Thursday, 17 September 2009

Gibson questions Diageo policy

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has warned against the diminution of Highlands and Islands distilleries and producers by the practices of Diageo PLC.

Mr Gibson's warning came during a debate in Parliament.

He highlighted the potential problems facing the whisky industry in the North as well as that of barley farmers. That a new style of business shown by Diageo in the Kilmarnock and Port Dundas closures could inflict.

In the debate Mr Gibson challenged Diageo to commit to the heritage of whisky.….

"Mega-distilleries could replacing the diverse regional nature of our iconic whisky industry. Diageo has to be asked what positive legacy it will leave for Scotland. Is what is good for the Diageo business model also good for Scotland? What level of value of their whisky business will be retained in Scotland?"

He also said he was concerned that Diageo had created a 'flavour map to categories whisky tastes rather than the traditional regional category'.

He said….

"Scotland wishes to retain the regional nature of whisky production. We do not wish to be left with a bad taste in the mouth from Diageo business decisions."

Earlier in the debate Mr Gibson questioned what Diageo's priorities were for distilling in Scotland.

He also quoted a letter from Foulis farmer Hector Munro in which he stated that barley surpluses has been as high as they had been in recent times. With no geographical protection for Scottish barley (which is a key component in whisky) his business is in doubt. Rob said…

"We need to take account of the way in which Diageo's demand for product affect people such as our barley farmers and the communities supporting small distilleries."

After the debate Mr Gibson said…

"Diageo has to commit to the heritage and complete process of whisky production in Scotland. It has to show loyalty to those that help deliver this world famous brand. In the Highlands and Islands whisky plays an important part in community, heritage and way of life. It cannot be put at risk by sweeping changes which Diageo seem to starting. It would be criminal if a company were to preside over the loss of quality and coverage and world standing. Even worse to in act changes which put viable communites at risk."


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