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Coronavirus

Coronavirus
The latest updates from the Scotch Whisky industry on the current coronavirus outbreak, including information on distillery visitor centre closures and our hand-sanitiser portal

Hand sanitiser from distilleries

We are gathering information to connect distillers who can produce high-strength ethanol and/or hand sanitiser with packagers, distributors, and organisations who are in need of hand sanitiser. 

Click here to complete our online portal and tell us what you need, or what you can supply. 


Mentoring support for businesses reopening

As many tourism and hospitality businesses prepare to re-open under the Scottish Government’s phased re-start plan, we want to share the Scotch Whisky industry’s experience and expertise to help safely get the economy back up and running.

After all, this is the way our industry has operated for centuries – a little bit of #CommunitySpirit goes a long way.

Use this form to be connected with a mentor in your area.


Updates to this page are ongoing as the situation progresses. Please check back here for our latest statements, and information on Scotch Whisky distillery closures.

SWA statement (last updated July 2020) 

 “The health and wellbeing of the Scotch Whisky industry’s employees is our primary concern. As a result, the industry significantly scaled-back operations in order to protect the safety of our workforce during the COVID-19 crisis. As we look towards the economic recovery, all sites that are operating have strict social distancing in place to protect employees, in compliance with Food Standards Scotland and Scottish Government guidance. All companies have consulted employees and union representatives on the measures taken to ensure social distancing at sites, to ensure their support for and confidence in the measures and their implementation. The industry continues to have detailed discussions with the Scottish Government, including about how we can work with them and other stakeholders to ensure that production can be safely scaled back up, and on our industry’s contribution across Scotland’s economy and for the production of hand sanitiser and ethanol to support health services during the crisis.  

 “The outlook for our sector, as for many others, is uncertain. The collapse of global hospitality, tourism and travel retail sectors is a very real concern and in Q1 2020 global exports were down 17%. Exports in Q2, which will take into account lockdown periods in Europe and North America, are also likely to show a significant fall.  

 "However, as the UK moves into recovery, the industry will work hard to regain our strength in markets globally as countries continue to lift restrictions put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19. In doing so, it will be critical to us to have the support of government in keeping trade flowing. We recently welcomed the announcements from the UK and Scottish governments on the reopening of on-trade businesses across the UK, the revival of which is crucial for our own industry’s recovery. 

 “Scotch Whisky companies are working with hospitality businesses to help them put social distancing measures in place in compliance with government guidance through our Community Mentor Gateway, sharing the best practice that we have developed working with our partners in the hospitality industry across our global markets." 

On hand-sanitiser production: 

 “The industry continues to support frontline health services, emergency services, local communities and other industries with the provision of hand sanitiser and ethanol for medical purposes. A number of companies are either manufacturing hand sanitiser on-site or providing high strength ethanol to other manufacturers. 

 “In the early stages of the UK outbreak of Covid-19, the SWA launched an online portal which helps distillers to source necessary ingredients and organisations in need of sanitiser to specify their requirements. Those who can support with packaging and distribution can also state on the portal how they can assist. The portal has now been live for almost four months, and the response from across the UK and overseas has been overwhelming. Over 170 organisations have submitted their details, and we have received a great deal of positive feedback from both users and government.” 

 “The latest figures show pledges via the SWA Hand Sanitiser portal totalling more than 1.4m litres of ethanol a week, enough to produce over 12m 500ml bottles of hand sanitiser a month. This is in addition to the hand sanitiser that many distilleries are producing to meet local needs in their communities.” 

On tourism re-start date:

 “Tourism is a vital industry for Scotland, and it’s been one of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus.  Scotch Whisky tourism is an important part of this, with more than 2 million visitors now coming to our distillery visitor centres around Scotland every year. We have a very direct interest in how tourism recovers – for our companies, since many smaller distilleries rely on tourism for over half of their income, and also for the hotels, restaurants, pubs and other attractions that whisky distilleries work alongside locally.   

 “We are very conscious too that businesses in the sector employ many talented young people and also provide flexible careers for those who need them, and we want to do everything we can to ensure that these vital jobs are protected through the crisis. 

 “The Scottish government’s announcement that tourism businesses can prepare to re-open on 15th July was very welcome. Many of our members are now working towards a restart of their tours, subject to what works for their business, their employees and their location. The SWA continues to provide support to member companies, and is working closely with government, others across the hospitality and tourism sector and local communities to revive the summer season, which will be vital to the survival of many – in particular, smaller – businesses.  The right protocols will need to be in place to ensure it’s viable for businesses to reopen while giving assurances to staff and consumers. Given the challenges, however, further support to businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector may still be necessary. 

 “The Scotch Whisky industry is keen to play its part in providing those operating in the tourism and hospitality sectors guidance as they look towards reopening. The SWA recently launched a Community Mentor Gateway aimed at connecting businesses with individuals in the Scotch Whisky industry, who can provide mentoring support and advice on a range of topics, including health and safety, risk assessments and staff communications. In doing so, we hope that we can help to utilise our industry’s extensive expertise to boost businesses’ confidence in reopening and work towards a safe, responsible recovery of the hospitality and tourism sectors.” 

Useful links

Related releases

Scotch Whisky Industry Seeks Clarity on Business Support (23rd March)

New Portal Launched to Help Scotch Whisky Industry Supply Hand Sanitiser (25th March)

Hand Sanitiser Portal sees Huge Demand One Month On (22nd April)

SWA welcomes the reopening of hospitality and tourism in Scotland, and of pubs and bars in England (June 2020)

SWA welcomes Chancellor's additional measures to support business (8th July)



Support for the hospitality industry

Companies have been demonstrating their support for the people and businesses in the on-trade/hospitality sector in many ways:

  • Keeping bartenders and mixologists front and centre with recipe creation, brand consulting, and social media content
  • Flexibility on size of orders, allowing smaller customers in the on-trade to manage their inventory more effectively
  • Establishing specific funds to support payment of wages and contributions to industry-based charities
  • Delivery of wellbeing packs, containing essential store cupboard items, to on-trade staff facing uncertainty
  • Free online training and support for on-trade staff

Hand Sanitiser Portal

The online portal set up by the SWA to connect distillers with frontline health services and other organisations in need of hand sanitiser or ethanol for medical purposes, has seen more than 170 submissions over two months.

Pledges via the SWA Hand Sanitiser portal now total more than 1.4m litres of ethanol a week, enough to produce over 12m 500ml bottles of hand sanitiser a month.

Scottish Government Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee said:

“Our health and care system is facing unprecedented demand, so it’s tremendous to see so many step up to support the national response to COVID-19 and I’d like to thank the Scotch Whisky Association and its members for their continued efforts to protect those working in frontline services and local communities. The online portal is a creative way to bring together Scottish distillers and organisations seeking supplies. We are grateful to everyone involved in this work to deliver what is needed, when it is needed.”


Details of Scotch Whisky distillery visitor centres which are closed or have temporarily suspended tours due to the coronavirus outbreak are listed below. If you know of a distillery visitor centre which has amended their tour policy but is not listed here, please contact info@swa.org.uk 

Please note that the SWA cannot assist with rebooking or cancelling a prebooked tour - you will need to contact the distillery individually who can advise what to do next. Links to distillery websites are provided below.

Some distilleries not listed here may have precautionary measures in place for any visitors to their sites. For the avoidance of doubt, please check directly with any distillery or visitor centre before you visit.

For general information about visiting Scotland, please check the VisitScotland website.

Hand-Sanitiser Portal

A form to help Scotch Whisky producers connect with related industry suppliers to provide high-strength alcohol and/or produce hand-sanitiser to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus news & commentary

08 July 2020

SWA on the Chancellor's Summer Economic Update

The Scotch Whisky Association has responded to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Summer Economic Update, saying the measures will help support businesses to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

24 June 2020

SWA welcomes announcement on reopening of tourism and hospitality in Scotland

11 June 2020

SWA welcomes re-start date for Scottish tourism

The Scottish government has announced that Scottish tourism businesses can prepare to re-open from 15th July.

03 June 2020

SWA writes to Scottish Government Economic Advisory Group

The SWA has written to Benny Higgins, Chair of the Scottish Government's Economic Advisory Group

22 April 2020

SWA Sees Huge Demand for Hand Sanitiser One Month on from Portal Launch

An online Portal connecting Scotch Whisky distillers making ethanol and hand sanitiser with organisations in need of it during COVID-19 has seen over 130 registrations in just three weeks.

25 March 2020

New Portal Launched to Help Scotch Whisky Industry Supply Hand Sanitiser

The Scotch Whisky Association has launched an important tool for companies to help meet the demand of organisations that need supplies of hand sanitiser.

23 March 2020

Scotch Whisky Industry Seeks Clarity on Business Support

The Scotch Whisky industry is seeking urgent assurances from Ministers on aspects of the government's business support package, announced last week as a result of the economic disruption being caused by COVID-19.

Coronavirus pages

Mentoring Gateway

The SWA Mentoring Gateway helps to provide guidance on restarting a business after covid for tourism and hospitality companies in Scotland, from a bank of Scotch Whisky company mentors.