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Whisky News, October 2011

Scotch soars

logo According to latest figures issued by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA,) Scotch whisky exports grew strongly, defying global economic uncertainty, in the first six months of 2011, with international shipments between January and June 2011 reaching a value of £1.8 billion. This represents an increase of 22 per cent on the £1.47bn achieved during the first half of 2010. The USA remains the top export market by value for Scotch with shipments hitting £268 million, an increase of some 14 per cent. France, the second most valuable market, grew by 13 per cent to £219.5 million. Statistics reveal that emerging markets are becoming increasingly important to Scotch whisky producers, with strong growth in Asia and South America. Shipments to Central and South America rose by 49 per cent in the first half of this year, while Asian exports increased by 33 per cent to £422.5m. Taiwan is now a 'top five' market for Scotch whisky, with shipments growing to £70 million from £48 million, while shipments to Brazil rose by 56 per cent to £44.8m. Gavin Hewitt, Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, says that "Scotch whisky producers can be proud of their continuing success. Scotch whisky is a main driver for the UK and Scottish economies in building export markets. We are making a strong contribution to the Scottish Government's ambition of growing the country's exports by 50 per cent by 2017. "While traditional export markets remain important, we are making excellent headway in other regions. Consumer confidence is strong. Recent breakthroughs in trade relations will help further. A Free Trade Agreement with South Korea and better legal protection for Scotch whisky in India and Turkey give optimism for further growth. India and Turkey are now among the countries which recognise Scotch as a product that can only be made in Scotland. We will continue to fight for fairer treatment in overseas markets and to widen Scotch whisky's international appeal."

Johnnie jump up

the john walker Staying with facts and figures, according to the respected analysts International Wine & Spirit Research (IWSR) Johnnie Walker heads both the top 100 spirits brands in travel retail and the top 25 growth brands list. Travel retail sales of Johnnie Walker grew by nearly 300,000 nine-litre cases in 2010, extending its lead over second-largest travel retail brand, Absolut, and gaining more than the second-biggest growing brand, Chivas Regal. The newest Johnnie Walker variant, Double Black, made a significant contribution to the brand's strong performance last year, generating an additional 119,000 cases in 2010. Sales of The John Walker more than doubled in 2010, while volumes of Johnnie Walker Blue, Green and Gold also grew strongly. Unsurprisingly, the top 25 growth brands ranking is heavily dominated by leading multinationals. Pernod Ricard supplies seven of the top 25 growth brands, Diageo and Beam Global four each, Bacardi-Martini three, Brown-Forman two, and LVMH and William Grant one apiece. Diageo have a total of 17 brands in the Top 100 Travel Retail Spirits Brands list, closely followed by Pernod Ricard with 16.

Special Releases

bottles It is that time of year again when Diageo unveils its eagerly-awaited line-up of single malt Special Releases. This time around there are a total of eight bottlings, with five coming from closed distilleries. The entire production numbers less than 60,000 bottles. Perennial favourites Port Ellen and Brora are once again included in the release, both being 32-year-old expressions, retailing at £300. Diageo's Nick Morgan says that "We set out to include one or two really unexpected bottlings in the 2011 Special Releases collection. Very few whisky connoisseurs - possibly none at all - will ever have encountered anything like the 20-year-old glorious Port Dundas single grain whisky that we are offering this year, and since the distillery closed two years ago, it'll be a rare experience for those who get to try it now. "By contrast, the 25-year-old Knockando from first-fill ex-Sherry casks might astonish those who thought they know this malt: this bottling is rich, deep-flavoured and very complex. The Glenury Royal at 40 years old is a very venerable (and inevitably expensive) bottling, an old-style after-dinner experience; but it shows no fatigue and is packed with flavour. Lovers of the Lowland style will be charmed by the Rosebank21-year-old." For more details visit www.malts.com

Record Breaker

bottle in case During the last few years, The Dalmore single malt has become associated with ultra-limited editions of very old whiskies, retailing for extremely large sums of money. That image has been confirmed by the fact that a Dalmore bottling recently set a new record for the most expensive bottle of whisky bought from a retail outlet. The last bottle of 'The Dalmore 62,' released from the personal collection of master distiller Richard Paterson, was sold at Changi Airport in Singapore for £125,000 a few weeks ago. This breaks the previous retail record achieved by the same brand after the final bottle of 'The Dalmore 64' was sold in Harrods for £120,000 some three months ago. Richard Paterson says that "The Dalmore 62 is legendary and so many people have asked about buying the last bottle. In the space of 10 years it is has grown in value and is worth five times the original asking price, verifying the luxury credentials of The Dalmore, and confirming that whisky - our 'liquid gold' - is an investment worth making." Whyte & Mackay has also revealed that Jura is the fastest growing malt whisky in the world, with a sales increase of 38 per cent, while The Dalmore is the third fastest growing malt with a rise of 34 per cent. In travel retail Jura has grown by 48 per cent and The Dalmore by 55 per cent during the last 12 months.

Laddie 10

Laddie 10 After a decade of high profile activity, the team at Bruichladdich distillery on Islay has launched the first bottling of a 10-year-old expression distilled and matured under the regime that resurrected the distillery. One thousand bottles of The Laddie 10, carrying a commemorative "I was there!" back label sold out in three hours to enthusiastic islanders and whisky fans during a recent day of celebration at the distillery, attended by shareholders, distributors, barley farmers and international guests. Managing Director Mark Reynier notes that "It's a very proud and highly emotional moment for all of us. This is the first spirit we distilled, once we got it all going again. It's not been easy. This is the hard-won fruit of 10 years of unrelenting blood, sweat and tears by the whole team. "As progressive Hebridean distillers, we have a different way of doing things to the rest of the industry - it's why we are still here - and that includes modern packaging. We don't do flags, crests, illustrations, highland glens; nor engravings, Celtic typefaces, Gaelic scrolls, or Monarch of the Glen. We do Bruichladdich." See the revamped website at www.bruichladdich.com for further details of the new bottling, which retails for around £33.

Lexington reborn

kentucky sign Across in Bourbon country, work has started on Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company's new distillery, the first to be constructed in Lexington for almost a century. A company spokesman explains that "In the 20,000 square-foot plant we will produce a new Bourbon, scheduled to be launched this fall, and to be named Town Branch Bourbon after the stream that runs under downtown Lexington. The distillery also will produce Pearse Lyons Reserve whiskey." The distillery is close to Alltech's existing brewery, where distilling previously took place. Now, however, the operation has outgrown the site, leading to the new distillery development. Lexington was a once a major producer of Bourbon, with three distilleries located on Manchester Street a hundred years ago, including the James E. Pepper distillery, then the largest Bourbon distillery in the USA.

Rye revival

dad's hat Staying the USA, but moving north-east, Pennsylvania is one of the states that can claim to be the cradle of American whiskey-making, but its once proud distilling heritage had gradually been eroded until there were no working whiskey distilleries there at all. However, the good news for whiskey traditionalists is that Mountain Laurel Spirits, LLC has recently opened a craft distillery in Bristol, north-east of Philadelphia, utilising part of a former textile processing plant, the Grundy Mills Complex. The facility is producing spirit for Dad's Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey and White Rye, and Mountain Laurel Spirits founder, Herman Mihalich says that "I am very pleased that we will be reusing an existing historical space at the Grundy site. This historic location perfectly fits the character of our brand: hand-crafted Pennsylvania rye whiskey built on a foundation of over 200 years of tradition. "While we don't want to be constrained by the past, we have spent a lot of time learning how the great Pennsylvania distillers practiced their craft, and we will combine what we've learned with our own style. Our goal is to make the finest rye whiskey in America, enabling our patrons to enjoy the quality of a classic Pennsylvania rye."

And finally…

distillery The English whisky industry continues to grow, with St George's distillery in Norfolk being followed by the installation of the Copper House distillery at Adnam's Southwold brewery in neighbouring Suffolk, turning out gin and vodka, and with stock being laid down for ultimate release as whisky. Now Cornwall has got in on the act too, with Hicks & Healey Cornish Single Malt being produced by St Austell Brewery and Healey's Cyder Farm. This is apparently the first whisky to be made in the county for 300 years, but if you want to know what it tastes like you will have to fork out £150 for a half-litre of the seven-year-old spirit. If you buy some, do let us know what you think…
  

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