I received this note from Frank McHardy, Director of Production at Springbank. It went out earlier this morning to me (and other select media sources). This is great to see Springbank starting back up in 2009, as they promised they would
(And yes, I was the writer referring to Springbank as the “canary in the coal mine,” with regards to what might be happening to the whisky industry, in the current issue of Malt Advocate.)
Here’s the letter from Frank:
It is now nearly six months since we took the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the production of spirit from both Springbank and Glengyle Distilleries. There were a few contributing factors which led to our decision and these included the high price of electricity, oil, empty casks and barley. The Still House roof also required replacing and this has now been completed. Our warehouses were pretty full of maturing stock but with bottling continuing to fulfil demand world wide for our products more warehouse space is now available. Six months ago we said that “the material market will be kept under continuous review” and “we can now clarify that we will commence production from both of our distilleries during early 2009.”
The price of utilities has dropped dramatically recently and we will take advantage of this to get the distilleries producing again. J & A Mitchell have recently been reported by one whisky writer to be like “the canary in the coal mine.” If you remember coal miners used to use a canary as an early warning system to detect gas at the coal face . We reckon that we have recognised the warning signals early enough and acted sensibly to protect our brands, and of course the canary. After 180 + years in distilling we think that we know how to react to trends within our industry.
This year we commissioned local farmer Robert Miller to grow 25 acres of Optic barley. The crop has produced 50 tonnes of barley which now lies in our barley loft and we await the barley to come out of dormancy. Distillery Manager Stuart Robertson is carrying out weekly “mini steeps” of the barley in small plastic food containers, they actually look suspiciously like his sandwich box. Once the barley “wakes up” and can germinate we will start malting. The local barley supplemented with malted barley already stored in our malt storage bins will ensure production of spirit at both our distilleries for up to six months next year. Great news.