Scotch whisky distiller, Morrison Bowmore, has revealed that it nearly doubled pre-tax profits in 2001 in spite of a sharp slowdown in duty free sales in the fourth quarter.

Despite registering a loss of £330,000 loss on a joint venture in Uruguay, Morrison Bowmore recorded a profit of £948,000 compared with £480,000 the year before. However, turnover fell by 17% to £34m as the company cut back on trading in bulk whisky stocks.

Morrison Bowmore CEO, Mike Keiller, said the company's flagship brand, Bowmore, showed strong growth in every global market except duty free. This sector suffered a severe slowdown after September 11 but has subsequently rallied as the business and leisure travel sectors have recovered. In its other main markets - the UK, France and the US - Bowmore saw double-digit growth, compensating for depressed duty free sales.

Morrison Bowmore, owned by the Japanese group, Suntory, also reported that its other single malt brands, Auchentoshan, Glen Garioch and McClelland's, were also making steady progress.