Whisky Magazine Issue 8
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Handsome dividends could be in store for whisky drinkers and the Scotch industry, now Scotland has its own government.Tom Bruce-Gardyne reports
The southernmost distillery in Scotland is William Grant's at Girvan, in Ayrshire, 400 miles from where the British Parliament sits in the House of Commons in London. If Scotch whisky workers ever felt neglected by the Government, such a distance can hardly have helped. So when Scotland finally achieved devolution on 6 May 1998, the move was broadly welcomed. “The members of the new Scottish Parliament have to listen to us,” declared Ian Gourlay, managing director of Allied Distillers, “because they're on our doorstep and because whisky plays such an important role in the Scottish economy.”
To mark devolution, Allied Distillers unveiled an independent report by the Fraser of Allander Institute which highlighted how every part of the whisky industry is integral to Scotland. As Gourlay explained, “With Scotch you've got a production that comes from the grain off the field, right through the distilling process into maturation, through vatting and bottling into the warehouse and off for export.”
With 90 per cent of sales coming from overseas, whisky contributes £2 billion to the UK's balance of payments. This makes it one of the country's top five manufactured exports says the Scotch Whisky Association. Some 12,000 people work directly in the industry, the great majority of them in Scotland.
When you add the related employment, from the farms that grow the barley to the factories supplying the bottle tops, the total comes to 60,000. This may not seem a huge ...