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The journey of whisky
Product case

The journey of whisky

Whisky is booming business. That goes for Van den Bosch too: the amount of Scotch whisky that we ship to destinations worldwide is growing every year. And that presents opportunities, including for making our operations more sustainable.

Mark Ashton is Commercial Director of our Dubai branch, Van den Bosch DMCC, from where we coordinate deep see operations for the transportation of Scotch whisky. Ashton says. “We export for three leading Scottish distilleries: Chivas Brothers Limited (CBL), Distell Group and Diageo. They mainly export to India, although countries like America, Brazil and South Africa are also major whisky importers."

From those countries, export movements take place again, with Scotch whisky eventually ending up in hundreds of countries around the world. To reach those countries, the whisky makes an intermodal journey from Scotland: a combination of mainly rail, water and local transport (often trucks).

Efficient and sustainable
The whiskies we transport are in fact highly concentrated blends. This fits with our ambition to make our transport as efficient and sustainable as possible, says Bart van de Vorst, Managing Director of the Dubai branch.

"The whisky concentrates have an alcohol content of 66.8%. Only in the destination country are they diluted to the desired strength and given the desired flavour, depending on the label under which they end up on the market. Our advantage is that this way of working is much more efficient than transporting ready-to-drink whisky, as we don’t need to transport excess water.”

Whisky versus brandy, rum and tequila
Another aspect in the logistics puzzle: we prefer transporting full ISO tanks. But since the volume of whisky that Scotland exports is far greater than that of the other liquids it imports, this poses a challenge. We solve this through lateral thinking.

For example, after unloading a consignment of Scotch whisky at a Spanish port, the cleaned containers will be filled for the return journey with a product such as brandy or olive oil. The same goes for, say, wine from France, tequila from Mexico, or rum from Caribbean countries.

Strict rules
The stringent rules that Scottish distilleries have for transporting such 'arrival liquids' also pose a challenge. Ashton comments, "They want to avoid the colour, smell or taste of their whisky being affected by residues from previous loads. This is why distilleries have specific product lists for prior cargoes. Liquids such as alcoholic drinks, fruit juices, edible oils and fats (such as olive oil) are allowed, fish oil is not.”

A product like cocoa butter would also be suitable. Therefore, we’re exploring the possibility to transport a product like cocoa butter as a bulk liquid, rather than in blocks. This would let us optimise our supply chain even further.

Spanish influence
Also our branch in Barcelona plays an important role in our future plans. Antonio Casillas Gonzalez, Commercial Manager of Van den Bosch in Spain, describes a strong rise of whisky in Spain, which, together with gin and dark rum, forms the top-three of the Spanish liquor industry. And that presents opportunities, Gonzalez said.

“We are currently looking for the best logistics solutions to link whisky imports into Spain with the export of other products: to Northern Europe, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and Ireland, for example. At the moment, the volume of whisky imports is stable, and we want to see how we can make the most of this market next year. There are definitely opportunities in Spain.”

Would you like to receive new insights?

At Van den Bosch, we are happy to share our experience to improve the world of bulk logistics together. Please feel free to contact us with any challenge, question or request.

“I get an enormous kick when we succeed in finding new ways to optimise our clients’ supply chains”

Van den Bosch Paul van de Vorle – Director Business Development