YESTERDAY saw the latest stage of a remarkable project that will see an entire brand-new distillery shipped from Scotland to Inner Mongolia.

Purists need not worry that our Scotch is being hijacked. On the contrary, this is a very friendly international exercise which may even lead to more Scottish distilling experience and equipment going abroad to help countries make their own spirits.


THE giant MengTai company, with assets worth £3 billion and which has recently diversified into internet e-commerce and modern financial services, is based in Ordos, a city of two million people in the autonomous Chinese region of Inner Mongolia.

Founded in 2001, the group has more than 4300 employees, and its chief Ao FengTing is reckoned to be one of China’s most dynamic businessmen. MengTai has made a profit in each of the last 18 years.


DAVE Valentine, owner of Valentine International Business Connections based in Forfar, was commissioned to help deliver the distillery in Ordos. He said at the time: “Building a distillery in Inner Mongolia is the brainchild of MengTai’s chairman Mr Ao FengTing.

“In our view, there was never any contest. Forsyths is the first-choice supplier and leading-edge manufacturer of distillery equipment anywhere in the world.”

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Forsyths’ managing director Richard E Forsyth said: “We look forward to delivering a first-class malt whisky distillery in Inner Mongolia, our first contract in this province and a proud moment for our company.”

In a separate development, Valentine International has signed a “strategic agreement” with MengTai to supply bulk whiskies for China.

Valentine declined to tell the BBC which whisky distiller was in that deal but said it was a “long-established” firm.

At the time the deal was announced, Richard Lin Lu, senior UK-based representative of MengTai, said: “Despite the difficulties in these novel and trying times, we are working closely with Forsyths to avoid delay caused by the virus.

“We have so much to learn from the Scottish whisky industry – the cultural and historic ‘Home of Whisky’. So, we hope not just to bring the best Scotch Whisky production and technology to China, we also aim to bring Scotland’s profound and unique whisky culture to the Chinese consumer, especially the younger generation.” Also speaking when the deal was done, Liz Cameron, director and chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, commented: “This is a fantastic development especially in the current global economic crisis we are all facing with the coronavirus.

“Through our International Trade Partnership with the Scottish Government, this helped facilitate the unique trading relationship which has been formed between Inner Mongolia and Scotland enabling this fantastic contract to be signed.”


MORE than 35 tonnes of equipment, including stills, flooring, control valves and pipework, is heading from Buckie to the port of Tianjin. Some 1.3km of pipework provided by Forsyths will be included in the eventual distillery.

The equipment will then be transported to Ordos and be assembled on the new site. Forsyths is sending a team of five engineers to supervise the assembly operation and the Rothes-based company will have a team in Hong Kong to provide after-sales back-up and services.

Of course, all whiskies get their taste from their local water and recipe.

It will be interesting to see what Inner Mongolia comes up with, but Scotch is safe for now.