Lifting the Spirit trial launched

On September 13, a trial was launched to deliver Scotch Whisky by train from Speyside to central Scotland in a bid to cut road journeys and emissions.

Several Scotch Whisky producers are working together on the trial, including Diageo, Chivas Brothers, John Dewar & Sons, Whyte & Mackay and Glen Turner.

Currently all bulk Scotch Whisky and spirit is moved by road from Speyside to warehouses and bottling halls across central Scotland. The ‘Lifting the Spirit’ project is designed to reduce lorry movements on busy roads, test an alternative transport option for the expanding Scotch Whisky industry and assess the benefit to the environment.

The first trains transporting Scotch Whisky left the Elgin goods yard in Speyside on September 14, to make the journey of more than 200 miles through Aberdeen to Grangemouth in central Scotland.

It is the first time there has been any substantial volume of goods, including Scotch Whisky, transported by train from Elgin since the mid-1980s. Such innovation has been made possible following work by Network Rail, with some Scottish Government funding, to improve the train route and facilities around Elgin.

Within the Food Port Project, the ‘Lifting the Spirit’ is being driven by HITRANS (the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership) with additional part funding from Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Moray Council.

Trains will run twice a week from Elgin to Grangemouth. There is 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.

The trial will run until around mid-November and an independent academic partner is being appointed to analyse the results of the trial and investigate its feasibility in the longer-term. For more information please check the Hitrans website for the press release click here.