News

Scotch Whisky Association opens door to Tequila-cask Scotch as production rules relaxed

Most popular

Pernod Ricard Performance Trends 2015-2019

Diageo Performance Trends 2015-2019 - data

Where should wine focus its on-premise efforts?

Major spirits brands dodge the US tariff bullet

just-drinks speaks to Comite Champagne

MORE

Scotch distillers could be allowed to mature whisky in Tequila and other casks under new rules that loosen restrictions on how the spirit is produced.

Scotch whisky distillers will now be allowed to age their liquid in a wider range of casks

Scotch whisky distillers will now be allowed to age their liquid in a wider range of casks

The Scotch Whisky Association, the trade group that determines the definitions for Scotch whisky, has amended its guidance on casks, giving producers freer reign over the maturation process. Under the new rules, casks used by other categories to mature liquid can now be used to age Scotch, but only if cask maturation is part of the "traditional process" of the original category.

This would potentially open the door to Tequila casks, which are used to mature the agave spirit, and casks from other alcohol categories such as baijiu, Calvados, barrel-aged cachaça and shochu.

The SWA will retain the right to decide what casks can be used, however. Another stipulation of the new rules states that all casks used must still result in a spirit that has the "taste, aroma and colour generally found in Scotch whisky".

In a statement to just-drinks, SWA legal director Alan Park said: "If any company is considering using a cask which could be regarded as novel in the production of Scotch whisky, it is strongly recommended to contact the SWA's legal team. All such enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence."

The SWA said it is loosening its rules to allow "additional flexibility". The change follows a Wall Street Journal report last year that claimed Diageo was looking at ageing its Scotch in casks used by the group's Tequila brand, Don Julio.

In a statement on the changes last week, the SWA said: "The amendment is consistent with the continued use of all those categories of casks where there is evidence of long-standing traditional use in the industry. But, it will also create more flexibility, particularly in the range of spirits casks which can be used, subject to a number of safeguards which protect the reputation of Scotch whisky."

The SWA also said the amendment, which changes the UK Government's 'Scotch Whisky Technical File' on production, gives "clarity" to existing rules. The following includes the additional text made to the technical file:

The spirit must be matured in new oak casks and/or in oak casks which have only been used to mature wine (still or fortified) and/or beer/ale and/or spirits with the exception of:

  • wine, beer/ale or spirits produced from, or made with, stone fruits
  • beer/ale to which fruit, flavouring or sweetening has been added after fermentation 
  • spirits to which fruit, flavouring or sweetening has been added after distillation
  • and where such previous maturation is part of the traditional processes for those wines, beers/ales or spirits.

Regardless of the type of cask used, the resulting product must have the traditional colour, taste and aroma characteristics of Scotch whisky. 

The SWA has sometimes butted heads with producers over what constitutes a Scotch. Scottish distillers that have made flavoured whiskies such as Diageo's J&B Honey cannot call the product a Scotch and under SWA rules must use the term "spirit drink".

Last month, Brewdog's spirits head, David Gates, questioned the SWA rules and said they unwittingly "bring as much harm to the industry as they do good".

BrewDog looks to bring colourful reputation to Scotch - Click here for a just-drinks focus


Expert Analysis

Cannabis Market: Canada’s legalization of recreational marijuana is boosting the fortunes of cannabis stocks

Cannabis Market: Canada’s legalization of recreational marijuana is boosting the fortunes of cannabis stocks

The cannabis market has great potential for generating more profits for investors and companies in the future. The industry has grown massively following the legalization of recreational cannabis use ...

VIEW REPORT

Related Content

Why the next chapter for Scotch whisky has its challenges - Comment

Why the next chapter for Scotch whisky has its challenges - Comment...

European Union's relaxed GI rules could open door to

European Union's relaxed GI rules could open door to "unfortunate practices" - SpiritsEurope - just-...

BrewDog looks to bring colourful reputation to Scotch - Focus

BrewDog looks to bring colourful reputation to Scotch - Focus...

Scotch Whisky Association calls for continued trade policy influence post-Brexit - just-drinks exclusive

Scotch Whisky Association calls for continued trade policy influence post-Brexit - just-drinks exclu...

Oops! This article is copy protected.

Why can’t I copy the text on this page?

The ability to copy articles is specially reserved for people who are part of a group membership.

How do I become a group member?

To find out how you and your team can copy and share articles and save money as part of a group membership call Sean Clinton on
+44 (0)1527 573 736 or complete this form..



Forgot your password?