In a landmark contract, Scottish company Valentine International is to ship 35 tonnes of whisky making equipment from a distillery in Moray, Highland, to northern China. The hardware includes spirit stills capable of producing premium malt whisky, along with control valves, pipework and flooring.The shipment is worth approximately £3 million and will head 5,000 miles eastwards from Scotland to the port of Tianjin. Next, from the dockside, the load will make its way to Ordos City in the Chinese autonomous region of Inner Mongolia.
Fabrication specialists and coppersmiths Forsyths of Rothes, Morayshire, will oversee the dismantling operation before five company engineers travel with the consignment. Once the load reaches its destination, the team will supervise its reassembly. Additional engineering staff in Hong Kong will provide post-sales support service if necessary.
Signed in 2019, the sizeable deal came from an international design and build initiative. The contract is a first for Forsyths in this Chinese region.
The new owner, Chinese company Mengtai, will operate the distillery. Chairman Ao Fengting has described plans to create an award-winning whisky.
Initially, the parties envisaged completion and production of new make spirit by the end of 2020. However, logistical delays following the Coronavirus pandemic mean that the revised completion date will likely be towards the end of this year (2021).
This project represents a horizontal expansion initiative for the enterprise, being its first venture into high-quality distilling. Its other business interests include distributing urban heating systems, producing aluminium parts, generating electricity and mining. According to the corporate website, the group employs 4,300 people and is committed to green development and socially responsible policies.
Inner Mongolia covers more than 450,000 square miles and is the widest province in China. Characterised by mountainous plains and plateaus with grassy landscapes, blizzards are a common occurrence in winter. In contrast, summers are warm but short.
International business connections
Valentine International has also signed an agreement with Mengtai to supply bottled whisky. Based in Forfar, the small but well-connected company specialises in connecting businesses. Its chairman and MD, David Valentine MBE, boasts credentials including town planning, business support and international trade.
Mr Valentine is Vice President of Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce. In addition, he has led Angus Council’s Chinese trade initiative since 1996.
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