Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 11:18 UK

Brewery's Skull Splitter headache

Skull Splitter
The brewery has defended the image of Skull Splitter

A Scottish brewery has jumped to the defence of its ale called Skull Splitter amid claims its Viking-branded bottles have an aggressive theme.

The Orkney Brewery fears Skull Splitter could be withdrawn from sale following a report commissioned by alcohol watchdog the Portman Group.

Orkney Brewery's parent company, Sinclair Breweries Ltd, said it was "stunned" and hoped for "common sense".

The Portman Group told BBC Scotland a complaint was being investigated.

Skull Splitter is an 8.5% ale created more than 20 years ago which is sold internationally.

It was highlighted in a report by management consultancy PIPC on the grounds its name could imply violence and also the impact the strength may have on the drinker.

The brewery said the ale is in fact named after Thorfinn Hausakluif, the seventh Viking earl of Orkney, nicknamed "Skull Splitter".

'Responsible brewers'

Norman Sinclair, managing director of Sinclair Breweries Ltd, said: "We're completely stunned by the hard line the Portman Group has taken with Skull Splitter.

"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.

Norman Sinclair
Norman Sinclair said he hoped for "common sense"

"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."

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."

A Portman Group spokesman confirmed: "A complaint has been made by PIPC about this product to the Independent Complaints Panel."

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