More than a wee dram: Diageo sinks £1bn into Scotch whisky

Thomas Quinn Jun 6, 2012

Drinks giant Diageo is pumping £1 billion into Scotch whisky, including the building of a new distillery in Speyside in the Highlands

Drinks giant Diageo is to spend £1 billion increasing the production of Scotch whisky in response to rising global demand.

The firm, which makes the Johnnie Walker, J&B and Bell’s brands, is to build a new Malt distillery in Speyside, expand its existing distilleries and increase bottling capacity. The investment entails hiring 100 new staff, with up to 750 further jobs being created in the wider economy.

Whisky is now Scotland’s largest export with sales of £4.2 billion in the past year.

Diageo has reported a 50 per cent increase in sales over the last five years, thanks in part to increased popularity of the drink in Brazil, South Korea and other emerging economies.

Diageo Chief Executive Paul Walsh said: "We expect that success to continue, particularly in the high growth markets around the world, which is why we are announcing this major investment in Scotch whisky production, committing over £1bn in the next five years, to seize that opportunity for global growth.

"This builds on the foundations we have already laid down over recent years through sustained investment in both production assets and in maturing Scotch inventories.

Recently The Big Issue reported on how whisky has even become a commodity for investors, with vintage bottles changing hands for thousands of pounds at a time.

To qualify as Scotch whisky, the product must be matured in oak casks in Scotland for a minimum of three years, but preferably five.

Scotch whisky is the subject of the current critically acclaimed film, The Angels' Share (pictured below).

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