We live in a time of change and uncertainty so many will be looking at the world in a negative way. From political unrest or economical uncertainty, the future may not appear so sunny, but if you look carefully there are some indicators that point to a brighter future. Our whisky industry is a beacon of hope, and as a passionate fan, I see a positive future ahead.
Now, I know there are some horror stories to be found, so let’s get some of the negative points out of the way. We have all seen the headlines about fake whisky being produced and sold. Whether it is on a large scale, as in the case exposed by the director of Whisky.Auction, Isabel Graham-Yooll, or in the bottle of Laphroaig 1903 estimated to be worth £100,000 and found to be fake by Rare Whisky 101.
Unfortunately, we all need to be vigilant in managing our industry's reputation, as this unsavoury side of society is taking advantage of the huge growth in sales of premium expressions over the past few years.
Thankfully, we have enough people who want to see the industry thrive and are successfully driving a creative approach. Whether you are a novice just starting on your whisky journey or a connoisseur with years of experience, we must be excited and support a new wave of innovation in some unique and creative ventures. What may come as a surprise, is that growth isn’t just in the production of whisky.
Since 2012/13 there has been 14 distilleries come online with around another 20 in various stages of planning and development and due to come online in the next 2 to 3 years. These come in all shapes and sizes from the little craft distilleries like Dornoch Distillery, setup by brothers Simon and Phil Thompson, with the help of a crowdfunding campaign, aimed at producing a very traditional style malt spirit. We also have the first new distillery in 180 years planned for the borders region of Scotland.
This growth is just in Scotland and doesn’t include new distilleries being built in the U.S or Europe, such as the $27 million distillery built by Angel’s Envy in Louisville. Aimed at fetching all their operations under one roof in the 90,000 square foot distillery. We also have Myken Distillery opening on the small island in the Arctic Circle.
So, the boom in whisky production is a global one and most definitely a positive one.
Back in the UK, we have seen a boost in whisky tourism that has had positive impact on tourism and hospitality businesses. Now as prominent as the development of new distilleries, the visitor centres have a lasting impression on the casual visitor and has the possibility to create life long fans from the that opportunity to join distillery tours and tastings.
The bespoke whisky tour is another growth area, with company’s like Kask Whisky, Whisky Tours Scotland, Go Scotland Tours and Little's to name just a few of the companies that offer this service, from package deals to the individual planned bespoke tour.
The Malt Whisky Trail continues to boost the interest in whisky tourism alongside festivals like the Spirit of Speyside Festival or the Feis Ile the Islay Festival of Music and Malt. These well established events are being joined by a range of new and varied whisky festivals, like the National Whisky Festival held in Glasgow this past January and now scheduled for Edinburgh in July.
We also have The West Coast Whisky Feis, and the Falkirk Whisky Festival being held in July and August. All of these events are crucial to introducing new and experienced people to old and new distilleries from around the globe.
On a more pretty side you have the Angel’s Share glass company, in business since 2013, manufacturing handmade glass whisky gifts, from the unique, with a dram of whisky inside, to the beautiful crafted water droppers. This is a side of the whisky industry that even non drinkers can enjoy, and one of many new companies helping to promote the industry.
The whisky industry is in a positive position in an uncertain world right now, and I’m confident our talented and passionate people will ensure it has a bright future for years to come.
Note: Images Copyright of Spirit of Speyside, Angels Envy and Dornoch Distillery.
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