Some £88 million is to be poured into whisky distilleries in Speyside as their owners bet on the future of Scotch.
Chivas Brothers will spend the money on its Aberlour and Miltonduff distilleries, two of its strategic single malt facilities, with the company set to upgrade to sustainable distillation technologies alongside a significant boost in capacity.
Global demand for Scotch has continued to grow, and with exports increasing, the upgrades will see the firm’s total capacity climb by 14 million litres of alcohol every year.
Jean-Etienne Gourgues, chairman and chief executive of Chivas Brothers, said: “Scotch has demonstrated its resilience as a category over the past few challenging years and in the process has opened new avenues for growth.
“This expansion will allow us to increase our volume to capitalise on the increased demand and interest in Scotch, but also supports our drive to reduce emissions in line with our sustainability ambitions.
“We’re once again betting big on the future of Scotch so we can bring in new consumers to the category and continue to shape a sustainable future of whisky.”
As part of the plans, the Aberlour distillery – which has been producing whisky since 1879 – will see its production capacity double to 7.8 million litres of alcohol a year.
This additional capacity will support the accelerating global demand for the cult favourite Scotch, which continues to be the best-selling single malt whisky in France and has made significant gains across Asia.
And it will be seeing a significant refurbishment alongside an upgraded visitor centre the company hopes will draw more whisky fans to the area.
The Miltonduff’s expansion will see a new sustainable distillery built next to the existing facility.
The distillery, which will include a bio plant and evaporator, will add 10 million litres of alcohol each year to the total production capacity.
Both sites are expected to be operating at full production capacity by mid-2025.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, International Trade Secretary, said: “Scotch whisky is a UK exporting success story and this excellent news will see some of the best products made in Scotland, sold to the World – supporting jobs and economic growth and helping us to level up the country.
“It’s great to see Chivas Brothers adopt new ground-breaking energy efficient technology, helping deliver the Government’s Net Zero strategy, and maximising export opportunities through green UK innovation.”
In its half year results in February, Chivas Brothers announced a net sales increase of 23%, which saw it climb beyond sales set before the coronavirus lockdowns.
The company said the money spent on the facilities will also help it reach its goal of reaching carbon neutral distillation by 2026, with new technology allowing for energy recovery during the process.
The Pernod Ricard-owned company makes a range of Scotch whisky brands including Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet.
Scottish just transition minister Richard Lochhead said he is “delighted to see a company like Chivas Brothers investing in developing sustainable technology”.
He added: “Achieving a just transition to net-zero will only be possible if we also protect jobs and through investments like this, we can start investing in the technologies of the future to help businesses grow, create more jobs and ensure a sustainable future for us all.
“This particular investment in these two distilleries will help propel Chivas Brothers to carbon free distilling and help Scotland achieve its net-zero ambitions, as well as help deliver more international success for Speyside and Scotland’s national drink.”