Vladmir Putin and his cronies have got up to some dastardly things in the last few years, ranging from Novichok poisonings to the annexation of Crimea, before finally launching the full-scale invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
Facing a raft of sanctions in response, the Russian leader has now hatched a plan to overcome one embargo that is clearly being felt keenly in the Kremlin: the ban on Scotch whisky exports.
According to the Daily Record, Putin has approved a deal for ‘parallel imports’ of whisky to take place, enabling goods to be smuggled into the country without the manufacturer or licence holder knowing. This will include brands like Bell’s, Johnnie Walker and Macallan, Black & White, White Horse, Lagavulin, Bowmore, Aberlour and Auchentoshan.
These brands were all readily available in Russia before the invasion, so their absence is clearly being keenly felt.
It is perhaps worth musing that this means cask whisky investment is something you can do while all those super-rich oligarchs can’t even get their hands on a single bottle of it just now.
Putin’s plan is to try to get the whisky and other goods subject to bans into Russia via those nations still trading openly with them, including China, India and Turkey.
Of course, the wider impact of the war, especially on global oil and gas prices as well as the agricultural products Ukraine contributes so much to, has hit the world economy badly. But while there may be much trouble and turbulence now, the long-term prospects for whisky remain strong.
Indeed, Marketwatch has published a study highlighting the projected growth of the malt whisky market, predicting major expansion in the next six years.
By 2028, one hopes, Putin will be long gone and its incursion into Ukraine both repelled and consigned to the history books. Come that time, it could that be Russia is under new leadership and able to buy whisky legitimately. But it will be in a global market for Scotch that is poised to go from strength to strength.