Hunter Laing & Co started trading this week

Hunter Laing & Co started trading this week

A Scotch industry veteran has warned of the “ongoing battle” to source whisky stocks as big companies snap up capacities to satisfy growth.

Stewart Laing, who has formed a new whisky business after demerging from the company started by his father in 1948, said that, despite distilleries working hard to increase output, supply is not meeting demand. “I think there's probably some people missing out at the moment, and not getting as much as they like,” Laing told just-drinks yesterday (1 May).

Glasgow-based Hunter Laing & Co began trading this week, retaining half of the assets of Douglas Laing & Co following its division between Laing and his brother, Fred. The brothers had owned the company since their father died in 1984 but split to join forces with their own children.

Hunter Laing retained brands including Old Malt Cask, Old & Rare, Douglas Blend, John Player Special and Sovereign, plus a bottling plant in East Kilbride. It sources whisky stocks from third-party distilleries, which Laing admits could put its supplies under pressure if larger companies continue to buy up Scotch makers for their capacities.

“We're aware of the fact that it's not open season - we've always got to be nimble, but we are comfortable with our situation,” he said.

Last month, South African spirits maker Distell purchased Burn Stewart Distillers for about US$244m and in February Loch Lomond Distillers was reportedly targeted by a private equity group.

Laing said that his years in the industry have given him strong access to stocks. “I'm always worried (about stocks), but our relationships are strong and our stock is strong, so we are very confident about the future,” he said.