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What effects will climate change have on Scotch whisky?

26/10/2021

In a recent research commissioned by Ian Macleod’s Glengoyne distillery, various dangers to Scotch whisky have been identified as a result of the continued warming of the environment.

Over the next fifty years, according to a study conducted by professor Mark Maslin and researcher Carole Roberts from University College London, anticipated temperature rises and changes in rainfall patterns would pose a danger to distillery production.

Global warming-induced heat and drought stress, according to the paper, “may have a significant influence on the quantity and quality of spring barley in Scotland.” According to Glengoyne, 800,000 tonnes of barley are required yearly in the manufacture of Scotch whiskey, and a decline in yield, such as that experienced in 2018, might “cost the industry up to £27 million per year.”

The study indicated that summer droughts will likely become more frequent as a result of a reduction in summer rainfall of up to 18 percent by 2080 and an increase in yearly temperature of 2 degrees Celsius.

According to the findings of the study, climate change in the next 50-100 years may also affect the flavour profile of whiskey in Scotland.  “Stages of its production, including malting, fermentation, distillation, and maturation, have all been developed to suit the temperate maritime climate of the area,” the research said. Warmer air and water temperatures, the report found, would all have the potential to lead to inefficient cooling in traditional distilleries, “creating challenges for conserving the character, consistency, and quality of the liquid”.

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