AS the coronavirus infection rate has surged in recent days, resulting in further restrictions being placed on the Scottish hospitality trade, there has emerged a clutch of stories that give hope to one of Scotland’s most important industries.

Scotch whisky distillers are often celebrated for the long-term approach they apply to their craft, and evidence of that patience has once more come to the fore in recent days.

It should be acknowledged that this trait is driven to some extent by the wait distillers are required to observe for their famous liquid to mature (in fact, spirit distilled in Scotland must be matured in oak casks for a minimum of three years before it can legally be sold as Scotch).

But that willingness to look beyond the next reporting quarter has proven to bring long-term benefits to employment and businesses in Scotland, as illustrated by the many enduring and successful names in the Scotch whisky industry.

And, despite the daily challenges imposed by coronavirus, there is still no shortage of distillers around Scotland which are continuing to plan for future generations.

We have covered some of their stories on these pages in recent days. The Wemyss family, a well-known name on the Scottish business scene for many decades, has prepared for the future growth of its various whisky and gin distilling interests by unifying them under a single trading entity.

This was not a move to bring an immediate, financial boost, director William Wemyss explained, but to reflect the family’s long-term commitment to the industry, to which it has been connected since the turn of the 19th century. Coronavirus will not alter that fact.

As such, Wemyss Malts (the family’s vintage blended Scotch business), Darnley’s Gin and the Kingsbarns Distillery will now operate under the Wemyss Family Spirits parent company.

“We felt this change better reflected what we do and who we are,” Mr Wemyss said. “Our commitment to crafting interesting spirits is absolute and we are excited about what the future holds.”

The Wemyss family is not alone in the Scotch whisky industry in taking steps to grow and future-proof its business.

The new owner of The Glenturret Distillery in Perthshire has been putting the building blocks in place to write a new chapter in the story of what is believed to be the oldest working distillery in Scotland, dating back to 1763.

The Glenturret was acquired from Edrington in late 2018 by French luxury goods company Lalique which would appear to know the value of long-term strategic thinking. The Lalique brand that gives the company its name can trace its roots back to 1888, with its creation in Paris by the master glassmaker and jewellery designer Rene Lalique.

The Glenturret has had an eventful history, certainly in the last 50 years or so as it changed hands various times, and in more recent decades has been in the shadow of The Famous Grouse, which staged its well-known whisky tour under that brand in the Crieff distillery.

Now, free from those shackles and with a new owner that has seen the value in The Glenturret’s rich heritage, a new beginning is now in full swing for the single malt.

Moreover, those plans have progressed in recent months despite the challenges posed by the pandemic (meetings with international distributors have been taking place virtually in recent months) as well as the political upheaval arising from Brexit and US import tariffs on single malt Scotch whisky.

There is certainly no sense of Lalique being in this for a quick buck.

When asked whether Lalique would be interested in acquiring further Scotch whisky distilleries, John Laurie, managing director of The Glenturret, replied: “Certainly not immediately. There is a great deal of passion [going] into The Glenturret just now. They want to do this and do it well.”

Admittedly, it is perhaps easier for Scotch whisky companies to take a long-term view than businesses in other sectors.

Whisky has established an enviable reputation throughout the world and is seen as an aspirational product by emerging middle classes in many countries.

The spread of its footprint often means downturns in some markets are offset by growth in others, a situation that is especially helpful when it comes to the pandemic, given that some countries (notably in the Far East) appear to be getting to grips with the crisis better than others.

History has shown that the industry has proved able to endure major cyclical ups and downs, from the difficult “whisky loch” days of the 1980s to the financial crisis around a decade ago.

And distillers have the opportunity to sell their product to people for consumption in the home, either online or via shops, which has certainly helped distillers offset the restrictions placed on hospitality outlets and duty-free travel shops under efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus.

These are all big advantages that the whisky industry has over some other sectors, particularly those, notably hospitality, live music, events and the arts, which have seen their ability to trade severely restricted by the pandemic.

Yet there are other examples of companies in industries beyond distilling that are biting the bullet and investing for the long term, in spite of the pressures exerted by coronavirus.

These include GAP Group, the Glasgow-based plant, tool and equipment hire business, which The Herald reported last week had invested £10 million in its hire fleet in the last six months. And GAP signalled its hope that demand would enable greater capital expenditure in the second half of the financial year.

GAP, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019, has benefited over the years by the long-term thinking displayed by its family owners, an approach that has seen the company successfully diversify into new areas of business.

Of course, trying to plan for the future is extremely difficult when faced with a pandemic that continues to restrict our normal way of life.

Coronavirus, though, will not be here forever. Indeed, while the collective mood remains one of gloom as case numbers rise, we could be just a few months away from a vaccine being rolled out.

It is vital, therefore, that businesses are sufficiently supported in the coming months, by government, banks and investors.

This is essential not just to help them survive and protect jobs, but to ensure they are ready to capitalise when the crisis eventually passes.