Chivas Brothers Pernod Ricard spots 'prestige' opportunity in hand-bottled whisky

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Chivas Brothers Pernod Ricard spots 'prestige' opportunity in hand-bottled whisky

Related tags: Pernod ricard

Pernod Ricard spirits business Chivas Brothers is committing ₤40m per year to increase Scotch distillation capacity and bottling facilities, and notes a growing thirst for premium products in Brazil and Mexico.

The year ending June 2011 saw the UK-based company grow sales by 6% to ₤517.6m (€646m) and today the firm cited rising demand for premium spirits from customers in Asia and South America.

Capitalising on this trend, Chivas Brothers yesterday said it was committed to beating industry-wide category value growth by achieving high single-to-double digit value growth.

The firm said that its new bottling hall – due to open in Paisley in summer 2012 – would increase the emphasis on hand-bottling for ‘prestige’ and ‘ultra-prestige’ editions.

Priceless whisky editions

These included Chivas Regal 25, the Royal Salute range and high-end limited editions of The Glenlivet and Ballantine’s; the bottling hall will also have facilities for new product development (NPD).

International PR manager Jim Long told “Obviously bottling has become increasingly mechanised over the years, but in fact with the high-end products you’ll increasingly only have a stopper that can be applied by hand without damaging it.

He added: “We also want to closely examine the parts of the packaging, including the box, individually, to check that everything is fine. Also if you have a bottle that costs $2,500 with an elaborate box, it can only really be placed in the box by hand.

“There is no way a machine can do this is as with a normal carton, and we also add in information booklets, and hand-finish bottles to ensure that the product is absolutely pristine for the customer.”

High net worth individuals

So who around the world was upping their spend on premium whisky? “Demand is quite broad. Asia is a big growth area but the picture is broadening – Mexico and Brazil are coming into it,” ​Long said.

“Brazil especially both at the entry level and the high end – there’s a big emerging middle-class there and a large high net worth individual quotient.”

Distillation capacity for malt whisky will also be increased at four sites – Glenallachie, Glentauchers, Tormore and Longmorn, while Glen Keith distillery will be reopened in April 2013.

As a result, overall capacity would increase 25% across 2012 and 2013 the company said, with malt whisky capacity rising from 46m to 60m litres per year, while new heat recovery technology was also being introduced to make stills 25% more efficient and also allowed for "fruitier blends".

Long told this publication: “The ₤40m figure shows a commitment to invest in the company and the supply chain, because we know the market is there. This will be an ongoing investment in a number of different areas as we go forward.”

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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