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Whisky Advocate: Scotch Producers Brace For Brexit’s Final Act

November 23, 2020

2020 has pummeled businesses around the world, and the Scotch whisky industry is no exception. Adding to the onslaught of challenges caused by COVID-19 are the Brexit negotiations, which are now entering their final stages. As the clock ticks toward the end of the transition period on Dec. 31, there’s little certainty about what Britain’s departure from the European Union will mean.

For its part, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has made its position clear. “UK and EU negotiators should intensify discussions to deliver a deal that allows for zero tariffs on all goods, protects UK and EU geographical indications, and puts in place governance structures to limit any new barriers to trade from forming,” an SWA spokesperson said in a statement to Whisky Advocate. “It’s a race against time for businesses to receive all the technical guidance they need.”

While it remains to be seen whether the SWA will have its way, scotch producers do see one certainty: The transition will cost money. “There’s no doubt that Brexit in any form will raise costs for our business, and all Scotch whisky businesses, due to new labeling requirements and paperwork,” says Compass Box Whisky Co. founder John Glaser.

David Keir, sales and marketing director at the GlenAllachie Distillers Co., says the unpredictability is hitting the bottom line. “It’s one thing knowing what to plan for and another thing planning for uncertainties,” he explains. “But we need to ensure that we’re fully prepared, and that’s costing money and eating up labor hours.” Whisky Advocate has more.—Zak Kostro

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