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Scottish whisky distillery toasts Chinese distribution deal

By BO LEUNG in London | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-04 08:00

Scottish whisky distillery toasts Chinese distribution deal

A woman tastes whisky at a hotel in Beijing. [Photo/VCG]

One of Scotland's oldest whisky producers said it is tapping into the lucrative Chinese thirst for the drink after securing a major distribution deal with one of China's food and beverage giants.

Loch Lomond Group, based in Alexandria in Scotland, has entered into a partnership with China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corp, also known as COFCO.

The Scottish independent distillery full range of whiskies, which include Loch Lomond, Glen Scotia and Littlemill, will be available to customers throughout China.

Loch Lomond, which was founded in 1814, is based in West Dunbartonshire in Scotland. The company's Littlemill distillery was founded in 1772.

The company said the distribution deal would make China one of Loch Lomond Group's key export markets. COFCO has an extensive network of 700 retail outlets and more than 1,000 sub-distributors.

Demand for high-quality whisky has soared in the Chinese mainland, driven in part by rising middle-class incomes.

According to the Scotch Whisky Association, the value of exports to China increased 0.5 percent to 41 million pounds ($52 million) in 2016, with the market continuing on an upward trend. That followed a previous drop in sales after Beijing's anti-corruption measures curtailed lavish spending among public servants.

But it is the increasing taste of China's rising middle-class for single malt whiskies that is exciting the industry.

Single malt exports to the world's second-largest economy amounted to 12.9 million pounds last year, a 66 percent jump from 2015.

The Alexandria-based group noted whisky sales increased 12-fold in China during the last 10 years.

"We're very excited about our new partnership with COFCO across the fast-growing Chinese market," said Loch Lomond CEO Colin Matthews.

"COFCO is a very ambitious, energetic and innovative organization with a great team and exciting plans for the future, which matches our own aspirations, both for China and as a group."

After visiting Loch Lomond Group's Alexandria malt and grain distilleries, as well as its Glen Scotia distillery in Campbeltown, Castle Li, general manager of COFCO Wine & Spirits, said: "COFCO is determined to use all of its resources, energy and strengths to succeed in bringing the Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia Scotch whisky portfolios to the Chinese market and its many millions of consumers."

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