Producers Unite to Say ‘Don’t Destroy Scotland’s Drinks Industry’

Scores of Scotland’s most iconic distilleries and brewers have united to call on the Scottish Government to abandon proposals to ban the marketing of the nation’s globally celebrated whiskies, beers, and gins.

A coalition of over 100 producers and brands active in Scotland are calling for the immediate shelving of alcohol marketing proposals recently unveiled by the Scottish Government. These include banning distillery and brewery shops from selling branded merchandise to visitors; banning drinks industry funding of sports and cultural events such as rugby, football, arts festivals, and live music; removing drinks branding from pub umbrellas and glassware; and even a ban on the promotion of low and zero-alcohol products.

In an unprecedented display of concern and opposition, drinks producers from all over Scotland sent an open letter to the Scottish Government, saying “Don’t destroy Scotland’s drinks industry”.

In an impassioned plea to Holyrood ministers, the producers shared the following letter:

Don’t Destroy Scotland’s Drinks Industry

Plans unveiled by the Scottish Government to introduce a blanket ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship could not have come at a worse time for our sector, and the many thousands we employ.

Such a ban will harm Scotland’s alcohol distillers and brewers, who are an integral component of ‘Brand Scotland’ with no clear evidence to justify such a move. Restricting the ability to promote and market products responsibly will remove a vital route to market and go against the Scottish Government’s vision to double the turnover of the food and drink sector by 2030.

A further unintended consequence of these proposals would be the blocking of a key source of vital funds to Scotland’s sports and arts & culture sectors, at a time when they can least afford this. This will also disproportionately impact Scottish businesses, with global brands remaining able to engage with major international sport teams and events, which carry prominence in Scotland and in many cases the broadcast coverage accompanying it.

Scotland has a long and proud heritage of brewing and distilling the very finest drinks in the world. Our whiskies, beers, gins and other products are enjoyed and sought after across the globe – iconic exports which in turn drive our economy here at home.

Scotland’s brewers and distillers together provide employment to 88,700 people and contribute £6.1 billion (GVA) to Scotland’s economy annually.

Our sector suffered hard through the Covid years but proved its resilience as it has so many times before. Today, in a cost-of-living crisis that is placing unbearable strain on our customers, the Scottish drinks industry is once again facing a challenge which threatens the very existence of many of its members. At times like these, we urgently need the support of our government and elected representatives.

We recognise and share in the Scottish Government’s determination to reduce harmful consumption of alcohol and agree that there will be further workable steps the alcohol industry can take to help. However, these proposals will not serve to achieve this and do not address the root cause of why someone might come to have a harmful relationship with alcohol. Instead, they will needlessly hold our country back, to the detriment of Scottish jobs.

With the support of brewers and distillers across Scotland and the UK, we urge the Scottish Government to listen to our concerns regarding the significant impact these measures will have not only on the alcohol industry, but on the thousands of families it supports, but wider Scottish society too.