'Brexit could boost whisky industry'
LEAVING the European Union could help the continued worldwide expansion of the Scottish Whisky industry.
That is the view of the man who's just been appointed the UK Government Minister for Scotland.
Colin Clark was in Keith this morning on a fact-finding mission at the recently renovated Strathisla Distillery.
Mr Clark said: "For years, British farmers have been given a poor deal by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, which is why we want to replace it with a fairer system of support after Brexit.
"As the Prime Minister has said, once we are out of the EU, we will have a historic opportunity to introduce new schemes to support farmers – and we will make sure that Scottish farmers get a better deal.
"We know that we need to protect the provenance and heritage of whisky and other iconic Scottish products. That is why we will be launching our own geographical indication scheme at the point at which EU rules cease to apply.
"Our amazing producers in the North East will be boosted as new markets are opened up. Once we are free to negotiate trade deals across the world, we will be able to capture the growing thirst for Scotch in countries like India, Singapore and Taiwan.
"This week I've had the chance to visit some key industry players in the North East.
"I've been to Angus Soft Fruits in Arbroath, the James Hutton Institute in Dundee as well as Strathisla.
"I met these great local businesses to hear first-hand their needs as we get ready to leave the EU on October 31, and discuss what we can do to boost their businesses after Brexit.
"Last year, 41 bottles of whisky were shipped from Scotland every second, with an export value of £4.7 billion.
"The UK Government recognises the importance of the North East’s farming and food industries, and we will protect and support them."
Strathisla Distillery is the oldest operating distillery in Speyside, founded in 1786.
Accompanying Mr Clark on his visit was Moray's MP, Douglas Ross.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Ross said: "Scotch Whisky continues to go from strength to strength and the important role it plays in communities across Moray cannot be understated.
"The particular challenges faced by the sector at present include the threat of retaliatory tariffs from the USA in response to EU aircraft subsidies.
"It was clear from Colin Clark how important this matter is for the UK Government and I know all departments at Westminster are aware of the issue and will work to avoid this at all costs.
"Strathisla Distillery is a great example of what many in the industry are doing to reinvest in their site.
"It's clear what a positive difference has been made at the distillery further enhancing the visitor experience for both local people and tourists from around the world."