Blog: Chris MercerBat out of Roseisle

Chris Mercer | 29 September 2010

From flying bats in hotel rooms to the new face of Scotch whisky production, the last couple of days up in Roseisle with Diageo have been an eye-opener.

My final night in Drummuir Castle turned out to be quite eventful, and it had nothing to do with the whisky - at least, I don't think it did. After this bleary-eyed, whisky-fuelled just-drinks journalist returned to his quarters in the wee hours of this morning, a frantic rustling sound could be heard coming from the direction of the wardrobe.

Birds in the roof? The Ghost of Johnnie Walker? Moments later, a black blur shot out of the half-open wardrobe door and almost slammed into the window. Several expletives later and I realised there was a bat darting about the room over my head. A bat. Somehow I managed to shepherd it into the bathroom (although, what I really mean is that it eventually flew into the bathroom and settled in a corner). My cue to close the door until morning. I'm pleased to say that the bat lives and the hotel staff have dealt with the situation.

Powerful stuff, Scotch.

The bat incident wasn't the only reportable event from my trip. Diageo's selection of Scotch at Drummuir is immense, for one thing. However, what stood out was the sheer scale of the firm's Roseisle distillery and maltings site.

No distillery shop and visitor centre here, this is the business-end of producing enough Scotch to feed all those thirsty mouths in the so-called emerging markets. While Roseisle distillery, which began operating last year but will be officially opened next month, is not the biggest in the industry - with a capacity of 10m litres of alcohol per year - it is still a powerful symbol of what the Scotch industry might have to achieve in terms of scale if the projections for consumption in Latin America, Africa and Asia are proved correct. Diageo is already talking openly about the possibility of building another one - a Roseisle II, if you will.

Already this year we have seen Pernod Ricard increase capacity at The Glenlivet by 75%, while, just this week, The Edrington Group said that it would install major storage facilities at its main site in Glasgow. Investment is flowing freely in the sector, it would seem.              

While some are no-doubt salivating about the potential for Scotch around the world, it would only be right to briefly highlight ongoing efforts to make the industry more environmentally-sustainable.

Diageo has commissioned and overseen the construction of facilities for water retention and biogas (heat) production that are expected to significantly reduce the Roseisle site's outside energy needs. A 2.5km pipeline sends surplus heat from Roseisle to Diageo's other maltings plant, in Burghead.

This is the sort of integrated model that we are likely to see more of as the industry seeks to improve its green credentials.


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