Distill Ventures backed by Diageo has announced a major investment in Danish whisky distillery Stauning.
"It's a dream come true," says Alex Højrup Munch, co-founder of Stauning Whisky, after the announcement today that they have secured an investment of over DKK100m (£10 million) in the Danish distillery.
The investment is coming from Distill Ventures, an accelerator for spirits brands backed and funded by Diageo, the world's leading premium drinks business, and sees the maker of whiskies such as Talisker, Lagavulin, Oban and Caol Ila become a minority shareholder in Stauning Whisky, with the nine founders retaining control of the business and continuing to run it as an independent Danish distillery.
"I have to pinch myself! It is only ten years ago that we started doing the first experiments with quality Danish whisky at Stauning. And now we suddenly get the opportunity to tell our story worldwide and let more people taste our unique whisky. We are obviously incredibly proud of the confidence that this investment shows in us and our whisky," says Alex Højrup Munch.
"We are proud to announce that after looking at many new distilleries around the world, Distill Ventures was impressed with our whisky, brand and story. Actually so impressed that they have made an investment in Stauning Whisky. We, the founders, are still the main shareholders, so we are still very much in charge of Stauning Whisky and can keep our focus on making handmade Danish whisky of the highest possible quality. We are just going to make more of it, and the investment will allow us to expand our production significantly. We will keep every process in-house using the same local Danish ingredients," says Munch.
Year one done and maturing well
England's largest whisky distillery raises a glass as the country's newest single malt whisky reaches a major milestone in its maturation and is already surpassing the distiller's high expectations. They have had 70,000 visitors and produced 80,000 litres of whisky.
The Lakes Distillery started production of its Lakes Single Malt in December 2014, the same month it officially opened its doors to visitors. The spirit, which will officially become whisky after three years maturing in oak casks, will be ready for drinking from spring 2018. Early feedback from the distillery's team, which includes some of the UK's most foremost whisky experts such as Dr Alan Rutherford and Chris Anderson, is The Lakes Single Malt is on track to be one of the finest. "After only one year maturing, already it is smooth and sweet and very drinkable," says Distillery Manager John Drake. 'It is quite outstanding.'
Founder and managing director of The Lakes Distillery, Paul Currie, who founded and ran the award-winning Isle of Arran Distillers before opening England's largest distillery, said, "This has been a phenomenal year for the business - the reaction from the drinks industry, the public and the local businesses in the North West has been fantastic.
"We feel honoured to have been awarded a string of accolades from different industry bodies in our first year. Our spirits have picked up awards at the IWSC and International Spirits Challenge (ISC), while the Bistro at The Distillery has been listed in Hardens and the Michelin Good Food Guide 2016 and picked up Open Table Diner's Choice Awards several months in a row."
In just 12 months, The Lakes Distillery has also become one of Cumbria's leading tourist attractions welcoming more than 70,000 visitors through its doors. Meanwhile the acclaimed Bistro at The Lakes Distillery has built up a tremendous reputation being popular with tourists and locals, thanks to head chef Andrew Beaton, with renowned chef Terry Laybourne overseeing the bistro. The Lakes Distillery has also been named as a 'Top 50 Cumbrian Icon' in only its first year.
Paul continued, "We are situated in one of the most stunning places in the world. Our aim is to ensure The Lakes Malt is recognised as one of the finest malt whiskies in the world, making us a challenger to Scotland."
Munch added, "We cannot wait to get started on building our new distillery which will stay true to how we make whisky today: using local barley and rye, doing all our own malting in house, using small stills and direct heat. Imagine the still house with more then 20 small potstills. It is going to be beautiful. We don't know of another distillery of this size which does all of its own malting in house - doing it at a bigger scale has involved much planning and many experiments, until we were satisfied we can make exactly the same whisky as we do today."
The plan is to expand the distillery to a capacity of about 50 times the production of today. This will make it a similar size to the Scottish distillery of Oban. The construction is due to begin in summer 2016 and the first distilling will take place in 2018. In the meantime, distilling will be done in its current buildings.
Minimum Unit Pricing ruling at EU court
Recently there has been a ruling in the European Court about Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP). To give some background, The Scotch Whisky Association is opposed to MUP because:
• MUP will not tackle alcohol misuse effectively. Research for the Scottish Government shows it will not reduce the number of people drinking at hazardous and harmful levels.
• The Scottish Government's own data demonstrates that alcohol sales have been falling in Scotland since 2009.
• Minimum pricing was first ruled illegal as a barrier to trade by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) more than 30 years ago. The Court has consistently ruled against minimum pricing since.
• MUP will set a precedent for equally ineffective and illegal measures by other countries which could severely damage the Scotch Whisky industry's export markets and the Scottish economy.
The ruling was made in December 2015 and the Scotch Whisky Association's (SWA) response came from David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive who said:
"We welcome the European Court's ruling. The SWA always said European Union law issues were central to this case, and so it has proved. This settles EU law issues once and for all."
"The Court has confirmed that MUP is a restriction on trade, and that it is illegal to choose MUP where there are less restrictive ways of achieving the same end."
"The Scottish courts will now reflect on the implications of the ruling and all the evidence, before issuing a final judgement."
"This ruling opens the way to moving the debate on and allowing us to address alcohol misuse with practical measures that actually work."
"Alcohol-related deaths have fallen by a third over the last decade in Scotland, which suggests we are already on the right path. We remain committed to working closely with the Scottish Government and everyone else with an interest."
Michter's becomes Heritage member
The Kentucky Distillers' Association has announced that Michter's Distillery has advanced to the 'Heritage' member level, the highest rank in the non-profit trade group that unites and leads the state's signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry.
Michter's is the first new 'Heritage' member since 1982, when Heaven Hill Brands joined the KDA. To qualify as a Heritage member, distilleries must have at least 25,000 barrels of Kentucky distilled spirits aging in warehouses, according to KDA President Eric Gregory.
Heaven Hill celebrates 80th anniversary
In Bardstown, Kentucky 1935, Friday 13 was anything but unlucky for Heaven Hill. It was on that date 80 years ago that the fledgling distillery filled its first barrel of fine Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
To mark the anniversary of the occasion, Heaven Hill Brands is producing a special run of Bourbon on Saturday 12 December, including filling all barrels that day at the company's original 1935 barrel entry proof of 107°.
A number of these barrels will receive special commemorative barrel heads, and will be put up to age on the first floor of Rickhouse Y where visitors to Heaven Hill's Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown will be able to view them.
Stella David steps down
William Grant & Sons has today confirmed that Chief Executive, Stella David, has decided to step down as CEO at the end of February 2016 and will be succeeded by current Chief Commercial Officer, Simon Hunt who has been with William Grant & Sons since October 2007.