Scots MEP Strikes Blow In "Skullsplitter" Row

14 October 2008
Alyn Smith SNP MEP for Scotland and Vice President of the European Parliament's Beer Club, has written to the Chief Executive of the Portman Group outlining his distaste for the recent complaint lodged against Orkney based Sinclair Breweries about their world renowned 'Skull Splitter' ale.

Smith has lent his support to the brewery ahead of a crunch meeting in London tomorrow (15th October) to discuss the ruling.

Management consultancy firm PIPC were commissioned by the Portman Group to carry out an independent audit to measure compliance of drinks packaging with the code of practice, and they identified Skull Splitter as being in potential breach of Code rule 3.2b. The reason they provided was:

"The name "Skull Splitter" implies both violence and also the impact the strength may have on the drinker. Additionally there is a picture which could be seen to reinforce the aggressive theme."

Smith said:

"The Portman Group needs to prove that self regulation of the drinks industry works, and personally I would like to see more action on the big brewers and irresponsible drinks promotions than trying to knock off a small brewer like Sinclair.

"This is a quality ale, not a cheap low quality cider or alco pop that is being targeted at the youth of Scotland. The Norse references are clearly harking back to genuine historical fact, and evoke images of Orkney's rich Viking heritage, and add to the beer's marketability. The idea that they could encourage violence is plain daft.

"Mr Norman Sinclair, the Managing Director of Sinclair Breweries has built a solid reputation for his products over the past 20 years, with sales extending all over the globe as a real export earner for Scotland.

"There is plenty for the Portman Group to be doing, working with the Scots government in tackling irresponsible drinking, much of it at the behest of the big drinks companies themselves. For the Portman Group to crack down on a small independent Scottish brewer on these grounds would be challengeable under umpteen EU laws and I hope they see sense."