Scotch whisky distiller Bruichladdich has reported a 15% rise in sales for 2008, ahead of the firm's expectations.

Net sales for the year to the end of December rose to GBP7.89m (US$11.7m), compared to GBP6.86m for the previous year, the company announced this week.

Pre-tax profits rose by 42% to GBP1.07m, up from GBP750,000 in 2007.

"Despite the environment, we are forecasting continued growth" said CEO Mark Reynier, the former London wine merchant who resurrected Islay-based Bruichladdich eight years ago.

He said that the group's 2008 performance was "slightly ahead" of expectations.

The privately-owned distiller reported that operating profits, or EBIT, rose by 24% to GBP1.8m in 2008, from GBP1.45m in 2007.

Reynier added that Bruichladdich's success comes amid analyst forecasts of a fall in single malt Scotch whisky sales in 2008.