Island distillery sees profits rise, driven by demand for malts

Published: 22/04/2011

By Dominic Jeff

Isle of Arran Distillery

Isle of Arran Distillery


Arran's sole distillery is ramping up production as its owners raise a glass to a surge in profits and growing sales.

The Isle of Arran distillery, which opened in 1995, yesterday announced an operating profit of £173,028 for 2010, up 450 per cent on the year before.

Sales grew by 27 per cent to a record £2.7 million last year, fuelled by its branded Arran single malts.

Exports for the business were up 45 per cent, with France, Canada and Taiwan among the nations developing a taste for The Arran Malt.

Managing director Euan Mitchell said: "It's been our best year by some distance and a perfect way to toast our 15th anniversary.

"We see this as a starting point and we have a plan in place to really push forward."

The distillery, owned by more than 100 local investors, made losses of about £500,000 a year in its early stages, as spirit has to be at least three years old before it can be sold as whisky. Older malts fetch much higher prices and Arran has been stockpiling reserves, releasing a 14-year-old malt in August.

The first legal distillery on the island since 1836 has plans for an 18-year-old as well, and its first peated malt - Machrie Moor - sold out on advance orders alone in December.

Distilleries face the difficult task of second guessing demand for their produce more than a decade into the future.

Mitchell said that with current sales accelerating and funds available to invest, Arran had decided to increase production by 40 per cent this year, distilling 350,000 litres of alcohol.

"It's very much a long-term plan, but we won't be able to sell the whisky if we don't produce it," he said.

The company took on three more staff last year, taking its permanent employee headcount to 15. The distillery's visitor centre at Lochranza also posted record numbers, with more than 68,000 visitors.

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