World record attempt for largest whisky tasting to give Artisanal Spirits Company a full-year lift

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society owner Artisanal Spirits Company has flagged a stronger full-year performance as it grows its global membership, launches private cask sales and makes a world record attempt for the largest whisky tasting.

The Edinburgh-based group, which listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2021, posted revenues of £10.2 million for the six months to the end of June, up 3 per cent on the year before. Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) membership grew by 9 per cent year on year, with double-digit growth in Europe, US, Japan and at its franchises. China - a key market - also returned to membership growth through the second quarter.

However, the half-year results also revealed that adjusted underlying losses had widened to £1.8m from £300,000 a year earlier. The group noted that revenue growth and profit delivery were weighted to the second half, and that it remained on track to deliver “positive” underlying earnings for the full year. It pointed towards market guidance for full-year revenues of around £25m and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of just over £1m. Since the end of the first half, global membership has continued to grow and now stands at more than 39,000.

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Andrew Dane, chief executive of Artisanal Spirits Company, said he anticipated a boost from the launch of the company’s refurbished venue at the Vaults in Leith, described as “the spiritual home of the society”, at the end of September, coupled with a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest whisky tasting worldwide, when members will take part in the same live virtual tasting event on the afternoon of 30 September. “It’s nice to have the refurbishment coincide with the 40th anniversary [of the society],” added Dane. “There is now much more bar space for people to come and talk to the team there and a lot more of the bottles on display.”

Edinburgh-based Artisanal Spirits Company is the owner of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2021.Edinburgh-based Artisanal Spirits Company is the owner of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2021.
Edinburgh-based Artisanal Spirits Company is the owner of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2021.

The SMWS membership product offer is being broadened in the second half with the introduction of private cask sales which will allow members to “more actively participate in the whisky curation process”. The move will also open up a complementary revenue stream.

The group told investors: “Like many other companies, we have felt the impact of the changing macroeconomic conditions and cost-of-living pressures during 2023, and we expect them to remain over the course of the next 12-18 months. Our globally diversified footprint, growing membership and pioneering model, combined with the demographics of our loyal and engaged customers make us better placed to continue to grow despite these wider market conditions.”

During the first half the firm also completed the final development phase of Masterton Bond, its new supply chain facility at Uddingston. The site is now completing all bottling and despatch activities for the group.

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Dane said: “As we look ahead to trading in the balance of the year, despite the ongoing macroeconomic backdrop, we remain focused on delivering Ebitda at the consensus level, with the continued premiumisation trend, our expanding, loyal and engaged membership base and diversified global business model supporting our growth ambitions.”

Analysts at Liberum noted: “Artisanal Spirits has invested heavily since 2015 to build out its inventory base. It now has enough whisky stock to satisfy demand into the next decade, hedging inflationary costs and providing security for gross margins.”

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