Scotch – collaboration in a glass

08 Aug 2016

Without collaboration, the Scotch Whisky industry wouldn't be the global success story it is today.

Working together lies at the heart of Scotch Whisky. Think about it the next time you enjoy a glass of Blended Scotch - in that glass there could be a marriage of around 50 different malt and grain whiskies. I can't conceive a better way to illustrate the benefits of sharing resources.

So I was delighted to be asked to speak on 'cross sectoral collaboration' at the launch of the Innovation Academy in Glasgow. It has been established in Scotland to give professionals and young entrepreneurs access to a creative mix of courses to help them succeed in a changing environment.

I explained to the audience in Glasgow's Citizen M hotel how Scotch Whisky relies on collaboration and innovation, working closely with its supply chain from farmers to packagers. Scotch has been around for more than 500 years and as an industry it knows better than most how to evolve through the centuries to remain the leading international spirit drink.

The focus of my talk was the Scotch Whisky Industry Environmental Strategy. Launched in 2009, this award-winning initiative remains the only one of its type that covers an entire sector. While it is managed by the Scotch Whisky Association, it belongs to the industry and relies on collaboration between producers.

This collaboration is clearly working. The use of non-fossil fuels, for example, has grown to almost 20% from 3% in 2008 and only 2% of waste now goes to landfill, down from 13%. Without the buy-in of others, such as glass manufacturers who understand the industry's need for lighter-weight, recycled materials, it wouldn't be possible to deliver the strategy.

Working together has achieved such great results that we're in the process of refreshing the strategy to make it even more ambitious.

My presentation generated many questions from the audience who were impressed by the amount of collaboration involved in Scotch Whisky.

On the day it was also insightful to hear from Siobhan Jordan of Interface on unusual partnerships, such as a cake manufacturer adapting technology developed for the defence industry, and Paul Macalinden, conductor and author, who had delegates working in teams to build towers made of sugar cubes  - all in the in the interest of collaboration, of course.

Rosemary Gallagher, SWA head of communications