles, the same number as Murrayfield’s capacity, have been produced, costing £9.99 each.
The new bottles are available from Sainsbury stores throughout the Six Nations championship or at The Famous Grouse Experience in Crieff.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
07 Feb

Distillers facing tax threat
SCOTLAND’S whisky industry could find out later this month whether it will be hit with an additional £30 million tax bill, when a controversial case with the Inland Revenue renews at the Court of Appeal in London.
The case centres upon the corporation tax treatment of the depreciation of stock. According to the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA): "Since the early 1990s it has been accepted practice, agreed by the Revenue, that depreciation taken to stock is added back to the profit before tax in the year the maturing stock is sold or used."
However, in 2002 the Revenue decided that depreciation should be added back in the year incurred, which the SWA says could result in "an increased tax charge of £25m-£30m over five to ten years".
While the case will initially be fought this month by confectionery manufacturer Mars, the whisky industry will be represented at the Court of Session by producer William Grant in May.
The latest tax battle comes only a matter of months after the government announced its controversial "strip-stamp" scheme - aimed at clamping down on fraud by forcing distillers to stick tax-paid stamps on bottles rather than paying duty when the whisky is released for sale.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
06 Feb

Warning to distillers on labelling of whiskies
SCOTLAND’s distillers will be told to tighten up their whisky labelling this year to prevent a repeat of the acrimonious battle over Diageo’s attempt to change the contents of its Cardhu brand.
The Scotch Whisky Association will send out a consultation paper this month with a list of instructions for its members, who make up 98% of the industry.
Terms such as "vatted malt", "vintage malt" and "pure malt", which are used to mean the product of more than one distillery, are now banned and will be replaced by "blended malt".
Diageo was widely criticised for changing the composition of its Cardhu malt whisky to include malts from other distilleries and calling the resulting product a "pure malt". After a six-month long battle with rivals, led by Glenfiddich producer William Grant, Diageo backed down.
The SWA’s draft guidelines pointedly say: "A distillery name should not be used on any Scotch whisky which has not been wholly distilled in the named distillery."
Most whisky companies backed the changes, although one up-and-coming producer of what will now be known as "blended malt" said the new description might confuse customers.
David Robertson, a director of Jon, Mark & Robbo’s Easy Drinking Whisky, said: "Personally, I think there is likely to be some confusion between blended whisky [a combination of malt and cheaper grain whiskies] and the new category of blended malt whisky. I think there is a risk that if the consumer knows that a blend costs £8-10 per bottle and a malt £20 per bottle, they might wonder what the blended malt is."
But the SWA said the new rules would reduce confusion in the long term. A spokesman said the current most popular term for a mixture of malts, "vatted malt", was not commonly understood. He added: "Consumers will understand that a blended malt comes from more than one source. It also fits the definition of blending within European Union legislation."
A spokeswoman for Edrington, which will have to alter the label on its Famous Grouse Vintage Malt, said the company fully supported the changes.
Other approved terms include single grain Scotch whisky, a Scotch whisky distilled at a single distillery from water and malted barley with or without whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals; and blended grain Scotch whisky, a blend of single grain Scotch whiskies which have been distilled at more than one distillery.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
04 Feb

Pernod can toast success of whiskies
SCOTTISH whisky brands Chivas Regal and Glenlivet have enjoyed massive sales growth in 2004, as global demand for whisky reached yet new heights.
Alcohol lovers around the world bought into the brands, sending volumes up 12 per cent and 9 per cent respectively. The growth of Chivas was especially strong in China, where it became the biggest imported spirit in the country.
The brand-owner - French drinks giant Pernod Ricard - celebrated the growth despite a lukewarm jump in overall 2004 sales, which were up a marginal 2.1 per cent to €£3.5 billion (£2.4bn).
The slower growth at the firm, which also owns Jamieson’s Irish whiskey and Martell brandy, was played down by the group, which blamed the weaker dollar and troubles in the Australian market. Chief executive Patrick Ricard said the group’s organic growth was up 5.8 per cent.
Pernod will not break down sales figures until its full results later in the year, but he said the Chivas growth translated to a 14 per cent leap in cash sales. The jump was partly down to a popularity surge, but was also dependent on an intense marketing campaign.
A spokesman said the brand’s performance was especially strong in the US, which had been a declining market when Chivas Brothers was acquired as part of Seagrams four years ago.
Pernod lost out in the battle for Glenmorangie last autumn, when a fierce bidding war for Scotland’s last independent distiller ended with victory for luxury goods firm LVMH - another French company.
A successful deal would have set the company back £300 million, and investors were keen to hear yesterday whether the company was eyeing up any more plays - especially with Australian wine group Southcorp on the market.
Richard Burrows, the joint managing director of Pernod, would make "no comment whatsoever" on the ongoing battle for Southcorp, which has attracted a bid from Fosters.
But he admitted that the company was keen on taking over a rival specialising in New World wines - fuelling speculation of an approach. However, analysts suggested Southcorp owned too many brands to attract Pernod’s interest.
Meanwhile, the group said it had nearly completed its disposal programme of non-core assets. In November it sold Orangina to Cadbury-Schweppes, although the brand is run by Glasgow firm AG Barr in the UK.
Some observers said Pernod lost the Glenmorangie auction because it could not guarantee the future of the company’s workforce in Broxburn. Chivas has announced plans to close down two sites in Scotland, which employ 100 staff.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
18 Jan

Training scheme is feather in cap for Famous Grouse
DISTRIBUTORS, hoteliers and barmen from Scotland’s key export markets are heading to Crieff in droves to take part in The Famous Grouse’s "Passport for Success" training scheme.
The course was originally developed for the whisky label’s 900 or so Scottish employees, but has now been adapted for overseas delegates. The latest trainees to participate in the programme at Glenturret - Scotland’s oldest working distillery - are 160 bar and store owners from the United States.
Derek Brown, brands heritage director for The Famous Grouse, which is owned by Glasgow-based Edrington Group, said: "An increasing number of foreign visitors are attending the Passport to Success course, when they can gain a real taste for Scotland’s best-selling whisky and its Perthshire origins."
The general areas covered include basic bar skills, a tour of the Scottish outdoors and the art of blending whisky.
The Famous Grouse, which boasts a 200-year heritage, is sold in more than 100 countries across the world, and in excess of 30 million bottles are produced in Scotland annually.
The brand has recently bucked the general trend in the US, where the blended sector is in decline. Other Edrington brands include Macallan, Cutty Sark and Highland Park.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
08 Jan

Scotch and wry
You don’t hear the ‘F’ word much in the whisky glens these days. The whisky industry is a serious place. The master distillers talk in corporate clichés, peppering` their conversation with words such as ‘tradition’ and ‘mystic’. There’s a lot about haggis, heather and bagpipes - and plenty of waffle about flavours. But when you’re handed a glass to sniff, no one ever mentions the ‘F’ word.
Except Jon, Mark and Robbo. They are three young guys who had an idea when walking the glens one day that whisky should be precisely about the ‘F’ word - fun. Jon and Mark drink whisky, but Robbo actually makes it.
Six months on and their idea has blossomed into a company offering easy-drinking alternatives to the major whisky players; three whiskies they think are funky, fabulous, flavoursome and fun, which appeal to them and their young friends. There is a rich, spicy one for Robbo, a smooth, sweet one for Mark and a peaty, smoky one for Jon. It’s all very nice, simple and direct.
The last time I heard of Robbo, he was called David Robertson. At the tender age of 30, he had a frightfully serious job as master distiller for Macallan, trussed up in a kilt and tuxedo, travelling the world selling the best whiskies. It is a job that many distillers would give their eye-teeth for. So what was he thinking of when he packed it in to start all over again?
I rang Robbo for a chat. I knew he didn’t own a distillery, a bottling hall or a bank, so I half-expected him and his pals to be working from a kitchen table in the back streets of Perth, or a tumbledown cottage in the glens. As it turns out, I was wrong - Robbo hasn’t quite packed it all in. The clever chap has convinced his former employer, the industry giant Edrington, to buy into his ‘fun’ idea and give him an office, admin staff and a swish BMW to boot.
"Will they let me in?" asks Robbo when I suggest meeting in a local five-star hotel. Apparently he only wears T-shirts and jeans these days. We ended up in a much trendier place, a new bar in St Andrews, where the youngish clientele are dressed just like Robbo - casual, stylish - and watch plasma screens and listen to a throbbing beat as they quaff their chardonnays.
The market is flooded with new whisky labels, so who does Robbo think will buy his? "Not students," he says quickly. "They just want to get drunk. Our whiskies aren’t just for first-time drinkers, we’re aiming at the pioneers. We’re not aiming at settlers or prospectors."
I ask him to describe a pioneer. I want to know what else a pioneer might buy - and if I’m one. "They’re people who have moved on from alcopops and tried wines," he explains. "They like active holidays, drive jeeps rather than cars. They are not status-driven, like prospectors, or stuck in their ways, like the settlers."
I have certainly ‘tried’ wines and like skiing and climbing, but I drive a beaten-up Clio, so I’m still not sure which group I belong to.
Robbo just wants people to enjoy the whiskies. "I don’t mind if they add Coca-Cola or sparkling mineral water to them, whether they drink them in the bath, at breakfast or on the beach," he says.
It might sound like a canny marketing ploy, and it is. It’s the same thing Tesco did for wines with its Monster Spicy Red range. Robbo’s whiskies may be blends of Scotch or Irish malts, but they are sold with names that say exactly what they taste like. They’ve steered clear of calling them after yet another tranquil glen.
So what happens next? Robbo reckons he can do the same for cognac, rum and tequila. It’s a clever idea, as their labels are confusing and need simplification.
Then Robbo says: "Our next whiskies will be called Orange Orgasm, Vibrant Vanilla and Citrus Sensation."
These will be funky, flavourful blends of whiskies of different origins - Scotland, America, Japan, Ireland, wherever. "We tried our new mixed origin blends on 65 hard-nosed whisky aficionados at a whisky fair. We thought we’d be drummed out of the room by the serious maltesers, but we got a standing ovation."
I think it’s a great idea. I’m always suggesting people should mix up their wines in the glass if they find themselves with a tart, austere white. Blending in a bit of ripe New World fruit should soften it and liven it up. You never know until you try.
What I’m curious to know is how Robbo’s going to get away with bottling these mixtures, avoiding labelling restrictions and not upsetting the likes of the Scotch Whisky Association.
But he doesn’t seem to care. He says he just wants to put the ‘F’ back into our whisky culture, and have some fun.
Articles Courtesy of The Scotsman
04 Jan

Drinks giant in £500,000 charity top-up
Global drinks giant Pernod Ricard has announced it is to donate almost £500,000 to help the victims of the catastrophic south-east Asia tsunami.
The Paris-based firm, which owns several of Scotland's leading whisky brands including Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet and Aberlour, will split £495,000 between various humanitarian organisations working in the area.
The company, which also owns Scotch whisky distiller Chivas Brothers, is splitting the bulk of the cash between the Red Cross, Doctors of the World and Caritas-France. Three of the group's subsidiaries in Asia, India and Sir Lanka are giving £70,000 to local humanitarian operations to assist victims in Thailand, India and Sri Lanka.
Pernod Ricard bought both Chivas Regal and Martell from Seagram three years ago.
The group announced Chivas Regal sales were up 14% last year, while Martell is ahead 10%. On its other Scotch brands Pernod Ricard has notched up a 5% increase in sales of The Glenlivet and a 4% rise for Clan Campbell.
A golf club in the north-east has raised hundreds of pounds for the tsunami disaster fund.
Garmouth & Kingston Golf Club raised £346 at its Hogmanay Party and Sair Heidies games afternoon.
Articles Courtesy of The Press & Journal

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