They are some of the finest whiskies produced over the decades and are highly sought after by collectors all across the world.

Now hundreds of young people in Scotland battling adversity have been helped by a £2.4 million fund that is generated through the sale of rare bottles of the 'water of life'.

Collectable Scotch whiskies donated by distilleries for auction have benefited nearly 500 disadvantaged young people in the last year, with more than half going on to work, apprenticeships, further education, training, or volunteering

The Distillers Charity holds a bi-annual auction to raise funds for its Youth Action Fund. 

Funds are then distributed to a number of charities including Action for Children and Enable.

One bottle of Glenfiddich fetched more than £1m in the last auction, in 2021.

Young people requiring support are identified through the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation and include those who are care-experienced, young offenders, and those who have low levels of educational attainment.

An impact report by the charity released yesterday shows that programmes supported by the fund were active in 81 per cent (26 of 32) of Scotland’s local authorities in 2022.

Some 478 young people were helped by the fund’s partner charities which also include Aberdeen Foyer, Alcohol Education Trust, Fare Scotland and Street League.

Twenty-five per cent of beneficiaries are from the 10% most deprived communities in Scotland.

Gareth Wright, 17, from Shotts in North Lanarkshire, is among those who have benefited.

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He received support from Stepping Up, a support programme for young people with learning disabilities, run by Enable, which helped him build his confidence and prepare him for work experience and further education.  

Support from the whisky charity’s fund has enabled Stepping Up to expand its work in central Scotland and Moray. 


The teenager said he was “labelled a troublemaker” at school and links this to having autism.

“Enable helped me realise that I could talk to people, I could handle a CV, and I could make sure that my voice is actually heard, rather than sitting in a corner. 

“It’s a rapid change and I don’t know where I would be without it.” 

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Gareth is now doing work experience as a classroom assistant in a primary school and is applying to colleges with a view to a career in social work.

John Brown, 16, from Glasgow, was placed into care at the age of eight and for three years was moved from home to home, continually switching schools, which had lasting effects on his mental health, education and relationships. 


John received help from Action for Children, joining the charity’s Intro to Care programme. With help from his charity worker, he participated well and completed the programme, and is now studying health and social care at Ayrshire College in Kilwinning.

He said: “At the start I was kind of anxious.

“My aspiration after college is to join the ambulance service as an ambulance technician and then go to university and be a paramedic. I cannot believe how far I have come.”

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Grant Gordon OBE, chair of The Distillers Charity, said: “Our aim has always been to bring together the Scotch whisky industry for a common purpose – to change the lives of the young people who need it most. 

“Whether that be through supporting them to acquire the skills and experience needed to lift them out of unemployment, using the power of sport to help them develop confidence and resilience, or providing school transition programmes that help leavers explore their aspirations for the future. 

“I’m proud to be part of an industry that, through its collective charitable endeavours, is supporting young people to achieve their ambitions and strengthening our communities.”

The fund’s portfolio of charities is managed by the social enterprise Inspiring Scotland.

Celia Tennant, chief executive, said: “The results of the first year of the fund demonstrate the effectiveness of the charity partners in standing alongside young people, ensuring they have support to overcome challenges, navigate their personal development, and nurture their potential."

The Distillers Charity was founded in 1955 as the philanthropic arm of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, a City of London Livery company. 

In addition to the Youth Action Fund, its charitable work has focused on vocational training and education to develop the next generation of talent in the spirits trade.