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Issue 81 - Taking a stand

Whisky Magazine Issue 81
July 2009


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Taking a stand

The Scotch Whisky Association is one of the most powerful bodies in the whisky industry. But what does it actually do? Dominic Roskrow went to find out.

Venezuela is an important market but it's virtually impossible at the moment.

Hugo Chavez has a problem with Scotch whisky. We are trying to change attitudes but it is just one of many countries we are dealing with and you have to be realistic. You have to prioritise.” A pretty Georgian house in Edinburgh's Haymarket district isn't the sort of place you'd expect to find conversation about how to combat a South American Socialist president.

Nor for that matter would you expect to find the walls adorned with the communist symbols of the Chinese government. But number 20 Atholl Crescent is home to the Scotch Whisky Association and looks can be deceptive. Calm and sedate it might be on the outside but within it's a power house of quiet but intense international activity.

Normally Atholl Crescent is part of a tranquil leafy suburb comprising church spires, war memorials, and stylish period houses though for the next year or so it's also a major building site and any semblance of normality has been shattered by pneumatic drills and heavy machinery as the streets of the capital are ripped up and a new tram system is installed. The noise of the building work is constant and intrusive, and over recent weeks has made access to the Association difficult.

But the people who work here have dealt with the inconvenience in exactly the same way they have dealt with a myriad of world problems including feisty South American presidents, with stoic resolution and calm determination. You g...

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