The news that Diageo is to invest £1 billion over the next five years in the Scotch Whisky industry is very welcome and a strong indication of the company’s belief in the bright future of the sector.
The investment in new distilleries and warehousing capacity is a vivid illustration of the positive and optimistic outlook for demand from across the world. Last year alone, exports broke new records, increasing in value by 23% to £4.23bn.
The Scottish Government recognises the key role of the Scotch Whisky industry in our Food and Drink strategy and we will work constructively with Diageo to take forward their investment plans in Scotland.
To top this off, this afternoonI welcomed ten of the world’s leading Master Whisky Blenders to Scotland during the first International Spirits Challenge to be hosted here. The Challenge is one of the most authoritative and influential spirits competitions in the world and has been held annually in London for the past seventeen years, until now.
The world-class judging panel, which is made-up of experts from Japan, Sweden, the USA, Scotland and Ireland, has gathered at Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky Experience to blind taste and score 300 individual whiskies from distilleries across the globe.
Visitors can even catch a glimpse of these connoisseurs at work as the judging is streamed via a live webcam linked directly to the Whisky Shop.
Scotch whisky is an important part of our culture and identity and has a wide role to play in attracting visitors from across the world. With such positive indications I’m sure it will continue to do so for years to come.