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Whisky demand spurs extra ferry crossings

Published:  23 July, 2008

Record global demand for Islay whisky has forced Caledonian MacBrayne to add extra ferry sailings in winter between the famed peat island and the Scottish mainland.

The ferry operator's current reduced frequency sailings has hampered the efforts of the island's eight distilleries to increase production and meet record export sales, led by growing markets in China and Brazil.

Lorries carrying barrels of famous single malts including Bowmore, Laphroaig, Bunnahabhain and Ardbeg have to compete with deck space with cars which, in turn, has affected Ileachs commuting to the mainland and tourists visiting the island.

Mark Reynier, managing director of the independent distillery Bruichladdich, Islay's biggest employer and the only distillery to bottle on site, welcomed the news, saying last winter he had been hit with 10-day delays getting bottles onto the island.

CalMac is awaiting the Scottish Executive to approve year-round use of a second ferry between Port Ellen and Port Askaig on Islay and Kennacraig on Kintyre.

In 2006, whisky exports - 90% of production - were worth 2.5 billion to the Scottish economy and represented 25% of all British food and drink exports, said the Scotch Whisky Association.