Spain is among the largest wine producers in the world, with the country’s wine having experienced a huge metamorphosis over recent decades to becoming a symbol of Spanish gastronomy and quality of life. The industry has also become an important driver of sustainable tourism, with many wine-producing regions such as Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Toro or Bierzo becoming prominent destinations for visitors from all over the world.

Scotland has experienced a similar success story with scotch whisky, an industry that accounts for more than 40,000 jobs. There are more than 130 malt whisky traditional distilleries, many of them located in legendary regions such as Islay, Iona or the Highlands and with producers ranging from small family businesses to huge multinationals. A network of hotels, restaurants, shops and tasting venues has flourished around whisky production, being visited by roughly 2 million people in 2018.

Whisky and wine are vastly different alcoholic drinks but share the same unmistakable nature. Departing from a millenary tradition, they have become an experience and a culture in themselves. It is with this in mind that the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the UK in collaboration with the Spanish Consulate in Edinburgh invites you to join us for a dialogue between José Luis Lapuente, General Manager of the Control Board of the Designation of Origen Calificada Rioja and Martin Bell, Deputy Director of the Scotch Whisky Association. They will speak about their organisations’ history, the current market situation, their plans for the future and their strategies to cope with the pandemic uncertainty.  There will also be time for you to ask any questions that you may have directly to either of the speakers.

Date: Thursday 12th November, 10:30-11:45am (UK time)


About the speakers:

José Luis Lapuente has held the position of General Manager in the Control Board of the Designation of Origin Calificada Rioja since 2013, having been Secretary General of the institution since since 1998. Before joining the Board he worked in financial management in a group of Rioja wineries and previously he held the responsibilities of Budget Director and Controller in the pharmaceutical and consumer and goods sectors. He has responsibilities in the Board of Trustees of the Spanish Wine Market Observatory Foundation, in the Board of Directors of the Technological Platform of Wine and in the Spanish Conference of Wine Regulatory Boards. Jose Luis also frequently speaks publically on multiple forums related to the wine business and holds a Bachelor of Law and Economics and Business Administration by prestigious ICADE – U.P. Comillas.

Martin Bell joined the Scotch Whisky Association in 2004 and has specialised in external trade policy throughout, with a particular geographic focus on the Asia-Pacific region.  He leads the SWA’s engagement with the World Trade Organisation and has extensive experience of its standing mechanisms, up to and including dispute settlement  He has chaired the External Trade Committee of spiritsEUROPE since 2010 and sits on a wide range of broader industry trade policy groupings, such as the ICC UK’s Trade and Investment Committee and the Law Society of Scotland’s Trade Policy Working Group. After starting working life as a solicitor in private practice, and a subsequent spell with the European Commission’s DG Environment in Brussels, he joined the Scottish Office in 1997.  He worked there for seven years in a range of fields, latterly on a three year secondment to the Policy Unit of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.

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