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Because this column is titled A Wee Dram, it gives me license to write about exactly that, and particularly so after spending some time in my home country, sampling local craft beers and visiting various distilleries. The Scotch whisky industry is thought to be worth about £5bn a year to the British economy, with 80% of that value being exported. About 40,000 jobs across the value chain rely on the amber nectar and 7,000 of those jobs are in the very sparsely populated Highlands of Scotland. Along with tourism, agriculture and fishing, these sectors are the lifeblood of this far northern region, without which further depopulation would be inevitable. Having visited and savoured the output from three excellent northeastern Highland distilleries — Glenmorangie, Balblair and Dalmore — I began wondering who or what is the force behind this huge industry. Surprisingly, only about a quarter of all Scotch whisky producers in Scotland are Scottish owned. London-listed Diageo is the main pro...

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