What would Scottish independence mean for the Scotch whisky industry?

What would Scottish independence mean for the Scotch whisky industry?

The trade body for the Scotch whisky industry has called for “clarity” ahead of the independence referendum in Scotland later this year, with three major whisky producers declining to join either the 'yes' or 'no' camp.

A vote will take place in Scotland on 18 September for residents to choose whether the country should become independent from the United Kingdom. The Scotch Whisky Association has said that some of its questions remain unanswered with just over six months to go to the referendum.

“We are asking for clarity from both governments so that we can weigh up the likely impact on the Scotch whisky industry,” a spokesperson for the organisation said today (27 February). “Questions for governments to address include membership of the EU/World Trade Organisation and Scotland’s future overseas representation, currency, governmental structures, and financial/economic architecture.”

When asked for a view on the vote itself, the spokesperson said. “The Scotch Whisky Association is an apolitical body and we have a neutral stance on the independence referendum.”

Earlier today, Scottish financial firm Standard Life and the Royal Bank of Scotland both voiced concerns about a pro-independent vote.

Diageo, which is the largest producer of Scotch, declined to comment on the outcome of the vote. “Diageo respects the democratic right of the Scottish people to decide upon the constitutional future of the country,” a spokesperson said. “There are still many questions to be answered in relation to the implications of potential constitutional change.

“We will be monitoring the debate closely to assess how such change might affect our business.”

Pernod Ricard, which owns the Chivas Regal and Ballantine's Scotch brands, would also not be drawn on the matter, referring to the head of the Chivas Brothers unit, Laurent Lacassagne, when he said last week: "We do not think we are in the best position as a French company to express a view on the vote itself.”

A spokesperson for William Grant & Sons said: “We will pass on this one.”