With Scotland’s historic independence referendum just weeks away, the business implications are increasingly in focus.
Whisky is a major Scottish export and the country’s producers are voicing concern about unanswered questions like what currency an independent Scotland would use, and whether it would stay in the European Union.
As whiskey takes years to mature to a saleable state, planning without that knowledge is a problem as Carl Reavey of the Bruichladdich Distillery pointed out: “Whisky is an industry which depends on very long-term thinking. Investment programmes take decades to come to fruition, and companies need to be able to plan in a hard-nosed, commercial sense for what that means to them over those kinds of timescales.”
Currently the British government heavily promotes whisky through its extensive network of foreign embassies.
An independent Scotland would not have the same resources which worries the trade body the Scotch Whisky Association as spokesman David Williams explained: “How will Scotch whisky be supported overseas? The Scottish government talks of an embassy network of up to 90 around the world. At the moment we have got embassies through the UK in over 150 markets, which do great work supporting us.”
And that is important given that whisky is Scotland’s third biggest industry and accounts for a quarter of Britain’s entire food and drink exports, with nine out of 10 bottles sold overseas.
The Scotch Whisky Association is careful to point out that it is not taking sides in the referendum campaign and its members will work with whoever is in power.
But one major whisky distiller has already voted with its wallet.
Family owned business William Grant and Sons – which produces Glenfiddich – has donated what was called a “substantial sum” to the Better Together campaign which is against Scottish independence.
That was reported to be 100,000 pounds (125,000 euros).
with AP and Reuters