The Scotch whisky producer Glenmorangie has announced a rise in sales and net profit despite a drop in whisky shipments to the UK.

The distiller posted a rise in total cased sales for the first-half to September of 2% to £23.4m (US$39.7m) while total group sales climbed by £1m to £31.6m. Pre-tax profit increased by 12% to $4.22m from £3.76m year-on-year.

Shipments to the UK fell by 13% but were offset by a leap in shipments to the US by 41%. The company attributed the drop in the UK to the timing of the shipments, and said that demand remained strong.

Glenmorangie, which manufactures Glenmorangie Highland malt, Glen Moray Speyside malt and Ardbeg Islay malt, expects further gains in the future following distribution deals with Brown-Forman in the US and Bacardi-Martini in Europe.

Company chief executive Paul Neep told the Financial Times: "In a rapidly consolidating industry our partnership with two major companies will help us build our brands in the long term. Meanwhile, margins are up, profits are up, gearing is down and the dividend is up - a nice combination."

Glenmorangie said it is now challenging for leadership in the UK market, in the single malt category.

With 10% growth of its Glenmorangie single malt whisky, the distiller is now vying for first place with Glenfiddich. Both currently hold 19% market share.