Edinburgh, Dec 17: The overflow of millions of gallons of seawater, caused by global warming, could wipe out some of the most famous names in the whisky industry, scientists have warned.
Coastal distilleries producing a range of internationally famous brands such as Bowmore, Laphroaig, Talisker and Glenmorangie are at risk from storms and encroaching waves, said Dr. Jim Hansom, of Glasgow University's Department of Geographical and Earth Science. All the evidence suggests that sea levels are starting to rise. All the distilleries that are based on the coast, including a lot of world-famous names, are potentially in danger of flooding," The Scotsman quoted Hansom, as saying.
"People think climate change will be good for Scotland because we'll get warmer summers, but they haven't thought through all the other consequences," Hansom, an adviser to the Government-funded conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage, added.
He believes that the consequences of rising tides could be seen within 20 years, and added that the impact will be worst in the Inner Hebrides and Orkney, as well as on coastal mainland distilleries such Glenmorangie at Tain and Balblair in Ross-shire.
"In the worst-case scenario, they will have to relocate distilleries to higher ground. In other cases they might have to move warehouses where whisky is maturing in a sort of phased withdrawal," he said.
"My main objective is to alert coastal distilleries to the fact that they will face problems in the future and they need to think
about it now. Creating coastal management plans now could save them lots of money in the future," Hansom said.
Scottish Government figures released earlier this year showed that 100,000 homes and businesses in Scotland are considered to be at risk of flooding. The majority of the properties – 73,000 private homes and 5,000 commercial premises – are inland and close to rivers that could burst their banks.
Another 18,000 are properties around the coast that are vulnerable to rising tides.
Hansom's sentiments were echoed by Dr Toby Sherwin, reader in physical oceanography at the Scottish Association for Marine Science.
"The worst case long-term scenario would see sea levels rising by 60cm. That should be a real concern for the owners of the low-lying, sea-level distilleries, and they should start thinking about what strategies they should adopt now."
Dave Broom, an expert on the national drink and contributing editor to Whisky Magazine, added: "There is no doubt that the whisky industry will be directly affected by climate change."