Scotch Whisky industry meets with Richard Lochhead MSP

22 May 2015

Collaboration between Scottish Government and Scotch Whisky industry is vital

Food Secretary Richard Lochhead has heard how a team of 'Scotch Whisky sleuths' can be involved in around 70 court cases at any one time fighting fake whisky producers.

He met with Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief executive David Frost and Scotch Whisky Research Institute (SWRI) director Dr James Brosnan at the SWRI this week to discuss how the two organisations, which are both independent bodies funded by the sector, work together to protect Scotch Whisky from fakes to the benefit of consumers, industry and the wider economy. They also looked at future opportunities and issues of relevance for the sector over the coming months.

SWRI's new director Dr James Brosnan gave Mr Lochhead a tour of the site which is a centre of scientific excellence dedicated to the needs of the distilled drinks industry, based in Heriot-Watt University's Research Park. Dr Brosnan explained the range of SWRI's work including its research into cereal sustainability, the science behind whisky flavours and spirit quality.

Dr James Brosnan, SWRI director, said: "This was an excellent opportunity to explain more about SWRI to the Cabinet Secretary. We are at the forefront of research into distilled spirits, primarily Scotch, meaning Scotland is a centre of excellence in this field. We can work with the Scottish Government in a number of areas, such as cereal sustainability, to the benefit of the entire economy."

A range of topics were discussed covering current opportunities and challenges for the industry and Scottish Government. These included export performance and collaboration, the Scotch Whisky industry supply chain, Scotland's Year of Food and Drink, Whisky month (May) and tourism and the industry's far-reaching Environmental Strategy.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: "Scotch Whisky is vital to the Scottish economy, contributing £3.3 billion in value each year, employing more than 10,000 people and spending £1.4bn annually on Scottish suppliers. It is important for us to work closely with the Scottish Government to sustain and build on this success and explore how we can help other sectors. We believe other food and drink sectors can benefit from our expertise in export markets, for example."

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment Richard Lochhead MSP said: "It was fascinating to hear that together, the Scotch Whisky Association and the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, can fight up to 70 court cases at one time to protect the industry against fakes. Every fake sold means one less bottle of genuine Scotch Whisky is purchased and it can have a detrimental impact on the reputation of the entire industry. Scotch Whisky is iconic and in demand all over the globe and it is hugely important to the Scottish economy, enjoying protected status from the EU and an unmatched international reputation coming from the home of whisky.

"In the last year alone six new distilleries opened up in Scotland, taking the total number of Single Malt distilleries across the country to 108. There are also about 30 distillery projects currently in the pipeline of various sizes, from existing companies to craft start-ups, which is very exciting for the sector.

"It was great to meet with James and David to discuss how we can all work closely to sustain the continued success of the industry, and I am looking forward to the next steps."