Blog: Chris Brook-CarterThe spirit of reconciliation

Chris Brook-Carter | 16 March 2005

The Scotch industry gathered in London on Friday and Saturday for the annual consumer show, Whisky Live. Everyone involved should have been encouraged. The Royal Horticultural Halls were packed by mid afternoon on the first day but, best of all, the visitors ranged from the older males you would expect to see to a healthy splattering of young women.

The interest the event generated will no doubt only strengthen the resolve of the Scotch Whisky Association to see its proposals regarding the categorisation and labelling of Scotch whisky – which were announced last week - become enshrined in law.

The proposals are thought to be the most extensive reworking of Scotch legislation for nearly a century, and the SWA and its members should be applauded for the extent to which the proposals go, their simplicity and for the relative speed a job of this scale has taken.

In fact, other trades in the drinks industry - some of which are in dire need of reform - would do well to look at these proposals and learn how vested interest and regulatory red tape can be cut through for the greater good of the consumer and ultimately the trade.

Under the new proposals, there will be only five legal definitions for different styles of Scotch: Single Malt, Single Grain (both from a single distillery), Blended Scotch, Blended Malt and Blended Grain. Definitions such as ‘pure malt’ or ‘vatted malt’ will be outlawed, replaced with Blended Malt.

The proposed legislation also aims to outlaw the use of geographical descriptors for whiskies that are not from that area, such as ‘Islay Cask Finish’.

The proposals are currently before the Scottish Executive and the UK government and the SWA hopes they will become law by 2007, though there is likely to be a one-year derogation even then to allow the sell-through of old stock.

In the meantime, just-drinks readers should note that this month’s management briefing is our annual Global Review of the Whisk(e)y Market. It will be available for download early next week.


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