Whisky industry halts sales to Russia

A growing number whisky producers have suspended sales and operations in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

Many major Scotch whisky producers have pulled out of the Russian market, including Diageo, Edrington and Chivas Brothers. Direct whisky exports to Russia amount to £28million a year.

A spokesperson for Johnnie Walker owner Diageo said: “Our priority is the safety of our people in Ukraine and the wider region. We have paused the export of our products to Ukraine and Russia while we focus on supporting our employees.”

A spokesperson for Macallan owner Edrington said: “Edrington has suspended all shipments to Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Our thoughts are with all those displaced and suffering as a result of this crisis.

“Through our charitable giving fund, we are committed to supporting our employees worldwide in their efforts to help international humanitarian charities.”

Pernod Ricard, owner of Chivas Brothers, also confirmed that it closed its offices in Ukraine “very early” after the invasion and suspended sales last week.

In a statement, the company said: “Our utmost priority is the safety of our colleagues and their families. This has been our focus from the very beginning.”

Bacardi, owner of whisky brands including Dewar’s, said: “Our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our people, especially those directly affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine. We are supporting our people in Ukraine with resources and services necessary during this time of great need.

“We have committed $US1million to Red Cross and Mercy Corps to support humanitarian efforts on the ground. Our donation will enable distribution of food, medicine, and other critical care items, along with first aid training, work to reunite separated families, emergency cash and other resources and networks to help those in need.

“In addition, we paused exports to Russia and froze advertising investments in the market.” 

A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected and displaced by the conflict. The welfare of industry employees working in Ukraine and Russia is paramount.”

Jim Beam stay at home

As for whiskey with an “e”, Jack Daniel’s producer Brown-Forman confirmed that it had suspended commercial operations in Russia.

The company said: “We watch in horror as millions of Ukrainians continue to face the sombre realities of war. Our thoughts are with them and all those who are full of fear and uncertainty, displaced and desiring refuge, suffering and seeking peace, or mourning and missing loved ones.

“We are staying in close contact with our Ukrainian colleagues, providing assistance and financial support to help them during this time of need.

“In addition, we are making donations to Unicef, UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees], and International Medical Corps, organisations aiding Ukrainian children and all refugees and offering medical assistance.”

Lawson Whiting, Brown-Forman’s President and Chief Executive Officer, told analysts last week that Russia was a top 10 market for the business and made up about 1% of its business worldwide.

Beam Suntory, which produces Jim Beam, has also suspended shipments to Russia. The company, together with the broader Suntory Group, has committed $600,000 to international charities working to address the humanitarian crisis. Beam Suntory said it will additionally match all employee donations.

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