The plight of the whisky industry after a slump in exports has led to fresh calls for more UK Government support for Scotland’s national drink.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes highlighted the impacts of Brexit, US tariffs and the coronavirus pandemic.
It comes after the Scotch Whisky Association reported exports of whisky fell by more than £1.1 billion, or 23%, last year.
In a letter to Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary George Eustice, Mr Ewing called for Brexit-related issues – such as delays to exports, additional certification and complications of the Northern Ireland Protocol – to be addressed urgently.
Mr Ewing said: “It’s been a particularly difficult year for Scotland’s food and drink sector.
“A once-booming whisky industry has seen overseas exports drop by 23% in the last year alone.
“The whisky industry was already reeling from the triple threat of US import tariffs, the coronavirus pandemic slowing global demand and a complicated alcohol duty system before Brexit compounded matters.”
He added: “Like many food and drink businesses, the sector is struggling with complicated bureaucracy post-Brexit and it is vital that such issues are resolved as soon as possible.
“I have written to the UK Government urging them to address the problems and will do my utmost to help one of Scotland’s greatest food and drink success stories get through this challenging time.”
Ms Forbes has also written to the UK Government ahead of the Budget, urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to take “immediate steps” to support the industry, including reforms to the alcohol duty system.