View Full Version : Orkney Brewery's 'Skull Splitter Ale' Could Be Banned in the UK by PC Authorities

Monday, September 22nd, 2008, 02:11 PM


The Orkney Brewery has mounted a vigorous defence of its award winning Skull Splitter ale, which could be withdrawn from sale in the UK following a report claiming its Viking branded bottles had an "aggressive" theme.

The report, by management consultancy PIPC, was commissioned by controversial drinks marketing watchdog, the Portman Group, to investigate compliance with an industry code of practice on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcohol.

Skull Splitter, an 8.5% ale created over 20 years ago and sold internationally, was singled out in the PIPC report because "it's name implies violence and also the impact the strength may have on the drinker".

The report claimed that, potentially, Skull Splitter was in breach of the drinks industry's code and the Portman Group will meet later in the year to consider what action, if any, it may take against the Orkney Brewery. That action could include an instruction to UK retailers not to stock the ale.

Fearing one of its longest established and most popular ales could be withdrawn from sale in the UK, the brewery has now launched a campaign to save Skull Splitter, a former Champion Winter Ale of Britain.

Already commended for leading the way with efforts to increase awareness of sensible drinking, the brewery - set to undergo a major redevelopment - has repeatedly stressed to the Portman Group that the ale is in fact named after Thorfinn Hausakluif, the Seventh Viking Earl of Orkney - nicknamed "Skull Splitter".

Orkney Brewery's parent company, Sinclair Breweries Ltd, is mustering support for its case ahead of the final decision by the Portman Group.

Norman Sinclair, managing director of Sinclair Breweries Ltd, said: "We're completely stunned by the hard line the Portman Group has taken with Skullsplitter. When they first raised their concerns with us on the back of the PIPC report we fully explained the historical background to the name and, as responsible brewers, we were happy to try and work with them to find a solution. Indeed, we've cooperated with them every step of the way but it's apparently got us nowhere.

"Again and again we have stressed to the Portman Group that Skull Splitter, like all our beers, is a high quality, hand crafted product designed to be savoured by adults who enjoy the real ale experience. We never target any of our beers at a young market, nor do we allow them to be sold cut price. In addition, Skull Splitter is not sold in supermarkets."

Mr Sinclair said he had reminded the Portman Group that Sinclair Breweries Ltd, which also owns Kinlochleven's Atlas Brewery, was the first small, independent brewer to incorporate new government alcohol consumption guidelines on all its labelling.

"We've always promoted a responsible attitude towards our products and, whilst we recognise that the Portman Group is trying to address a very real problem with under age drinking in this country, real ales are not the cause of these issues," he said. "Sadly, the Portman Group does not appear to have grasped this fact. They have chosen to disregard everything we've said about the history of Orkney and the associated branding of what is a carefully crafted and well loved product, enjoyed the world over."

He added: "We await their final decision with considerable concern. It's almost inconceivable that a quality product such as Skull Splitter, one that has won numerous industry awards, could disappear from sale in the UK and I sincerely hope that common sense prevails."

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008, 02:38 AM
That's ridiculous!
The nickname of the earl that it was named after was Skull splitter!
If it's not so offensive as to be put in a history book, it shouldn't be kept off beer labels either.

I've had the beer and I think the name is very fitting; it has a hefty alcohol content and it can definately lead to some skulls that feel pretty split in the morning.

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008, 02:47 AM
I like this ale personally although it's been a while since I drank it. Now that they are under attack it's time to show my support and switch my dark drink back to skullsplitter.

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008, 02:51 AM
I feel the same way! I'm going to buy a bunch and hang on to some of it in case it becomes a collector's item if the PC crowd has it pulled from the shelves.

Old Winter
Wednesday, September 24th, 2008, 11:40 PM
Those PC idiots reminds me of the inquisition.

Saturday, October 11th, 2008, 06:52 AM
Orcadians are up in arms over this, it`s another ridiculous example of the politically correct brigade and their crass ignorance and longing to lord it over the UK. :thumbdown
I signed the online petition supporting Skullsplitter and the Orkney Brewery which makes it (which my daughter lives nearby, such is the lifestyle in these islands still, that full kegs of beer are left around and outside the boundaries of the brewery doors and nobody steals them! :D )
and our local SMP, McArthur, wrote to the Portman group asking them to reconsider, and giving the history behind the naming of the beer (they`ll probably try to ban the Red McGregor next for being biased against redheads, tsk..) and explaining that, as a specialist beer and therefore, expensive, young folks simply looking to get drunk quickly are hardly likely to use Skullsplitter, but I wouldn`t hold my breath over any enlightenment from their end.
I like Skullsplitter, but admit to preferring Dark Island. :)
(and true to my native Highlands, prefer the Clynelish single malt over the Orcadian Highland Park :) )