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Sales of single malts soar

Published:  23 July, 2008

The amount of malt whisky drunk in the UK in 2004 is 10% up on 2003 levels - and the consumer is trading up, too.

Twenty years ago, single malt whisky accounted for one in every 40 bottles purchased - that figure is now one in 10 bottles. This situation is almost mirrored overseas: in 1984, one in 50 bottles consumed were single malts; now, it is one in 17. The statistics come from the 2005 Scotch Whisky Industry review, published by stockbrokers Charles Stanley.

Sukhinder Singh, of The Whisky Exchange, told Harpers that he was staggered by the trend towards single malts: I am really surprised. A lot of companies are trying to educate the consumer, because the malt categories are confusing. People know that malts are more expensive than blends.

You can't say that blends are an inferior product; they're just different. With the age-statements you can get now, blends can be fantastic. And they're a lot more easy-drinking. But once people discover

single malts, they don't look back at blends.'

Waitrose's spirits buyer Giles Fisher added that the retailer saw a 16% growth in total whisky sales over the past year, with single malt sales accounting for 29% of that figure.

The review added that Islay is the fastest-growing category of single malts, expanding by 27% between 2000 and 2003. And Bruichladdich (on Islay) grew by an amazing 500% between those dates - although production only began in 2001 following a seven years in mothballs.

Glen Grant, the third-biggest whisky brand in the world, is to be put up for sale by Pernod Ricard.

The sale of the brand, which is the top-selling whisky in Italy, is expected to start a bidding war. Early candidates include LVMH, Bacardi, William Grant & Sons, and Whyte & Mackay.

The EU has ruled that Pernod Ricard must sell Glen Grant as a condition of its 7.4 billion takeover of Allied Domecq. A spokesman for Pernod Ricard refused to comment on the sale.