Coronavirus Forces Scotch Whisky Distilleries To Close Visitor Centers

The fact that the coronavirus is now truly a global pandemic is staggering to consider for a range of reasons. In the world of whisk(e)y, it impacts severely not only the economics of bars and restaurants as they close their doors to drinkers, but also in how it is sharply cutting into booming whisk(e)y tourism. We’ve already seen this as an increasing number of Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries shut their tasting rooms, and so it goes as well in Scotland with multiple closures there.

The Scotch Whisky Association, the trade group representing the Scotch whisky industry, has put up a page on its website showcasing which of its member distilleries have either closed or temporarily suspended tours due to the coronavirus outbreak. Looking across the list, which is being updated as more shut their doors, basically all major Scotch regions in Scotland are impacted, with the largest number as of the time of this posting occurring in the Highlands area.

“This is a rapidly changing situation,” noted Association officials in a prepared statement. “It is too early to assess at this stage what the impact on the Scotch Whisky industry will be. Despite some inevitable disruption to exports, global travel retail and tourism to distillery visitor centres, we remain confident in the long term growth opportunities for Scotch Whisky at home and abroad.

The GlenDronach Visitor Center

Part of the updated The GlenDronach Visitor Center (image via Brown-Forman)

“Our member companies are working with local authorities in the UK and in export markets to ensure we are playing our full role in helping to contain the virus in affected countries. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and share relevant guidance.

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“In specific circumstances, it may be necessary for industry sites, including visitor centres, to limit public access or close for a period of time.

“Most Scotch Whisky distillery visitor centres are located at the heart of the production process, with public tours having access to still houses, bottling halls and other areas vital to the ongoing production of Scotch Whisky.

“As ever, the health and wellbeing of our workforce, is paramount.”

As with the Kentucky distilleries, make sure to check ahead if you are thinking of visiting anytime in the near future.


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