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Dram fine way to do business

  • Date: Monday 3rd October 2016
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Our nation doesn’t have the best relationship with booze - there are plenty of NHS and police stats which will testify to that.

However, there is a positive flipside to this. While Scotland isn’t very good at handling its drink, it’s very good at making world-beating products.

It’s ironic then that the very thing which is marked out as being the source of many of the nation’s problems also has many raising a glass to its successes.

Recent figures show Scotland's food and drink sector as a whole has enjoyed a bumper year.

The industry currently employs around 34,000 people and is expected to create more than 14,000 new roles over the next five years. Total food and drink exports are now valued at an impressive £5.1bn.

Of course, propping up the bar for the drinks sector is the ‘water of life’ – whisky.

Scottish produce has a fantastic reputation on the international market – and none more so than whisky.

The industry had undergone a slight lull but this year saw the volume sold overseas increase for the first time since 2013.

An incredible 533 million bottles of Scotch were shifted to foreign shores in the first six months of 2016, amounting to a massive £1.7bn.

France and the USA are the biggest markets but there has also been a surge in sales to India and the rest of the European Union.

Part of this has been down to greater investment in craftsmanship in order to capitalise on the nation’s reputation as a producer of great whisky.

The industry is well aware of its provenance on the world stage – it just seems that for the first time in a long time we are prepared to shout about it.

The glass is definitely more than half-full for the sector as several expansions have been announced.

Plans have been unveiled for a new distillery on the Isle of Harris, while it was also revealed that single malt distilling could be making a return to Edinburgh after a 90-year absence.

The capital’s council has approved an application to transform the Engine Shed building at the foot Arthur’s Seat into a new Holyrood Park Distillery.

It’s hoped that work will begin this year with the facility opening in 2018, producing around 140,000 of mature single malt in eight to twelve years.

It’ll bring jobs too and is expected to employ around 25 people in various positions.

Given the perceptions of alcohol and alcohol abuse in Scotland, the industry does extremely well to promote all that is good and refined about its produce.

But some are going one step further than slick marketing campaigns – and making attempts to reposition their products all together.

Edinburgh distillery Pickering’s Gin is doing just that. Founders Marcus Pickering and Matt Gammell have set-up Good Spirits (Scotland).

Their brilliantly named Ginerosity spirit will pour its profits into projects which help and support under-privileged or disadvantaged young people.

The pair, who are working with bar owner Chris Thewlis and marketing guru Dave Mullen, said an independent panel would decide on where the funding will go.

What could be more diametrically opposite to a socially damaging booze culture than a social enterprise gin?

Cheers to the Scottish drinks industry.

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