Clearer EU rules on whisky production, and improved protection for Scotch Whisky, have
been approved by the European Parliament this week during a vote on new EU spirit drinks
legislation.

The vote in Strasbourg was welcomed by The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) which has campaigned vigorously for improvements to EU law.

MEPS approved a wide range of improvements to existing EU spirit drinks law, including a
clearer legal definition of 'whisky', which, the SWA said, will assist whisky distillers to tackle "unfair and misleading" practices overseas.

The new law, for example, makes it explicit that whisky cannot be flavoured or sweetened. A mechanism is also introduced that will make it easier to ensure national rules on Scotch Whisky are enforced across the 27 EU Member States.

Nick Soper, the SWA's European Affairs Director, commented: "Improved EU protection for the traditional way of making Scotch Whisky is a significant step forward. It will be easier to protect Scotch from unfair practices, supporting export success and the jobs that depend on that continued success.

"Throughout our campaign, the SWA has welcomed the support of the European Commission, Scottish Executive, UK Government and MEPs. Working together, we have secured an important result for Scottish distillers and the highest level of protection for Scotch Whisky and consumers."

As reported earlier this week on just-drinks, the European Parliament also voted to allow companies to continue making vodka from non-traditional ingredients such as grapes, without having to label their products vodka-style drinks.

Furthermore, proposals from the parliament's environment committee that ingredients other than grain, potatoes or sugar beet molasses be listed on large labels, with lettering two-thirds as large as the word 'Vodka', were voted down.

Under the winning formula for a proposed EU spirits labelling regulation, non-traditional ingredients must be noted on labels, but the size is not fixed.

MEPs from traditional vodka-producing member states such as Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Sweden pushed for a ban on marketing 'vodka' made from non-traditional agreements, but this was also rejected.