New Scotch whisky rules covering every aspect of the distilling, bottling and labelling came into force this week. Here we take a look at the key provisions of the new law.

  • The rules stipulate that single malt Scotch whisky can only be bottled in Scotland. It has to have been produced in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added), which includes the processing, converted and fermenting - all to take place at the distillery.
  • Five categories of Scotch are now defined for the first time; Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Single Grain Scotch Whisky, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, Blended Grain Scotch Whisky, and Blended Scotch Whisky. These compulsory category sales terms will be required to appear clearly and prominently on all labels.
  • The product must not be labelled, packaged, sold, advertised or promoted as Scotch if it is not. The rule states that a person must not package or market Scotch in any other way that creates a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public as to whether the drink is genuine. The category into which the whisky falls must be stated on the front of a container and any individual packaging used for transportation of the container.
  • The name of a distillery must not be used as a brand name, or as part of a brand name of a Scotch, or be used in a similar fashion in terms of its positioning or prominence, unless the whisky has been wholly distilled at that distillery.
  • A whisky or whisky-based drink must not be labelled, packaged, advertised or promoted in a way that includes the name of a protected locality or a protected region unless it has been distilled in that locality or region. Protected regions are Highland, Lowland and Speyside.
  • The rules ban use of the term 'pure malt' and stipulate that a distiller must not label, package, sell, advertise or promote any Scotch hisky in a way that includes the phrase or "any derivation of that phrase".
  • Clearer rules on the use of age statements on packaging mean distillers cannot sell, advertise or promote any Scotch in a way that includes a reference to its maturation period or age unless the maturation period or age is expressed in years.
  • The Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has been designated as a verification authority for Scotch.

The Scotch Whisky Regulations can be read in full here.