Last night (Tuesday December 3), I attended a tasting of Balblair vintages. We tasted five whiskies, 2003, 1997, 1990, 1983 and 1969, prefaced by a glass of Balblair’s base spirit.
The company said the site in Onitsha, South Eastern Nigeria is its first ‘greenfield’ brewing facility to be built in the country.
Work began on the Onitsha site in 2011 following an investment of over US$100 million, making it the largest single investment in Anambra State for almost 20 years.
According to SAB Miller, the communities in Onitsha and surrounding towns "stand to benefit significantly through the creation of employment and through indirect commercially-related activities and support services. Immediate direct job creation will see 180 local people employed, with that number increasing to approximately 450 as production volumes grow".
Local raw materials such as sorghum and maize will be used 'where possible'.
The brewery will commence production of beer and malt with an annual capacity of up to 500,000 hectolitres. The initial brand to be brewed will be newly launched Hero Lager, followed by other brands including Trophy Lager, Grand Lager and non-alcoholic malt beverages Grand Malt and Beta Malt.
Mark Bowman, managing director of SABMiller Africa, said: “Over the past five years we have invested over US$1 billion in Africa. Today’s opening is an indication of our commitment to increase our capacity further and to consolidate our position on the continent whilst contributing positively to the local communities in which we operate.”
SAB first entered the market in 2009 through its strategic alliance with Castel. Nigeria is Africa’s second largest beer market and is growing at around 6% per annum, according to SAB. However, average per capita consumption is still relatively low at around 10 litres per year compared to an average of around 60 litres in Africa’s largest beer market, South Africa. SAB Miller’s portfolio of brands in Nigeria includes Grand Lager, Trophy Lager, Castle Milk Stout, Castle Lager, Eagle and Redds.
His excellency Dr.Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, president of The Federal Republic of Nigeria is to officially open the site.