Simpsons Malt, a UK-based fifth-generation, family-owned malting company, has entered into an agreement to acquire 40 acres of land in Speyside, Scotland, where it intends to build a state-of-the-art malting with malting barley storage facilities, subject to planning and due diligence. The land is situated near the town of Rothes, ten miles south of Elgin, in a region that is world-famous for its Scotch whisky distilleries – many of whom use the company’s malts in their whiskies. Details about the timing, the size of the new plant and the amount of the planned investment have not been revealed.
Simpsons Malt claims to be the largest independent maltster in the UK. It has a malting capacity of about 280,000 tons of malt at two maltings in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland – where the company’s headquarters is located – and Tivetshall St Margaret, Norfolk. The malting company which includes agricultural merchanting divisions McCreath, Simpson & Prentice and John Guthrie, recorded sales of GBP 168 million (USD 217m) in 2019, up from GBP 156.6 million (USD 203m) in the previous year. Pre-tax profits rose by around a third to GBP 9.8 million (USD 12.7m). The company attributed the higher sales and profit to the better capacity utilization of the two plants.
The construction of a new malting facility near Rothes, which is about 230 miles (370 km) north of Berwick-upon-Tweed brings logistical benefits to the company, while also helping it reduce its carbon footprint. Other maltsters like Crisp, Bairds and Boortmalt but also Diageo have already taken advantage of the growing demand for malt from the distilling industry and run their own maltings in Speyside or the northern Highlands.
Bairds Malt, the UK-based business of Australian stock listed company United Malt Group, announced in October 2018 to add a total of 79,000 tons of annual malting capacity in Scotland by upgrading its Arbroath facility and building a new state-of-the-art malting plant at its Inverness site (inside.beer, 18.10.2018).Construction of the new plant with an annual capacity of 57,000 tons of malt began last month, with the production expected to begin by the end of 2021.
Crisp Malt, which runs five malt production sites in the UK and one in Germany and Poland each, has invested last year GBP 3.3 million (USD 4.3m) in a new peat kiln at its site in Portgordon which is also located in the Speyside area. The investment has helped to double the annual production capacity to 40,000 tons of peated malt.
Speaking about the land purchase, Simpsons Malt Managing Director Tim McCreath said: “I am delighted to announce that we have entered into this agreement, which aligns with the company’s long-term strategic objectives.
“Having a maltings and malting barley storage facility in Speyside is something we have given serious thought to for a number of years and, subject to planning and due diligence, we will begin construction when the time is right and demand is there from our customers.”