Trials have begun of a scheme to transport Scotch whisky by rail from Speyside to the port of Grangemouth in a project entitled “Lifting the Spirit”.
The first DB Schenker Rail UK train departed Elgin Goods Yard in Speyside at the beginning of September 2013 to make the 200-mile journey through Aberdeen to Grangemouth in central Scotland.
Currently, all bulk Scotch whisky and spirit is moved by road from Speyside to warehouses and bottling halls across central Scotland.
The trial, which will run until mid-November, is the result of collaboration between several Scotch whisky producers, including Diageo, Chivas Brothers, John Dewar & Sons, Whyte & Mackay and Glen Turner, to create enough volume to make rail freight a viable option.
The whisky industry contributes some £2.7 billion to the Scottish economy and is expected to experience significant growth in the coming years.
Initially, DB Schenker is operating a twice weekly service from Elgin to Grangemouth, with the potential to carry other food and drink products along with Scotch Whisky. Empty Bourbon casks from the USA for the scotch Whisky industry may be carried on the return journey to Speyside, along with other goods, such as malt and barley.
“Lifting the Spirit” is being driven and part-funded by HITRANS (the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership), Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Moray Council. It is the first time that a substantial volume of goods has been transported by rail from Elgin since the mid-1980s.