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Brown-Forman closes visitor centres over coronavirus

Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman has temporarily suspended all tours, tastings and shops across its distilleries due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman has temporarily suspended tours and tastings across its visitor centres

Brown-Forman’s BenRiach, Glen Glassaugh, Sonoma Cutrer, Slane and Brown-Forman cooperage closed on 13 March.

The group’s Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, GlenDronach and Herradura sites closed on 15 March.

However, Brown-Forman stressed that production would continue uninterrupted at this time. It also said existing reservations due to take place before these dates would be honoured, and any tickets purchased during this time would be refundable.

A statement from Brown-Forman said: “To help prevent the spread of covid-19 (coronavirus), Brown-Forman is temporarily suspending tours, tastings and retail shops at all of its cooperage, distillery and winery locations.

“Our goal is to minimise the risk to employees and guests to help lower the probability of the spread of the virus to our employees, their families and the communities where we operate. These closures will remain in place until the health emergency subsides.

“We appreciated the understanding of all those who are impacted and encourage all to put their health and safety first.”

Heaven Hill Brands

Evan Williams Bourbon maker Heaven Hill Brands has temporarily suspended tours and retail sales at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown, Kentucky, US, due to concerns

Heaven Hill’s portfolio includes Evan Williams

regarding coronavirus. It has also suspended all tours and retail sales at its Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Louisville.

Heaven Hill said it would continue to assess the public health situation and will reopen at a future date, but this is yet to be determined.

“Heaven Hill is taking this measure as a safeguard to protect its employees and guests and the action comes in the wake of recommendations by federal and state health officials and by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association to take all necessary precautions to help reduce the potential spread of coronavirus (covid-19),” a statement said. “All previously scheduled tours will be refunded – visitors with questions please visit for contact information.”

Heaven Hill said there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus at any Heaven Hill facility and that it has not impacted production.

The statement from Heaven Hill concluded: “Heaven Hill is committed to protecting the health and safety of its most valuable asset, the employees, and is taking this mitigating action to support broader initiatives across the Commonwealth and ensure general public safety.

“Through the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and state health department, Heaven Hill will continue to update health and safety protocols as necessary.”

The Macallan and Highland Park

Edrington, which owns Scotch whisky distilleries The Macallan and Highland Park, has also closed its distillery visitor centre experiences in response to the “evolving coronavirus situation”.

All booked tours will be fully refunded and visitor centre employees will continue to be paid for the period that the experiences are closed.

A statement from Edrington said: “The health and safety of Edrington’s people and our guests is of paramount importance to us as we respond to the evolving coronavirus situation.

“For that reason, we have taken the decision to close our distillery visitor experiences at The Macallan Estate and Highland Park until further notice. In addition to safeguarding our visitor experience employees and guests, the decision to close will also protect the operations staff, who continue to work as normal within our distilleries.

“We would like to thank all our people for their patience and professionalism during this unprecedented time.”

The impact of coronavirus has also been felt by leading drinks firms Diageo and Pernod Ricard. Johnnie Walker owner Diageo has already cut its full‐year 2020 profit forecast by up to £200 million (US$260m) as a result of empty bars and restaurants in China.

Meanwhile, French firm Pernod Ricard expects the outbreak will have a “severe” impact on its China and travel retail business. Alexandre Ricard, CEO of Pernod Ricard, said it is too early to tell how coronavirus would impact the group.

Other distilleries that have also temporarily closed their visitor centres include Glenfiddich and Balvenie in Scotland, and Jameson and Teeling in Scotland.

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