New fund boosts Chinese thirst for luxury Scotch

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has begun a trade mission to China by unveiling a £3 million fund to help the country’s whisky fans invest in rare bottlings.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the launch of a new single malt centre in Beijing

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the launch of a new single malt centre in Beijing

Set up by members of the Single Malt Club China, the fund will be used to snap up particularly valuable distillery releases, such as limited edition and single cask whiskeys.

The club, which currently has 5,000 members and works with 31 Scottish distilleries, suggested that the initiative will help increase the 60,000 bottles it imported last year by a further 20%.

As highlighted by the drinks business Power Brands survey for 2015, Scotch whisky has been hit particularly hard by the clampdown on conspicuous consumption in China.

Scotch Whisky Association figures show that direct exports to China fell by 23% to £39m last year. Meanwhile shipments to Singapore, the category’s third largest market by value and a major hub for re-exports to China, slid by 39% to £200m.

Sturgeon announced this welcome boost as she opened the SMCC’s new Whisky Experience Centre in Beijing over the weekend. The facility is open to anyone wishing to learn more about single malt whisky, featuring educational material on the production process, items from distilleries and a display of single malts currently available in China.

Describing Scotch whisky as “one of our most iconic products”, Sturgeon welcomed this fund which, she commented, “will allow Chinese whisky connoisseurs to invest in some of Scotland’s finest and rarest drams.”

She highlighted the “clear global demand” and growing international awareness of Scotch whisky, saying: “I hope this new Whisky Experience Centre will continue that trend. We value their efforts in promoting Scotland, our iconic products and our culture and look forward to working with them to continue this relationship.”

Raymond Lee, founder and chairman of the SMCC, explained the value and aims of the new centre, saying: “Single Malt Club China constantly strives to promote the love of single malts, which is the pinnacle of enjoyment in spirits. Understanding Scottish culture is an integral part of enjoying whisky, which makes single malt Scotch even more enjoyable.”

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