Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Lost in translation

Published:  18 January, 2007

It is unfortunate that Tom Bruce-Gardyne did not contact us before writing his last column (Gaelic Political Football', Harpers 24 June).

Had he done so, I suspect he would not have written quite the same piece.

The main issue which has been raised with The Scotch Whisky Association by Sir Iain Noble is his wish for a new category of whisky, namely Gaelic Whisky', to be included in law. However, this is not a new regional sub-category for Skye and the Outer Isles' as stated in Bruce-Gardyne's article. Sir Iain's proposal is that the description Gaelic Whisky' would be used on whiskies sold by any company having its executive head office in a Gaelic-speaking area. That is completely different to using the name of a geographical area to describe Scotch whisky distilled in that identifiable area.

Apart from the difficulty in defining what is a Gaelic-speaking area (what percentage of the population would have to speak Gaelic in that area?), under Sir Iain's proposal a Lowland Scotch malt whisky, or even a bourbon whiskey from the US, sold by a company based in a Gaelic-speaking area, would qualify as a Gaelic whisky! The Irish might also have something to say about any attempt to monopolise the term Gaelic whisky. While we applaud Sir Iain's attempt to promote the speaking of Gaelic in Scotland, there is no conceivable basis on which his present proposal could be implemented into law.

The article also questions the use of the term blended malt Scotch whisky' on the grounds that it will simply confuse the punter who, if he or she knows anything about whisky, knows it comes as a blend or a malt'. Research shows that, far from understanding that the term blended indicates that the product contains Scotch grain whisky, most consumers simply understand the term blend as meaning more than one'. To them the term blended malt Scotch whisky should therefore be self-explanatory, whereas vatted malt' is not and needs to be explained. Some enthusiasts may not like the term blended malt, but we don't think they - or anybody else - will be deceived as to what they are buying.

Campbell Evans

Director of government and consumer affairs

The Scotch Whisky Association

via e-mail