THESE are heady times for the Scottish drinks industry.
Scotch continues to conquer the world, with each new set of export figures giving distillers more reason to cheer.
Our craft brewers are capturing the imagination, too. Ales lovingly made throughout the country, from Red Cuillin on Skye to Ossian in Perth, are captivating drinkers around the world, while gins infused with botanicals cultivated in Scotland have forged a new relationship with "mother's ruin".
The demand for such products, which is helping Scottish food and drink exports reach record highs, is illustrated in the investments distillers and brewers are busily making.
That the giants behind Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal and The Famous Grouse are ramping up production to meet soaring demand around the world is well documented.
But it is not just the big players that are investing for growth.
Isle of Arran is looking to build a brewery on the banks of Loch Earn, and separate schemes have been announced for a new whisky distillery and brewery in Glasgow. Meanwhile plans have been lodged to build a first-ever distillery on Shetland.
Yet it is a peculiarity of the drinks industry that many of its main routes to market are struggling in Scotland.
At first glance, last week's "seven-figure" takeover by Inverarity Morton of rival merchant Forth Wines may indicate the strength of the licensed trade, given the main function of the two companies is as wholesalers to the Scotland's licensed trade.
But closer inspection reveals it is the higher end of the market that is prospering, as opposed to the thousands of community pubs that make up so much of the trade. As Inverarity boss Stephen Russell conceded, the cream of the hospitality operators are generating the bulk demand for premium wine and spirits.
Many traditional bars around the country have seen business erode due to pressure on household incomes throughout the recession, worsening a decline caused by (rightly or wrongly) the smoking ban and cheap supermarkets prices. As trade has declined, their owners have become less able to invest.
Meanwhile, those at the higher end of the market look to have suffered less. This may be partly because they have had the resources to try to make their businesses more attractive.
They may have introduced a more compelling selection of whisky, beer or wine, or built a reputation for food, or begun offering entertainment.
These businesses are also said to have benefited from a trend that has seen people visit bars less often during the recession, but push the boat out a little more when they do.
In one respect, it could be argued the drinks trade experience reflects what has happened in other sectors as a result of the recession.
The grocery trade offers a further illustration of this squeezed middle, where premium players and discounters have prospered while some in the mainstream have found it tougher.
The buoyancy of the Scottish drinks industry really is something to savour. It is just a shame not everyone who makes their living from it is sharing in the success.
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