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Issue 31 - Keepers of the Faith (Scotch Whisky Association)

Whisky Magazine Issue 31
June 2003


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Keepers of the Faith (Scotch Whisky Association)

Gavin D. Smith looks at the work of the Scotch Whisky Association, fighting the corner for the water of life

We're all familiar with newspaper statements attributed to the Scotch Whisky Association regarding the disproportionate level of duty imposed on Scotch by the British government. However, while taxation is a key issue for the SWA, the industry's trade association is about much more besides.

Founded in 1917 in London as The Whisky Association, the organisation gained its present title in 1942, and, appropriately, the newly-formed Scotch Whisky Association moved its head office north to Edinburgh, where it is still located. The Association's director of government and consumer affairs is Edinburgh-born Campbell Evans, who joined the SWA in 1991 and was based in London for two years before returning to his native city and the SWA's grand Atholl Crescent offices.

“We have 37 staff, two of whom are based in our London office, but I'm in London working for at least one day a week, four weeks out of five,” says Evans. Inevitably, when much of the SWA's work involves taxation and government legislation, proximity to Westminster is an asset.

The Scotch Whisky Association currently has 55 members, the number having fallen as consolidation has taken place within the industry. According to Campbell Evans, members come from the ranks of “distillers, bottlers, blenders and brokers. In fact, 98 per cent of anybody who does anything with whisky.” The Association is funded entirely by members' subscriptions, and is governed by a council of 16, whose role is to give a voice to the s...

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