more than £1million in Whisky leaked out of Scottish distillery

More than £1million worth of whisky flooded into the ground after a major leak at a distillery.

An investigation was launched by safety experts and environment watchdogs after the huge alcohol spillage.

Around 60,000 litres ­disappeared – the equivalent of 85,000 regular bottles – from the Loch Lomond ­Distillers warehouse in Catrine, Ayrshire.

The loss was caused by an unnoticed leak in one of the company’s giant vats.

Most of the whisky simply drained into the ground, while the rest went into the local River Ayr.

The Health and Safety ­Executive and Scottish ­Environmental Protection Agency carried out an inquiry into the leak amid fears it was a potential danger to the ­public.

Whisky bosses have been told to tighten up their ­operation and safeguard against further spillages.

A SEPA spokesman said: “An investigation was carried out at the Loch Lomond Group bonded warehouse in Catrine, following a discharge of whisky from the facility.

“It’s understood that due to a leak inside the building, a significant quantity of whisky managed to escape through the floor of the warehouse.

“It’s likely the majority of the whisky was absorbed by the ground beneath the ­warehouse but a small amount did manage to enter the drainage system and ­discharge directly into the River Ayr.

“Following numerous assessments of the ­watercourse by SEPA officers, the discharge was not found to have had any significant impact on the surface water environment.

Glen Catrine Whisky

“As the facility is also ­regulated under the Control of Major Accidents and ­Hazards Regulations 2015, a joint investigation was carried out by SEPA and the HSE.

“As a result, a series of ­corrective actions have been issued to the operator to ensure this incident does not reoccur.” SEPA and the HSE have only just completed their investigation into the leak, which happened in June.

A Loch Lomond Distillers spokesman said: “We can ­confirm there was an ­accidental leakage of around 60,000 litres of blended 
whisky from a vat at our ­bottling plant at Glen Catrine in Ayrshire.

“Tests showed no evidence of alcohol in the River Ayr, no visible evidence of impact on wildlife and minimal traces of alcohol on the river banks.

“We’ve been working with both SEPA and the HSE to ensure that there is no ­recurrence.”

It is the second time in five years there has been a major leakage of whisky at the Catrine plant.

In 2011, about 6600 litres of stronger whisky spirit was spilled when the distillery was under different owners.

Most of the whisky leaked into the River Ayr and the company were fined £12,000 atAyr Sheriff Court in 2014 after they admitted charges.

The spill occurred when the whisky spirit from a road tanker was pumped into the wrong vat, which was already full.

It later emerged that neither the operator nor the duty ­production manager had seen any company procedures for cleaning up spills and neither had received any formal ­training.

The loss of whisky was equivalent to 7143 bottles.

Loch Lomond Distillery produce a variety of popular whisky brands including ­Little Mill, Glengarry and 
Glen Scotia as well as their their own brand vodka 
and gin.

They also have distilleries in Campbeltown, Argyllshire, and in ­Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, near Loch Lomond.

An average 70cl bottle of blended whisky currently sells for between £12 and £15.

Whisky expert Sue Beatt of The Whisky Ambassador said: “Some 76 per cent of the price of a bottle of whisky is tax 
and VAT.

“The rest goes to the retailer and whoever makes it.

“So it is difficult to estimate the final loss to the company.”

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