Farmers call for chance to produce all Whisky barley requirements

Richard Lochhead -
Richard Lochhead – need for ‘high quality’ Scottish barley

A farming leader has called on whisky industry leaders to give Scottish farmers a chance to meet their additional requirements for barley.

The comments of Allan Bowie, the president of the National Farmers Union, comes after it was revealed distilleries are importing barley from Holland for use in whisky production.

Dutch farmers have already signed up to a pilot project that will see a shortfall in locally produced barley being met by increased production in Holland.

However, Mr Bowie insists that given the opportunity Scottish producers can increase their output to meet any additional requirements and is calling in distillers to give them that opportunity.

He said: “What I don’t like to hear is contracts will be reduced here and companies will just source barley from Holland, England or Germany or wherever.

“Our position is that we should be trying to use as much Scottish barley as possible in Scotch whisky – when you buy a bottle of whisky it is not just the distilling you’re buying, it’s everything behind it.

“We need about 1.2million tonnes of barley every year for distilling in Scotland and this Dutch project is only producing about 2000 tonnes – the issue is, does it undermine the story of Scotch whisky?”

In his role as rural affairs minister, Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead agreed that the industry needed to ensure supplies of “high quality Scottish barley” that met the demands of the industry.

He said: “Scotch whisky is in demand all over the globe and is hugely important to the Scottish economy, enjoying EU protected status.

“It is important that farming, malting and whisky industries work together to strengthen the Scottish economy.”