What the Re-Opening Distilleries and New Ones Opening Means?
30-10-2017 By Nokulunga Msibi

News of new distilleries opening and renovations of old distilleries have excited and engulfed the whisky world in recent years, particularly this year.

The re-opening of Port Ellen and Brora by Diageo set tongues wagging and all round excitement. Renovations for a £100 million distillery at Macallan, £11 million for a face-lift of Bunnahabhain distillery are just some of the renovations. New distilleries underway include a second distillery by Isle of Arran Distilleries at Lagg and a new distillery set at the spiritual home of Whisky. The wave of new distilleries and renovations of old ones is welcomed news to us and we ponder on what it all means?

Increased Demand for Single Malt Scotch

Demand for single malt Scotch has skyrocketed in recent years. Diageo mentioned this as one of its reasons for investing £35 million in re-opening Brora and Port Ellen distilleries. Scottish exports of single malts have increased from 47 million bottles in 2002 to 114 million in 2016, according to the Scotch Whisky Association. The value of the exports topped £1 billion for the first time in 2016. The Glenfiddich distillery's expansion project will see its already staggering 13 million litres of pure alcohol doubled to meet this demand. Glenfiddich is already the largest selling single malt whisky in the world.

Shortage of Maturing Stocks

Warehouses are also running short of maturing stocks. One of the attractive features of single malt whisky or whisky is the romanticised age stated whisky. Knowing the youngest whisky of a barrel, is an integral aspect of whisky. The increase in single malt sales, has also meant that maturing stocks at warehoused are put under strain. Signaling the rise of NAS (non age statement) whiskies. Whisky giant Pernod Ricard recently announced after slowly pulling the popular Glenlivet 12 Year Old from may markets, that they would be re-releasing it in 3 years. Stocks for their popular whisky reached a ceiling a couple of years ago. This Speyside single malt has been replaced by the NAS Founder's Reserve.

A Focus on Whisky Tourism

Most of these distilleries are also putting focus on visitor centres. Whisky tourism is big business. Visitors spent and average £25 per head at distilleries, bringing up their total spend to £50 million in 2015. Visits to distilleries also means business to the community around these distilleries such as guest houses, pubs, and restaurants.The Scotch Whisky Association says whisky tourism has increased by 8% in 2016 with 1.7 million visitors to distilleries from 2015. This makes distillery visits one of the biggest tourist attractions in Scotland alongside St Paul's Cathedral and Edinburgh Castle.

With all these upgrades, renovations and new distilleries under way, the future of Scotch and single malt whisky is a bright one. We reckon our children, though will not enjoy the "original" Port Ellen or Brora, unless bought on auction, will continue to enjoy single malt Scotch.