LEADING figures across the sector have come together ahead of World Whisky Day on Saturday to underline their confidence in Scotland’s iconic whisky industry and the resilient spirit shown in response to the coronavirus.

They say everyone from whisky makers to festival organisers and marketeers who help put Scotch on the map has rallied together since the start of pandemic. Initiatives have included fundraising for the hospitality sector, hand sanitiser production and virtual tastings and events.

Whisky author and consultant Blair Bowman, who founded World Whisky Day, applauded the whisky community for the way it has continued to connect virtually and support the hard-hit hospitality sector. He said: “The support being offered by the major distillers to the on-trade in its time of need has been wonderful to see.

“Whether it be through donations to funds supporting hospitality workers or distillers sharing supplies with one another to make hand sanitiser, the global whisky industry has once again proven itself to be a phenomenally collaborative and supportive community.”

James Campbell, chairman of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, added: “What I’ve noticed in the industry is a collective sense of hope, resilience and a strong Scottish can-do attitude. We will adapt and move forward as best we can.

Dr Rachel Barrie, master blender for GlenDronach, BenRiach and Glenglassaugh distilleries said: “Our distilleries have rallied together with the rest of the industry to help produce gallons of hand sanitiser to help fight the spread of Covid-19.

“We’ve had to change the way things are done, adhering to a strict social distancing policy where minimal workers keep production ticking over.

“As we can’t currently engage face to face with people around the world or welcome them to our visitor centres, we’ve taken to our Instagram channels to help the whisky curious to experiment.

“We’ve tried to make this educational and engaging, so that people can enjoy learning a thing or two about how we make whisky with this extra time at home, as well as how to enjoy drinking it.”

Becky Paskin, whisky writer

and co-founder of OurWhisky, said: “For all its competing brands and companies,

the Scotch whisky industry has always remained

a tight-knit family.

“Now it’s pulling closer together still, and becoming more resourceful than ever.”

Richard Paterson, master distiller at Whyte & Mackay, said: “May is a time when we would normally welcome the world to Scotland, to festivals at our distilleries, and whisky festivals around the world.

“On World Whisky Day we hope we might perhaps be able to take a small moment to raise a glass to each other, and the people around us, who do so much to support

their communities.”