Woolf Sung enjoys whisky sales boost but warns over impact of Brexit-hit pound


Premium alcohol merchant Woolf Sung has toasted a jump in whisky sales, but said the firm may have to stop buying some fine wines as the Brexit-hit pound ramps up costs.

Founder and chief executive Sebastian Woolf said the business had been buoyed by significant growth in scotch sales and a strong demand for casks from independent bottlers in Scotland.

However, fine wine sales are down after the company ran out of stock and faced paying a higher import price for Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone as a result of sterling's slump. 

Speaking to the Press Association, Mr Woolf said the firm was on track to record double-digit growth next year, with turnover of £2.2 million for 2017 expected to rise between 20% and 40%. 

He said: "Each section (within the business) is performing slightly differently, because since the Brexit vote opportunities to buy in Europe have dropped off because of the pound-euro exchange rate changing. 

"Since the start of the year the areas that have grown significantly are scotch sales, the independent bourbons we are importing from the US and cask sales for independent bottlers from Scotland."

"Wines are down because we have sold out of all of our stock, but everything else is up," he added. 

"As a business I have just decided to stop buying Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone if I can't buy it at the right price."

Founded in 2012, Woolf Sung sells 95% of its fine wines and spirits to independent merchants, while a small amount is sold to wealthy private buyers.

The firm, which employs three staff at its site in London's Tavistock Street, sells some wines for tens of thousands of pounds and also operates as an agent to the world's most exclusive champagne brands, such as Boerl and Kroff. 

He said the champagne houses were aware of the "exchange rate pressures" and had helped him tackle the higher import costs so they did not have to hike prices. 

However, he expects the biggest wine merchants to put up the price of fine wine in the future. 

He added: "What will happen is that a lot of the bigger wine merchants, once their stocks deplete, they will have to put their price up. I think they will set a precedent then for Burgundy and Bordeaux trade."

It comes after the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said on Thursday that Brexit had pushed a bottle of wine to an all-time high and forecast further price rises on the horizon.

The average price of a bottle has risen more in the last 12 weeks than over the last two years, passing the £5.50 mark at the end of the last year to reach £5.56 now, according to the WSTA.