United Spirits may expand Whyte & Mackay distilleries

United Spirits may expand Whyte & Mackay distilleries

United Spirits is considering expanding two of the Scotch whisky distilleries owned by its Whyte & Mackay subsidiary.

A spokesperson for the unit confirmed the possible move when contacted by just-drinks today (2 February). It is unclear which Scotland-based distilleries have been earmarked for expansion, but there is speculation that Invergordon may be one.

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"We have created proposals for expansion of two of our existing distilleries, but [they are] proposals only at this stage," the spokesperson said. He declined to comment further.

The proposals come amid growing demand for Scotch whisky worldwide. Exports are poised to report a sixth consecutive record year for 2011, after rising by 23% to GBP3bn (US$4.75bn) in the nine months to the end of September. 

Meanwhile, the European Union has made wine and spirits tariffs a priority in bilateral trade talks with India, which means Scotch distillers may get greater access to what is both the home market of Whyte & Mackay's parent firm, and an important emerging market for Scotch in general.

Last month, Vijay Mallya-controlled United Spirits secured shareholder backing to raise US$225m via a bond issue. The company has stressed that funds raised will be used for business development and not to help prop up the ailing Kingfisher Airlines, which also forms part of Mallya's UB group.