Diageo and Pernod Ricard have teamed up with other Scotch whisky makers to start twice-weekly shipments from Speyside by train.

The trial, which runs from this week until mid-November, will reduce road congestion and test alternative transport options for whisky as the industry expands, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said today (13 September). Trains will run from Elgin to Grangemouth in central Scotland and an independent analyst will study the trial to see if longer-term train transportation is feasible.

“Any increase in whisky production requires a proportional increase in the transport required, with additional pressure on roads and carbon emissions," said John Semple, the chair of the Government's Highlands & Islands Transport Partnership, which is part-funding the project. "The project partners and the whisky industry are keen to find ways to offset or reduce these impacts, and rail provides a potentially viable option for longer-distance movements.”

Several producers are working on the trial, including Diageo, Pernod Ricard's Chivas Brothers, John Dewar & Sons, Whyte & Mackay and Glen Turner, the SWA said. The area covered by the trial is home to 77 distilleries, which produce 85% of Scotch malt whisky.

Scotch is experiencing a surge in sales, with exports in the first half of the year up by 11%, the SWA announced this month. Exports to the US were up by about a third.

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