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The Right Blend for Scotch

Published:  18 January, 2007

The UK Government's announcement that it plans to introduce new Scotch Whisky legislation in 2008 is a defining moment for the industry in more ways than one.

New protection for the traditional regional names associated with Scotch Whisky production - 'Speyside', 'Islay', 'Highland', Lowland, and 'Campbeltown' - is a good example of why the proposals are a big step forward.

In our work to protect Scotch Whisky from unfair competition, the SWA has had to take action against the likes of Highland Gold Finest Whisky made in the Netherlands and Islay Whisky Cream from Italy.

Now while the Netherlands is famous for many things, I can't remember a Highland region famous for its whisky production next to the canals. Misuse of these names simply cheats the consumer.

These Scottish regions have acquired an international reputation for making whisky and protection for these terms - by limiting their use to whiskies wholly distilled in the region in question - will help the industry to tackle unfair practices.

The five categories of Scotch Whisky, including 'Single Malt Scotch Whisky' and 'Blended Scotch Whisky', will be defined in UK law, with rules introduced requiring the category name to appear prominently on packaging.

Many companies are already using the terms on bottles ahead of the legislation and our members and others are strongly supportive of the proposal.

Not only will consumers receive clearer and more consistent information, it is also an opportunity for distillers and the trade to promote, and grow understanding of, Scotch Whisky worldwide.

We are delighted new rules will be introduced to tackle the misleading marketing of Single Malts, preventing the use of brand names that suggest a product is from a distillery other than where it was actually distilled.

Take the hypothetical example of 'Glen Dornoch' Single Malt.

From the enquiries we receive, it is obvious that consumers are being misled in such situations into thinking the whisky comes from a Glen Dornoch distillery which does not exist.

Consumers must have confidence about what they are buying.

Taken as a whole, the proposals are sensible and far-reaching. government has demonstrated an understanding of industry needs, and the commitment to legislate, in what will be a busy government programme next year, will be applauded across the industry.

The package offers the right blend for Scotch Whisky - working in the best interests of consumers and distillers.