Hunter Laing has raised a glass to “record revenue and profits” as it prepares to launch the maiden whisky from its new distillery on Islay.

The Glasgow-based whisky bottler and blender made an operating profit of £11 million for the year ended April 30, 2023, up from £7.9m the previous time, accounts newly filed at Companies House show. Profits increased as revenue surged to £20.5m from £17.9m.

The family behind Hunter Laing have been connected to the whisky industry for more than three generations. Chairman Stewart Laing founded the firm with sons Andrew and Scott in 2013, after Douglas Laing & Co, the family business – including brands and assets - he had run with brother Fred for more than 40 years was split in two as part of succession planning.

Hunter Laing took brands such as Old Malt Cask, Old & Rare, and Sovereign and a bottling operation in East Kilbride. It went on to acquire and expand a cask maturation warehouse in the South Lanarkshire town in 2014 before investing £12m to build its first distillery by Loch Ardnahoe on the north-east of Islay. Work on the distillery began in January 2017 and the first spirit began to be produced in October 2018. Its inaugural single malt is scheduled to launch on May 10.

READ MORE: Hunter Laing invests in huge whisky warehouse

The five-year-old whisky is described as being “classic Islay” in style, with “signature characteristics of peat and smoke… balanced with a sweet fruitiness and real depth of flavour”. Matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks, the whisky will be available from the distillery and retailers such as The Whisky Shop with a recommended retail price of £70.

Writing in the accounts, the company states: “The 2022/23 financial year saw the company deliver record revenue and profits. The board were delighted with this result, which reflects the dedication and commitment of all our staff and the valued support of everyone in our supply chain.

“Our core Far Eastern markets grew substantially whilst we increased our presence in North America, with our Scarabus brand gaining significant traction. Market demand for premium, rare Scotch whiskies remains strong for those with the right stocks - our stock investment policy of recent years, coupled with an ambitious wood programme, has allowed Hunter Laing to sustain and grow its presence and reputation in this market. We continue to open new supply new channels that will support this activity for the foreseeable future.”

Hunter Laing noted in the accounts that it had “continued to invest significantly” over the period to upgrade its bottling facilities. “This development will be essential to meet the demands of our sister company’s Ardnahoe spirit sales which will come on stream later in 2024,” it said.

READ MORE: Revealed: Plans for first new Scotch whisky distillery on Islay for more than a decade

“The company intends to bring forward further new products and brands that will continue to enhance its position as a leading player in the premium single malts market. We continue to build our portfolio of mature stocks, including by strategic acquisition, which have secured the future of our brands.”

The company, which is headquartered in Glasgow’s Park Circus, exports its whiskies to more than 70 countries. The accounts show it employed an average of 31 people over the period, down from 29 the year before, with overall payroll costs climbing to £1.74m from £1.51m.

Pre-tax profits for the period fell to just under £7m from £7.5m, which came as the company booked an exceptional item of £3.25m from irrecoverable loans that were written off. Dividends of £371,022 were paid, up from £327,834.

“The Laing family have been in the Scotch whisky business for more than three generations,” Hunter Laing states in the accounts. “The experience gained over that time has enabled Hunter Laing to develop a portfolio of premium single malts and blends that reflect the family’s entrepreneurial flair whilst maintaining many of the industry’s finest traditions.

“With an extensive stock of the finest Scotch whiskies and a growing and extensive brand portfolio, we aim to continue to develop and augment our core strengths.

“As a full-service whisky company, we support our clients throughout the product lifecycle from spirit production to final product and warehousing. We have a rolling programme of investment across every area of our business, with sustainability and the environment key elements in our investment strategy.”

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In January, it emerged that the company was planning to close the café at the Ardnahoe visitor centre after encountering trading challenges, amid the “effects of the current economic climate that is hitting the hospitality sector particularly hard”.

A spokesman said yesterday that instead of closing the café, the company modified its offering from a full-service restaurant to a coffee and whisky bar. The change resulted in the loss of five jobs, three full-time and two seasonal.

Hunter Laing said the distillery visitor centre, including its tours and gift shop, remain open as it steps up preparations for the launch of its whisky on May 10 and Feis Ile, the Islay Festival, later in the month.