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Pandemic and US whisky tariff hits Tomatin Distillery sales


By Andrew Dixon

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US whisky tariffs led to a 17 per cent drop in single malt sales to the USA.
US whisky tariffs led to a 17 per cent drop in single malt sales to the USA.

A Highland firm’s sales of single malt were hit by a whisky tariff in America last year.

The Tomatin Distillery Company – which produces and sells malt and blended Scotch whisky – pointed out the drop in its accounts for the year ended December 31, 2020.

A strategic report accompanying the firm’s latest figures stated: “The company continues to focus on the development of its Scotch whisky brands. Single malt sales decreased by 17 per cent in 2020 as a result of a 25 per cent tariff imposed by the US administration.

“Sales in the UK, Asia and travel retail were severely impacted by the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, although positive results were achieved in Eastern Europe, the EC [European Commission] and Middle East.

“The company’s visitor centre remained closed for the majority of 2020.

“The company was encouraged by the positive performance of its standard blended whisky brands which remained strong in 2020.

“Revenue generated from bulk whisky sales grew by 32 per cent.”

Turnover dropped from £19,780,504 in 2019 to £19,676,199 last year. For the same period, pre-tax profit increased from £5,470,734 to £6,336,372.

Despite a small drop in turnover, pre-tax profits increased by almost £900,000 for Tomatin Distillery.
Despite a small drop in turnover, pre-tax profits increased by almost £900,000 for Tomatin Distillery.

Directors described the pandemic as creating an unprecedented level of uncertainty for businesses all over the world.

The board has been closely monitoring and adhering to guidance from the UK government.

Last year, the distillery received a government grant of £251,000 from a job retention scheme.

The average number of employees dipped from 67 in 2019 to 63 last year, while staff costs dropped from £2,309,884 to £2,149,794.

The report added: “In the long term, the company will continue to utilise the opportunities created by the ever-growing demand for single malt whisky both in the UK and internationally.”

The distillery – whose ultimate parent company is Japan’s Takara Holdings – does not expect any significant long-term impact to its business as a result of Brexit.


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