TULLIBARDINE, the French-owned Perthshire distillery and shop, has toasted a major rise in pre-tax profits as it continues to see opportunities for Scotch whisky around the world.

The distillery business, based in the Eaglesgate Retail Village near Blackford, recorded earnings before tax of £1.03 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, accounts newly available at Companies House show.

The firm, which makes the Tullibardine Highland malt and runs distillery tours, booked pre-tax profits of £65,254 for the seven months ended December 31, 2011. That profit followed earnings of £495,841 for the 12 months to May 31, 2011.

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The difference in accounting periods shown in the latest results reflects the switch by the company, which was acquired by Bourgognes & Domaines Michel Picard SA in 2011, to a calendar financial year.

The accounts show the distiller enjoyed a major underlying spike in turnover to £15.2m, up from £5.65m for the seven months to the end of 2011, which the directors said had been "largely due to increased lower-margin sales".

This increase in lower-margin business was also highlighted when Tullibardine reported its last set of results in September last year.

An analysis of turnover by geographical market reveals an underlying increase in sales in the UK, rising to £11.5m in 2012, compared with £4.4m in the seven months to the end of 2011.

There was also a leap in sales to Europe last year, with turnover hitting £3.2m versus £581,847. Writing in the accounts, the directors noted the positive outlook for Scotch whisky.

The directors said: "The worldwide market for malt whisky continues to thrive, which presents many opportunities for the company.

"The intention is to have the distillery working at full capacity for the coming year. Managing the cost of raw materials, particularly oil and malted barley, remains critical to the success of the business and systems are in place to ensure that this is closely monitored."

Tullibardine employed an average of 30 staff during its last financial year, down from 33 in the second half of 2011. Twelve were employed in distillery roles, with 13 in its retail business. That compared with 11 distillery roles and 15 in retail at the time of the last accounts.

Overall staff costs were £703,638 for the year. They were £525,215 in the seven months to the end of December 2011. The directors added that they "continue to be impressed by the commitment and dedication of our excellent staff".

They said: "The company's success is greatly dependent on its people and team development continues to be an important part of our ongoing strategy."

The Tullibardine distillery is based on the site of a brewery where, according to its website, King James IV bought beer in 1488 following his coronation at Scone Palace. It was converted into a distillery after its purchase by William Delme Evans in 1947, but eventually mothballed by Whyte & Mackay in 1994, along with other distilleries, as the company dealt with over-capacity. Tullibardine was revived by a consortium of five businessmen in 2003.