Speyside Distillers toasting their Board of Trade Award with a wee dram (back left to right) chairman John McDonagh Snr, managing director Patricia Dillion, CEO John Harvey McDonagh and (front) artist in residence Joanna McDonagh.
Speyside Distillers receives Department for International Trade Board of Trade Award in recognition of export success
Spirit producer Speyside Distillers has been recognised by the Department for International Trade for its rapid growth in international markets.
The firm, which operates Speyside Distillery in the Scottish Highlands, has received a UK Board of Trade Award following a record year for exports.
The firm, which employs 13 people at its Glasgow headquarters and distillery in Kingussie, saw its turnover from exports increase by 13% last year, with overseas sales making up 95% of its £3.2m turnover.
The UK Board of Trade champions exports, inward investment and outward direct investment that delivers economic growth and prosperity across the whole of the country. The award was presented to the firm by The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP at the Board of Trade meeting in Stirling Castle last night (17 May 2018).
Speyside Distillers produces the SPEY and Beinn Dubh single malt Scotch whisky brands, and last year also launched a new gin range, Byron’s Gin, partnering with The Botanical Society of Great Britain and Ireland. It focuses on the luxury market and in addition to its core brands, specialises in exclusive limited-edition bottlings.
The company has gone from strength to strength since being bought by Harvey’s of Edinburgh in 2012. The firm already had a solid foothold in the Far East whisky market, and over the past six years has focused on growing its presence in other international territories.
Speyside Distillers chief executive officer John Harvey McDonagh says, “We are honoured to be recognised by the DIT Board of Trade for our export achievements. We may be small in terms of the size of our operation, but we pack a punch in international markets.
“We saw phenomenal growth overseas in 2017, with both SPEY and Beinn Dubh adding eight new markets in just 12 months. SPEY is now available in 34 countries, with the most successful currently being Taiwan where, despite a crowded marketplace for Scotch whisky, it is one of the best-selling malts.
“Historically, around 90% of SPEY sales have come from Taiwan, but with sales increasing in Europe, USA, UAE and the Baltics, this region now accounts for 70% of our export market. We anticipate a further reduction in this figure as sales continue to grow worldwide.”
Speyside Distillers managing director Patricia Dillon says the scale of production at Speyside Distillery, which lies at the foot of the Cairngorm mountain range, has meant that the firm has had to take an innovative approach in supplying the market at home and abroad.
“We will never have the scale of production that the major international drinks producers have, but this is one of our unique selling points and we don’t want that to change. We produce just 13,200 litres of alcohol per week, which allows us to focus on exclusivity,” she explains.
“We are renowned for creating an exceptional product which, although available worldwide, is sold by strict allocation, creating a high level of demand. It is synonymous with luxury and quality – drinkers the world over recognise it as a dram which has been made using traditional time-honoured techniques by craftsmen with decades of experience in the industry.
“The fact that we are one of the last remaining independent distillers also means that we have a great deal of flexibility with our product, with capability to focus on exclusive bottlings, including many rare expressions from our archives, that are produced in extremely limited quantities.
“Whisky drinkers around the world appreciate that we are a hidden gem. They are not going to be able to walk into their local supermarket or off-licence chain and pick up a bottle of SPEY – it’s something that they have to seek out and that kind of exclusivity has been a key platform of our export success.”
Award recipients are selected by civil servants within the DIT and aim to recognise UK companies of all sizes that have made an outstanding contribution to international trade.