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Speyburn Distillery doubles capacity

Speyburn, the single-malt Speyside whisky producer located at Rothes, last week celebrated completion of a two-year, £5 million renovation project that has more than doubled its production.

Speyburn Distillery

Completion of the project has meant the distillery’s production has risen from 1.8 million litres annually to more than four million litres, making it the largest whisky producer within the Inver House portfolio.

“We now have a distillery that will support our growth plans for Speyburn and for our environmental objectives, and we are proud of that achievement,” Martin Leonard, operations director for Inver House, told employees and guests during the celebratory tour, tasting and dinner at the facility.

Demand for the Speyburn core brands – a 10-year-old and two no-age statement expressions, Bradan Orach and limited-edition, US-exclusive Arranta Casks– experienced significant growth in 2015, with volumes rising 49.5% and value by 28%.

During the renovation, 15 stainless steel washbacks were added, although four of the original Douglas fir washbacks were retained, and a third still was added to give the facility one large wash and two spirits stills.

An eco-friendly Thermol vapour recovery system for steam regeneration provides a 20 per cent efficiency improvement. Distillery co-products are transferred to the nearby CORDe facility in Rothes for electrical power generation.

Local Rothes fabricator Forsyths Ltd. led the reconstruction effort, which was overseen by Speyburn distillery manager Bobby Anderson.

Because the original facility was located in 1897 in a very narrow valley, Speyburn has retained a small ecological footprint during its 119-year existence, expanding upward rather than outward as it grew, unlike most other sprawling Speyside facilities. This layout encouraged such innovation during its early years by founder JohnHopkins as multi-storey drying floors and later the installation the first drum maltings in the industry. Like most whiskey producers, Speyburn no longer does its own maltings.

“The Scotch whisky industry has enjoyed some excellent years, although more recent times have been more difficult,” said Graham Stevenson, managing director of Inver House, at the ceremonies.

“This demonstrates the cyclical nature of the industry and it is encouraging to note the figures reported last week by the SWA [Scotch Whisky Association] which indicate that the drop in sales is declining and the tide may well have turned. This important expansion project sets Speyburn up for a very exciting future and it will play a crucial part in the development of our business.”

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