Scotch toasts new ‘golden age’

THE Scotch whisky industry is experiencing a second ‘golden age’, delivering a “spectacular performance” last seen in the 1970s, according to a new report.

Scotch Whisky & Scotland’s Economy – A 100 Year Blend, commissioned by the Scotch Whisky Association to mark its centenary, claims the industry is now worth more than £4 billion to Scotland’s economy and supports around 36,000 jobs in the industry and supply chain north of the border.
Productivity is said to have accelerated to £275,000 for each industry employee, with workers adding 57% more value per head than employees in the City of London.
However, unlike the Scotch industry’s first ‘golden age’ in the 1970s, which was prompted by a significant rise in export volumes, it’s rising export values that are credited with driving recent growth; the average value of each bottle exported is said to have risen 42% in the last five years despite the economic downturn.
Inward investment and the development of international markets are credited with helping the industry deliver what the report describes as a “spectacular performance last seen in the 1970s”.
The study concludes that the industry’s good fortunes look set to continue, with producers expected to invest a further £2bn in Scotland in the next few years. Projects outlined in the report include a £1bn investment by Diageo to expand around half of its malt whisky distilleries and build a new facility, Chivas Brothers’ plans to reopen the mothballed Glen Keith distillery in Banffshire and open a new bottling hall in Paisley, and new developments like the Adelphi Distillery at Glenberg in Ardnamurchan, which was granted planning permission last year.
“This new research is further evidence of the key role Scotch whisky plays in the Scottish economy,” said SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt.