Scotch's trade winds turn stormy

Distillery worker

The mast and sails haven't been ripped off the good ship Scotch Whisky amid stormy trade winds, but after a decade of sterling export performance, she looks ready for a major overhaul.

The fall in total exports last year, published by the Scotch Whisky Association, won't come as a surprise to anyone who has been watching the big distillers publish their financial figures in recent months.

As I explained when Diageo put out its numbers for the back end of last year, the market leader has done exceptionally well out of clever marketing, hitting the sweet spot of aspirational middle class consumers in emerging economies who want to buy international luxury goods.

But progress is proving bumpy and tricky. The seemingly endless India-EU trade talks still protect the world's largest whisky market behind a 150% tariff barrier.

China offered so much potential, and it still does. But for now, Scotch has got on the wrong side of official disapproval of extravagant gifting, particularly if it looks like corruption.

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New losses at Ibrox, new people to blame

Ibrox Stadium
The Three Bears are allies of fellow shareholder Dave King

Since the last time Rangers splashed its financial red ink in public, there's been yet another change of management at Ibrox.

And as there's another loss, and more bad news associated with it, the new chairman, Paul Murray, is stressing how disappointed he is by the mess he's been left.

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Heated politics of Longannet going cold

Longannet Power Station
The closure of Longannet is almost certain to be brought forward to next March

Longannet power station is a bit of a monster. At 2,400 megawatts capacity, the huge plant on the banks of the Forth can keep the lights on for most of Scotland.

Recently, it's been sweating its 42-year-old sinews to do so, particularly when the wind drops and all those turbines stop supplying the power grid.

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Links with London

BA planes at Heathrow
The Airports Commission is examining the short, medium and long-term future of UK airport capacity

Having sold off Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports, the owners of Heathrow have now decided they want to woo Scotland.

The company seems to care much more about links between them than it did in olden times. That was less than three years ago, when they were part of one group, as a legacy of the state-owned British Airports Authority.

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Drilling for votes, distilling the recovery

George Osborne visiting an oil rig in the North Sea

The oil industry got what it wanted from George Osborne's pre-election Budget, and a bit more. So will it work?

Well, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) says the tax cut of £1.3bn should lead to a 15% boost to production by the end of this decade. That's after a steep fall in recent years levelled out last year.

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Incomers, income and outgoings

Chinese food

I've been working quite a lot on the subject of immigration into Scotland. And so have BBC colleagues.

We've had more than 180 minutes of radio on the subject and more than 90 minutes of Welcome to Scotland? television, plus at least 10 online articles.

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Scotland's sticky finances

Scottish piggy bank

Scotland is running at a loss. And you'd be forgiven for also being at a loss about the conflicting use of statistics over just how much it's in the red, or how badly.

You can emphasise that tax paid in Scotland, and from its offshore oil and gas, was £400 per head more than the UK figure, during the last financial year, 2013-14.

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Immigration: more or less?

polish food

Should we be surprised that nearly two-thirds of Scottish voters want to see immigration reduced?

That's according to the YouGov poll for BBC Scotland, the first part of which is being published today. The survey found only 5% of the 1,100 Scottish sample want to see immigration increased.

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Energy burners take the high road

An oil rig and boat at sunset

It's obvious. If the oil price falls, oil users gain, and oil producers lose out.

Scotland has plenty people work in oil production, and its supply chain. It has more people who don't. Or at least, more of the economy buys oil than sells it.

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Scotland's shifting media landscape

Sunday Herald

Newspapers have been notoriously poor at adapting to a hugely disrupted market.

They can handle competitors. They've adjusted to radio and TV. But few saw what the internet would do to them.

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