Rare and Collectable Whisky auction

Edrington, the Scottish spirits group, plans to invest over £100m in a new distillery and visitor centre for its popular malt whisky, The Macallan.

The plan for a strikingly modern new complex next to the existing Macallan distillery in northeast Scotland’s Speyside distilling region underscores Edrington’s confidence that the global whisky boom will continue.

The independent Scottish group, which is controlled by the charitable Robertson Trust, sees large potential from consumers in emerging economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The new distillery, to be designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, would have larger capacity than Macallan’s current facilities, which can produce around 10m litres of alcohol a year, but have been unable to keep up with demand, said Gerry O’Donnell, Edrington spokesperson.

The existing distillery will be mothballed, giving Macallan the potential to restart it at some point if demand warrants.

Scotch producers are investing billions of pounds in new capacity at distilleries across Scotland. Around 15 new distilleries are planned, under construction or in the early stages of production, said Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association.

The value of Scottish whisky exports increased by 11 per cent to almost £2bn in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2012, SWA data shows.

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Ian Curle, Edrington chief executive, said whisky demand would continue to be driven by the twin engine of growing populations and expanding wealth in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

“There are millions of new consumers, with higher income levels, emerging. If you look at the demographics that’s going to go on for years and years and years,” Mr Curle said.

The investment in The Macallan reflects the growing importance of single malt whiskies in an industry where the vast bulk of sales are accounted for by blends. Edrington also produces The Famous Grouse, Scotland’s top selling blend.

The new complex is also intended to make The Macallan more attractive as a visitor destination. Visitor centres are an increasingly important part of whisky marketing and have become tourist destinations in their own right.

Edrington suffered a £90m loss for the year to March 2013 because of a £275m writedown of the value of its Brugal rum brand, acquired in 2008 and since battered by the troubles of key southern European markets.

But the group’s underlying performance has been strong, with pre-tax profits hitting £169m, up from £119m in the year to 2010. 

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