THE BenRiach Distillery Company has built up a £25 million war chest to drive the continued growth of the Scotch whisky business after serving up a hefty profits rise.

Newbridge-based BenRiach, headed by industry veteran Billy Walker, plans to build warehouses at existing sites and acquire maturation space as it ramps up output to meet growing demand.

It is also in the market to buy whisky produced at its three distilleries - BenRiach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh - from periods pre-dating its ownership.

The investment drive, supported by long-term backer Royal Bank of Scotland, was announced as The BenRiach Distillery Company booked a pre-tax profit rise of nearly 25 per cent for 2014.

Profits leapt to a record £11.1 million and turnover soared by 17.6 per cent to £41.5m in a year which saw "unprecedented" demand for its three single malt brands.

The distiller listed Taiwan, Germany, the UK, Africa and the US as the top five markets for its whiskies.

Sales director Alistair Walker said the growth seen by the company in 2014 was "driven almost entirely by the branded side of the business".

Highlighting the importance of good distributor relationships and the positive consumer response to the brands, he said: "We're still seeing tremendous positivity in most markets."

He added: "Today we have a wide customer base and currently ship to over 40 countries but there is still potential for growth in the likes of Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea and much of Africa and South America.

"So I believe the future of all our brands is tremendously exciting."

News of BenRiach's drive to grow its whisky maturation capacity comes just days after the Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay received planning permission to build six warehouses on the island.

Alongside building and acquiring warehouses, BenRiach's biggest capital outlay in the next two years will be on acquiring stocks of whisky made at its distilleries before they were owned by the company.

Mr Walker noted that 2014 had been a landmark year because it had seen the release of the BenRiach 10 Years Old, a whisky made entirely from malt distilled during its stewardship of the Speyside distillery.

The branding specially developed for the 10 year old is now being across the BenRiach range.

Asked whether the company would consider acquiring further distilleries, Mr Walker said the company would "never rule it out".

But he conceded it is "becoming more and more expensive" to buy established distilleries.

Meanwhile, Mr Walker underlined the positive progress now being made by BenRiach in China after admitting to experiencing "a couple of false starts" in the world's second biggest economy.

He said: "One of the advantages for us is that when you talk about austerity [in China] it's mostly the bigger players who have posted less than positive feedback from the market.

"In comparison, we are relatively small and still going through a growth phase."

The BenRiach Distillery Company was founded by Walker and South African investors Geoff Bell and Wayne Kieswetter when they acquired the then mothballed BenRiach Distillery from Pernod Ricard in 2004.

The company went on to snap up Highland distillery GlenDronach in Aberdeenshire in 2008, and Glenglassaugh in Speyside in 2013, while it invested in a bottling plant at Newbridge in 2010.