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Could Brexit put the Scotch Whisky industry over a barrel?

Could Brexit put the Scotch Whisky industry over a barrel?
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It’s known as the ‘Whisky Isle’.

With nine working distilleries, the small Scottish island of Islay is a big player in the global drinks industry. It is home to the peatiest of whiskies such as the smoky Lagavulin and the medicinal Laphroaig.

“Scotch whisky is big business. In 2017, exports totalled more than five billion euros. That’s more than a fifth of all of Britain’s food and drink exports taken together. And the industry also supports 40,000 jobs," Euronews' Damon Embling reported from Islay.

“But with Brexit looming, there are worries that a no-deal outcome could hit hard - affecting supply, prices and legal protections.”

'Frustrating' times

Allan Logan is a fourth-generation whisky worker. He is in charge of production at Bruichladdich.

“We are concerned about any changes in legislation that’s going to happen, that will potentially either delay or cost more money to our business," said Alan.

"Right now, it’s more frustrating that we’re this far to the deadline and we still don’t have a decision.”

The distillery has survived family feuds, recessions, World Wars. But could Brexit break it?

“We are seen as a luxury brand and I think that has given us confidence that globally our products will survive," Alan told Euronews. "The Scotch whisky industry has a strength I think that will overcome it eventually. You know, it’s just going to take time.”

'We don’t know what’s around the corner'

Distilleries have already had to diversify, offering tastings and tours.

And while the whisky industry in general has been damning of Brexit, some hope it could bring new opportunities, life fresh trade deals.

“We don’t know what’s around the corner," said Alan. "But we’re confident that the stocks we’re making will be available for the next generation. I’m hoping my son will come into the whisky industry and he will adopt the whisky that we’re making today.”

Whisky’s described as the ‘water of life.’ It’s lifeblood of Islay’s economy. A centuries-old industry that’s determined to ride out Brexit, whatever hangover it may leave.