Europe’s two largest whisky producing nations are on shut down as The Beast from the East sweeps across from Russia at the same time storm Emma hits from the West.
The British media is referring to the extreme weather conditions to hit Europe as The Beast from the East. A split in the polar vortex has sent freezing weather from the Arctic, heading south before blowing across from Russia. The continent is currently covered in snow and experiencing unusually low temperatures, reported having reached -27°C / -17F in the German Alps.
In Ireland, they are also preparing for storm Emma to hit them from the Atlantic. The whole country has been issued with a red weather warning as people are urged to stay indoors. The worst is expected to be over a full twenty-four hours period that will see buildings and businesses closed, including distilleries.
Across Scotland, distilleries are keeping their doors closed to visitors. The highland distillery of Royal Lochnagar, near Balmoral, Aberdeenshire is just one to announce a notice to visitors saying: “Due to adverse weather conditions the visitor center will be closed today. We apologize for any inconvenience”.
Near Glasgow, the bond and bottling hall of Beam Suntory was closed as staff was told to stay at home.
Auchentoshan Distillery mashman Colin O’Hara said: “Our distillery closed yesterday and we’re out of production until further notice. More for safety than anything else”.
When distilleries have their stills fired up the high temperatures would make it difficult for them to freeze but other pipes around the distillery are still exposed to low temperatures, which can cause severe damage.
Colin said: “When production is on the place usually runs fine. The problems start when we stop and go to start up again, pipes freeze up and we need to thaw them out. We have things to prevent this from happening so much, such as trace heating on pipes and lagging, also most lines have a drain valve, so any liquid can be drained out, which helps.”
So, until the Beast from the East leaves it may be best to light a fire, pour a peaty whisky and sit back.