Speyside distillers Chivas Brothers, Diageo and Angus Dundee, have each contributed to a multi-million pound contract with gas connection infrastructure company, Fulcrum, which will oversee the creation of a new pipeline linking remote Speyside distilleries at The Glenlivet, Tormore Cragganmore and Tomintoul, with Scotland’s main gas network.

The underground pipeline, set to be completed by the summer of 2014, will end the distilleries’ reliance on expensive heavy fuel oil and tanker deliveries, which can be compromised by severe winter weather conditions.

“We are delighted that Chivas Brothers, Diageo and Angus Dundee have chosen to make this investment at a time when Scotch whisky exports are growing substantially,” said Richard Atkinson, Fulcrum’s sales and marketing director. “The pipeline will dramatically improve the distilleries’ energy infrastructure, providing scope for them to scale-up production and guarantee product continuity, and will provide a significant reduction to carbon footprints at each distillery.

“This will be one of the most ambitious gas infrastructure projects in the UK for a number of years. Oil prices have been volatile for some time and it is increasingly economical for companies outside the main gas network to make this kind of investment.”

In a joint comment the three distillery companies said, “These distilleries were founded before the advent of gas as an energy source and their distant locations were often chosen for a bounteous supply of fresh spring water above all else. It is a very positive move to bring them online with the main gas network which will bring environmental and economic benefits to all distillers concerned.”

It is anticipated that Chivas Brothers, Diageo and Angus Dundee will recoup their initial investment within a few years based on current energy prices. The new pipeline will also offer social and environmental benefits to the areas around the distilleries – reducing dependence on heavy fuel tankers, opening up access to cleaner energy supply and removing the risks associated with storing large quantities of oil.

Fulcrum is in discussions with several other Scotch whisky distillers interested in funding new gas connection pipelines, either as part of a consortium or individually.