Leading lights across the Scotch sector have come together for World Whisky Day (Saturday 16th May) to affirm their confidence in Scotland’s iconic whisky industry, and resilient spirit demonstrated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Everyone from whisky makers to festival organisers and marketeers behind putting Scotch on the map has rallied together since the start of the pandemic. Initiatives have included fundraising drives for the hospitality sector, making hand sanitiser and holding virtual tastings and events.
Whisky author and consultant Blair Bowman, who founded World Whisky Day, has applauded the whisky community for how it has continued to connect virtually and support the hard-hit hospitality sector in its time of need.
He said: “The support being offered by the major distillers to the on-trade in its time of need has been wonderful to see.
Whether it be through charitable donations to funds supporting hospitality workers or distillers sharing supplies with one another to make hand sanitiser, the global whisky industry has once again proven itself to be a phenomenally collaborative and supportive community.
“For me, whisky is ultimately more about the shared experience than the contents of the glass. So, when we are able to come together and raise a dram once more, I’m sure it will be a very special experience. It is something we can all look forward to.”
James Campbell, chairman of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, added: “In the whisky industry, what I’ve noticed is a collective sense of hope, resilience and a strong Scottish can-do attitude.
We will adapt and move forward as best we can. Our whisky distilleries will reopen, glasses will be raised to good health and visitors will return to visit globally significant whisky regions such as Speyside and experience the very best of hospitality Scots are renowned for.”
Dr Rachel Barrie, Master Blender for GlenDronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh distilleries said: “Our three distilleries, GlenDronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh, have rallied together with the rest of the industry to help produce gallons of hand sanitiser to help fight the spread of COVID-19. We’ve had to change the way things are done, adhering to a strict social distancing policy where minimal workers are keeping production ticking over.
“As we can’t currently engage face to face with people around the world or welcome them to our visitor centres, we’ve taken to our Instagram channels to help the curious whisky experiment. We’ve tried to make this educational and engaging so that people can enjoy learning a thing or two about how we make whisky with this extra time at home, as well as how to enjoy drinking it!
“When restrictions are lifted, and it is safe to do so, we look forward to being able to welcome people back to our distilleries to experience and learn about the wonder of whisky-making.”
Becky Paskin, a whisky writer and co-founder of OurWhisky, said: “For all its competing brands and companies, the Scotch whisky industry has always remained a tight-knit family.
Now in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s pulling closer together still, and becoming more resourceful than ever.
“Producers have been joining forces to deliver live virtual tastings and support their local communities with hand sanitiser and financial aid. Meanwhile, festivals have moved from the distillery to the living room, enabling whisky lovers to discover new drams and friends. We may all be socially distanced, but a globally shared love of whisky has ironically brought us closer together.
“Creativity and collaboration have always been at the heart of the Scotch whisky industry, and it’s this sense of perseverance and unity that will see it through.”
Richard Paterson, the master distiller at Whyte & Mackay, said: ‘May is a time when we would normally welcome the world to Scotland, to festivals at our whisky distilleries, and whisky festivals around the world. Whilst it is a difficult time for all of us, we look forward to the day when we can welcome you here once more.”
“World Whisky Day is a day where we hope we may perhaps be able to take a small moment to raise a glass to each other, and the people around us, who do so much to support their community.”
World Whisky Day is a global day of whisky celebration that will take place on Saturday 16th May. For more information, please visit worldwhiskyday.com.
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