Chivas invests £88m in Speyside whisky expansion

Chivas Brothers, the Scotch Whisky business of Pernod Ricard, has announced an £88 million investment into major expansions at Aberlour and Miltonduff, two of its “strategic” single malt distilleries to help meet the growing global demand for Scotch.

Chivas Brothers chairman and CEO Jean-Etienne Gourgues said the company was “once again betting big on the future of Scotch.”

The investment will upgrade “sustainable distillation technologies” at the Speyside distilleries and lead to significant production capacity expansions.

The distillery expansions will grow Chivas Brothers’ total production by 14 million litres per annum.

The Aberlour distillery, which has been producing whisky since 1879, will see its production capacity double to 7.8 million litres per annum.

This additional capacity will support the accelerating global demand for Aberlour, which continues to be the best-selling single malt whisky in France and has made significant gains across Asia.

The distillery will also undergo a significant facelift with an upgraded visitor centre which will draw more whisky fans to the area and boost local tourism.

A new still house will be equipped with large windows providing visitors with views of the River Spey — the water source for the spirit.

Miltonduff’s expansion will consist of a brand new state-of-the-art sustainable distillery built next to the existing facility.

Miltonduff distillery, which will include a bio plant and evaporator, will add 10 million litres per annum to total production capacity.

Miltonduff single malt is one of the foundations of Ballantine’s blends and is a key component of other blended whiskies in the Chivas Brothers portfolio.

This increased capacity will further accelerate Ballantine’s pace of growth which in HY22 results saw global sales rise by +23%.

Chivas Brothers’ portfolio features some of the world’s most revered Scotch whisky brands including Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, Royal Salute and The Glenlivet.

The company has 1,600 employees, 14 Scotch distilleries, two bottling facilities and over 300 warehouses across its 26 sites including Orkney, Scotland and London.

“The investment is further confirmation of Chivas Brothers’ commitment to Scotland and a testament to the growing global demand for Scotch whisky which has seen exports increase across all regions, with market gains in Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Asia,” said Pernod Ricard.

“In its half year results in February, Chivas Brothers announced a net sales increase of +23%, confirming the company’s recovery to beyond pre-Covid levels.

“The distillery expansions will also serve to accelerate Chivas Brothers’ ambitious goal of reaching net zero distillation by 2026 with the installation of new bio plants and high-efficiency Mechanical Vapour Recompression (MVR) fan technology for pot still distillation across both sites.

“This mechanism enables a major energy recovery by compressing the vapor which thus rises in temperature and is then sent back to heat the wines during the distillation process.

“Last year, the company announced plans to roll out MVR technology across all viable sites in its distillery portfolio by 2026 following a groundbreaking pilot study at its Glentauchers distillery which resulted in energy reductions of 90% on a single pot still there.”

Chivas Brothers chairman and CEO Jean-Etienne Gourgues said: “Scotch has demonstrated its resilience as a category over the past few challenging years and in the process has opened new avenues for growth.

“This expansion will allow us to increase our volume to capitalise on the increased demand and interest in Scotch, but also supports our drive to reduce emissions in line with our sustainability ambitions.

“We’re once again betting big on the future of Scotch so we can bring in new consumers to the category and continue to shape a sustainable future of whisky.”

Both sites are expected to be operating at full production capacity by mid 2025.

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.