Major whisky distillers Diageo announced on the 6th of June 2012 that their scotch whisky brands are to get a huge shot in the arm with the investment of £1bn over the next few years. This reflects the great optimism that currently surrounds the scotch whisky industry in general.
This optimism is not due to what is happening in the home markets right now, which are actually rather flat , but rather in the overseas sales that continue to rise in a very promising way. The traditional market in the US is still good and increasing but it is in the far East and particularly China that there has been a huge increase recently, along with growing economies in Latin America.
A bit closer to home has also seen big increases with people in France now drinking more whisky in a month than they do in a year! This harks back to the early years of the rise in popularity of Scotch Whisky in the 19th century when the brandy industry was almost wiped out by the Phylloxera virus of grape vines. Enterprising distillers such as Dewars and Johnnie Walker were quick to jump in and fill the gap.
The Scotch Whisky industry has always been up and down however with distilleries opening and closing and then reopening again. Many never restarted but their stock was still in barrels and now and again will reappear in special bottlings.
The length of time from distillation to bottling and sale has always been a big factor. Whisky can legally be sold as such after just 3 years but for for premium scotch whisky brands and especially for the single malts the waiting time can be much longer. Most are over 8 years in barrel and some of course for much longer still. Lagavulin, for example, is 16 years for their standard single malt.
Diageo are one of the world's largest producers of Scotch whisky and own some very famous names, such as Johnnie Walker and Talisker Malt Whisky (from the Isle of Skye). They did recently shut down Johnnie Walker's Kilmarnock bottling plant to some criticism, but overall they seem very committed to the promotion of their Scotch Whisky brands as a quality product, and that can only be good for the industry as a whole.
Their craft distilleries tend to have visitor centres and run tours, which reflects the image that they are trying to achieve.
The new investment will result in a huge increase in distilling capacity, that will outstrip even that of their own Roseisle plant on Speyside and is expected to produce several hundred new jobs in the industry and the construction industry also. A big boost to the Scottish economy is forecast also.
The new film by Ken Loach, The Angels' Share, is expected to raise the profile of Scotch whisky even further, and despite the strong scottish accents it has already won the Jury's award at the Cannes Film festival.
Here in the UK it is relatively easy to find reasonably priced single malt brands in the supermarkets, however if you want to find something a bit more exclusive such as the limited edition Laphraoig 18 year Diamond Jubilee bottling then you will have to look a bit harder. The increasing popularity of some of the more expensive offerings of scotch whisky brands has led to a huge increase in online sales also, and UK companies such as the Whisky Exchange and Masters of Malt are leading the way in this too.
What more can I add but make mine a double! Slainte!
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