A complete whisky distillery is on its way from Scotland to China, having bade farewell to the Highlands on Friday.
More than 35 tonnes of equipment, including stills, control valves and pipework, is leaving the remote town of Buckie on the Moray Firth coast for the port of Tianjin, in Northern China.
The equipment will be transported to a facility being built in Inner Mongolia at Ordo City on the Yellow River. The new-build city was planned for a million people, but this futuristic metropolis now rises empty out of the deserts of northern China.
The facility in Ordos will become Inner Mongolia’s first whisky distillery when it opens, probably at the end of this year.
The shipment is part of a US$4 million “design and build” deal signed between Scottish firm Valentine International and China’s Mengtai Group in 2019.
All of the distillery equipment was built by Rothes-based firm Forsyths, which is sending a team of five engineers to supervise assembly.
Forsyths also have a team in Hong Kong to provide after-sales back-up and services.
Valentine International chairman and managing director David Valentine said the project was the brainchild of Mengtai chairman Ao Fengting, who plans to create a “globally award-winning whisky”.
There is no word yet on whether the company will attempt to describe its spirit as Scotch, or Scotch-style whisky, or just, for example, Mongolian single malt.
Valentine, who specialises in establishing commercial ventures in China, said: “Scotland is the home of whisky and has the greatest expertise in terms of distillery equipment manufacture, which is why Ao Fengting believes we will deliver a world-beating project for him in Ordos.”
It is Mengtai’s first venture into the world of whisky. One of Inner Mongolia’s largest private firms, its core businesses include coal production and electricity generation.
In a separate development, Valentine International has signed a “strategic agreement” with Mengtai to supply bulk whiskies to China.
Valentine declined to name the whisky distiller in that deal but said it was a “long-established” firm.