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The latest updates from the Scotch Whisky industry on the current coronavirus outbreak, including information on our hand-sanitiser portal, and how the industry is supporting local communities.

Hand sanitiser from distilleries

We are gathering information to connect distillers who can produce high-strength ethanol and/or hand sanitiser with packagers, distributors, and organisations who are in need of hand sanitiser. 

Click here to complete our online portal and tell us what you need, or what you can supply. 

Mentoring support for businesses reopening

As many tourism and hospitality businesses in Scotland continue to re-open in the second half of 2020, we want to share the Scotch Whisky industry’s experience and expertise to help safely get the economy back up and running.

After all, this is the way our industry has operated for centuries – a little bit of #CommunitySpirit goes a long way.

Use this form to be connected with a mentor in your area.

Updates to this page are ongoing as the situation progresses. Please check back here for our latest statements, and information on Scotch Whisky distillery closures.

SWA statement on COVID-19

“The health and wellbeing of the Scotch Whisky industry’s employees continues to be our primary concern. As a result, industry operations remain below capacity in order to protect the safety of our workforce, in compliance with Food Standards Scotland and Scottish Government guidance and in consultation with employees and unions. Many organisations in the industry continue to produce significant volumes of hand sanitiser and ethanol to support health and other services during the crisis.

“The outlook for our sector, as for many others, is uncertain. The collapse of global hospitality, tourism and travel retail sectors is a very real concern. H1 exports, which take into account lockdown periods in Europe and North America, are showing a significant fall of around 30% worldwide.

"Recovery will depend on a variety of factors - the success of public health measures in absence of a vaccine, the impact of economic policies and support measures, the easing of lockdowns in global markets, and how quickly international travel, hospitality and consumer confidence rebounds. Despite the challenges, the industry will continue to work to regain our strength globally, and in doing so it will be critical to us to have the support of government in keeping trade flowing. Our industry is also committed to supporting the safe, responsible reopening of on-trade businesses across the UK, which is crucial for our own industry’s recovery. Scotch Whisky companies continue to work with hospitality businesses to help them put social distancing measures in place in compliance with government guidance through our Community Mentor Gateway, sharing the best practice that we have developed working with our partners in the hospitality industry across our global markets.

“Scotch Whisky is well-known and well-loved by consumers all over the world.  We’re confident that Scotch will remain resilient through the crisis and we hope to emerge stronger and more popular than ever.”


On tourism

“Tourism is a vital industry for Scotland, and it’s been one of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus.  Scotch Whisky tourism is an important part of this, with more than 2 million visitors now coming to our distillery visitor centres around Scotland every year. We have a very direct interest in how tourism recovers – for our companies, since many smaller distilleries rely on tourism for over half of their income, and also for the hotels, restaurants, pubs and other attractions that whisky distilleries work alongside locally.

“We are very conscious too that businesses in the sector employ many talented young people and also provide flexible careers for those who need them, and we want to do everything we can to ensure that these vital jobs are protected through the crisis.

“This summer, following the Scottish government’s welcome announcement that tourism businesses could reopen in July, a number of distillery visitor centres have reopened to the public, with more putting plans in place to reopen in the future. Reopening to visitors remains at the discretion of individual distilleries, subject to what works for their business, their employees and their location. The SWA continues to provide support to member companies, and is working closely with government, others across the hospitality and tourism sector and local communities to welcome visitors back safely. With the support of VisitScotland and many of our member companies, the SWA has compiled practical guidance for visitor centres to give assurances to staff and consumers that measures are in place to continue to keep them safe. Given the challenges, however, further support to businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector may still be necessary.

“The Scotch Whisky industry is keen to play its part in providing those operating in the tourism and hospitality sectors guidance as they look towards reopening. In June, the SWA launched a Community Mentor Gateway aimed at connecting businesses with individuals in the Scotch Whisky industry, who can provide mentoring support and advice on a range of topics, including health and safety, risk assessments and staff communications. In doing so, we want to share our industry’s extensive expertise to boost business confidence in reopening and work towards a safe, responsible recovery of the hospitality and tourism sectors.”

Details of Scotch Whisky distillery visitor centres which have published their plans to reopen can now be found on our Tours, Trails and Tourism page, along with recommendations for exploring safely.


On hand sanitiser production

“The industry continues to support frontline health services, emergency services, local communities and other industries with the provision of hand sanitiser and ethanol for medical purposes. A number of companies are either manufacturing hand sanitiser on-site or providing high strength ethanol to other manufacturers.

“In March the SWA launched an online portal which helps distillers to source necessary ingredients and organisations in need of sanitiser to specify their requirements. Those who can support with packaging and distribution can also state on the portal how they can assist. The portal has now been live for over six months, and the response from across the UK and overseas, particularly in the early stages of the UK outbreak of Covid-19, has been overwhelming. Over 170 organisations have submitted their details, and we have received a great deal of positive feedback from both users and government.

“At the peak of demand, our figures show that pledges via the SWA Hand Sanitiser portal totalled more than 1.4m litres of ethanol a week, enough to produce over 12m 500ml bottles of hand sanitiser a month. This is in addition to the hand sanitiser that many distilleries have been producing to meet local needs in their communities.”


Useful links

Related releases

Scotch Whisky Industry Seeks Clarity on Business Support (23rd March)

New Portal Launched to Help Scotch Whisky Industry Supply Hand Sanitiser (25th March)

Hand Sanitiser Portal sees Huge Demand One Month On (22nd April)

SWA welcomes the reopening of hospitality and tourism in Scotland, and of pubs and bars in England (June 2020)

SWA welcomes Chancellor's additional measures to support business (8th July)

Support for the hospitality industry

Companies have been demonstrating their support for the people and businesses in the on-trade/hospitality sector in many ways:

  • Keeping bartenders and mixologists front and centre with recipe creation, brand consulting, and social media content
  • Flexibility on size of orders, allowing smaller customers in the on-trade to manage their inventory more effectively
  • Establishing specific funds to support payment of wages and contributions to industry-based charities
  • Delivery of wellbeing packs, containing essential store cupboard items, to on-trade staff facing uncertainty
  • Free online training and support for on-trade staff

Hand Sanitiser Portal

The online portal set up by the SWA to connect distillers with frontline health services and other organisations in need of hand sanitiser or ethanol for medical purposes, has seen more than 170 submissions over two months.

Pledges via the SWA Hand Sanitiser portal now total more than 1.4m litres of ethanol a week, enough to produce over 12m 500ml bottles of hand sanitiser a month.

Scottish Government Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee said:

“Our health and care system is facing unprecedented demand, so it’s tremendous to see so many step up to support the national response to COVID-19 and I’d like to thank the Scotch Whisky Association and its members for their continued efforts to protect those working in frontline services and local communities. The online portal is a creative way to bring together Scottish distillers and organisations seeking supplies. We are grateful to everyone involved in this work to deliver what is needed, when it is needed.”

Hand-Sanitiser Portal

A form to help Scotch Whisky producers connect with related industry suppliers to provide high-strength alcohol and/or produce hand-sanitiser to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus news & commentary

15 July 2021

Helping Hospitality: an update on the donations made to hospitality charities in Scotland

We checked in with the two charities in Scotland who each received a donation of £25,000 last year on behalf of the Scotch Whisky industry.

16 March 2021

SWA comments on timeline announced by Scottish Government

28 December 2020

Scotch Whisky Distillers Pledge £50,000 to Support Hospitality Workers Hit by Covid Impact

The Scotch Whisky industry has donated £50,000 to two hospitality charities - The BEN and HIT Scotland - to help support on-trade workers hit by the impact of COVID-19.

09 October 2020

SWA welcomes new COVID-19 support package

07 October 2020

SWA comment on today's announcement on hospitality measures

03 June 2020

SWA writes to Scottish Government Economic Advisory Group

The SWA has written to Benny Higgins, Chair of the Scottish Government's Economic Advisory Group

22 April 2020

SWA Sees Huge Demand for Hand Sanitiser One Month on from Portal Launch

An online Portal connecting Scotch Whisky distillers making ethanol and hand sanitiser with organisations in need of it during COVID-19 has seen over 130 registrations in just three weeks.

25 March 2020

New Portal Launched to Help Scotch Whisky Industry Supply Hand Sanitiser

The Scotch Whisky Association has launched an important tool for companies to help meet the demand of organisations that need supplies of hand sanitiser.

23 March 2020

Scotch Whisky Industry Seeks Clarity on Business Support

The Scotch Whisky industry is seeking urgent assurances from Ministers on aspects of the government's business support package, announced last week as a result of the economic disruption being caused by COVID-19.

Coronavirus pages

Mentoring Gateway

The SWA Mentoring Gateway helps to provide guidance on restarting a business after covid for tourism and hospitality companies in Scotland, from a bank of Scotch Whisky company mentors.