Whisky galore

Single malt Scotch whiskies have never been more popular on the world market and BenRiach, which owns and operates three single-malt distilleries in Speyside, has been reaping the rewards.

Founded in 2004 with the acquisition of the venerable BenRiach distillery, the company also owns a bottling plant at Newbridge near Edinburgh. Exports represent 90% of the business. 

“As an independent distiller, we see ourselves as a boutique, artisanal whisky maker,” says Managing Director Billy Walker, “and the market for this style of whisky has developed significantly.

“The business has experienced very healthy growth since it started, but especially in the last three years. Despite the challenging economic market conditions, the world is a more accessible marketplace.”

  • 90% of BenRiach’s business is in exports

Another challenge lies in the need to think very long-term on the production front. “In our business we have to adopt a 12-year plan to ensure that we are producing and laying down sufficient stocks of maturing whisky to fulfil our medium-to-long-term forecasts,” says Billy. “The biggest challenge is funding the stock, with the key costs being barley, wood, energy and manpower.

“However, our profit growth has been very encouraging, and we are in a cash-generative position. Also, as a result, we have a very good relationship with our bank, RBS, based on an asset-financed agreement, and this allows us to react quickly and positively when opportunities to develop the business present themselves.”

With this in mind, Billy has some sound advice for entrepreneurs embarking on a new business: “Focus on a realistic and achievable business plan, understand your markets and make sure that your money plan and your business plan are compatible.”