Offbeat Will Brexit and Donald Trump's Taxes Sink Scotland's Oldest Distillery?
Scottish distillery looks to history to lift spirits
It has survived world wars, Prohibition and The Great Depression but this may very well be the toughest time yet for Scotland's oldest whisky maker. The Glenturret Distillery, located on the banks of the River Turret two miles (3.2 kilometres) northwest of the town of Crieff, was established in 1763 and is a popular stop for whisky enthusiasts. Apart from the rushing river and a distiller rolling oak barrels into a filling house, The Glenturret, which closed to visitors during the Covid-19 lockdown, is eerily quiet.Travel restrictions that came with the pandemic have caused sales to fall at the distillery, in pubs and restaurants, and at airport duty-free shops.
The Glenturret distillery, in central Scotland, is severely suffering from restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, but above all from the 25% tariffs imposed by the United States since 2019 on scotch and the current slowdown of exports to Europe after Brexit!
Brexit, Covid-19 pandemic, trade war imposed by Donald Trump ... If it survived two world wars, prohibition and the Great Depression, Scotland's oldest distillery, created in 1763, is being severely damaged test. The Glenturret Distillery, in the center of, is a popular spot for whiskey lovers. But aside from the tumult of the nearby Turret River and the sound of the distiller rolling oak barrels, the venue, which has closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is unusually quiet.
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Restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic have brought down sales of whiskey from the distillery, pubs and restaurants and duty-free stores at airports. But it's the 25% tariffs imposed by the United States since 2019 on theand the current slowdown in that are doing the most damage. “It's a very difficult time for us,” says Distillery General Manager John Laurie. "The Covid is affecting tourism, Brexit has hurt exports and the tariffs on Scotch whiskey in America have really created problems."
The departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the effects of which were fully felt at the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, resulted in an increase in the formalities necessary for exporting to the continent . On its site, the distillery warns that it has suspended deliveries to the EU and is trying to resolve these problems. "We have a strong demand in Europe and we want to try to meet it, and when we want we can, so we will find a way to get through this difficult period", wants to believe Mr. Laurie.
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The problems encountered by The Glenturret illustrate those experienced by the entire Scotch whiskey industry. According to the Scotch Whiskey Association (SWA), representative of the sector, in February, global scotch exports fell from more than 1.1 billion pounds (1.3 billion euros) to 3.8 billion pounds in 2020. Exports to the EU in particular plummeted by more than 15% to 1.25 billion pounds sterling in 2020. And that's without counting the impact, not yet measured, of the effects of the, felt after the end of the transition period.
The American surcharges were imposed in the context of the dispute between the European Union and the United States on subsidies granted to Airbus and Boeing . Before the imposition of these punitive tariffs, the US market was valued at £ 1.06 billion for Scotch whiskey. In 2020, it fell by a third. For SWA Managing Director Karen Betts, these figures represent "a grim reminder" of the challenges facing the Scotch whiskey industry, which directly employs some 10,000 people. "The sector has lost 10 years of growth in 2020 and it will take time to regain a position of strength," she warned after the publication of the figures for the sector in February. The SWA regrets the "intransigence" of the British, European and American leaders who led to these surcharges and calls on them to end a trade war with which the scotch industry "has nothing to do".
Caught in this difficult patch, the Glenturret distillery can draw inspiration from its past to overcome the crisis. "We went through prohibition in America, wars, (...) and we survived", recalls Mr. Laurie, in an optimistic tone. "Our industry is incredibly old and resilient and we are fortunate to have a product that people around the world appreciate, so while the times are extremely tough, we know we're going to get there."
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