The family-owned company – which also distils Grant’s whisky, Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey and Hendrick’s Gin – confirmed in a statement sent to the BBC that it had made the donation (equivalent to $170,000) before insisting it supported the stance of trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) on the issue.
A spokesman for the pro-union camp Better Together told BeverageDaily.com: “We are delighted to have received this support. More and more companies, individuals and families are saying no thanks to separation.”
Officially, the SWA is sitting on the fence, but William Grant referred to a report the trade body released in early May citing the support that the whisky industry (worth £4.3bn in exports to the UK economy) gains from embassies worldwide and the lack of trade barriers within the EU due to UK membership of the bloc.
SWA talks up UK but stops short of outright support
However, the official supporter of independence – the SNP-backed Yes Scotland – insists that an independent Scotland could apply for membership of the EU in its own right, by negotiating entry ‘from within’ using Article 48 of the Treaties of the European Union .
Until now the SWA has stopped short of opposing Scottish independence from the rest of the UK, but in its 2013 Annual Review it does devote a page to explaining the benefits of a union.
David Frost, CEO, wrote in the review published on May 9 that 35,000 Scottish jobs depended on the industry and that the its success in recent years “is not a result of chance”.
“It has come about because of a wide range of factors that have been well provided for us within the UK and would need to be similarly provided in the future if it were to be within an independent Scotland,” he added.
At UK level the industry enjoyed certainty in its domestic business environment, Frost said, given to predictable fiscal and monetary policy management.
“We benefit from the fact that our domestic market is the sixth biggest economy in the world, large enough to support broad and balanced growth and provide a pool of relevant skills,” he said.
Even temporary EU absence would be ‘difficult and damaging’ – SWA
“In contrast, as of now, the nature of an independent Scotland’s currency remains unclear, and self-evidently this could affect our exports, management of supply chains, pricing and competitiveness,” Frost said.
A separate taxation regime would need to be developed, he added, while any regulatory divergences between Scotland the rest of the UK could increase business costs.
“In all these areas, we need further information and reassurance before we can assess whether we can mitigate these potential risks,” Frost said.
Moreover at EU level, the SWA chair warned that even temporary interruption of EU membership involving exclusion from the single market or customs union as a consequence of Scottish independence “would be damaging and difficult to manage”.
In sum, Frost said the SWA wanted reassurance on how an independent Scotland could “deliver a business, regulatory and export environment at least as supportive as that which the industry currently enjoys”.
Yes Scotland and William Grant & Sons did not respond to requests for comment.