The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has welcomed plans by the UK government to tighten legislation regarding the definition of Scotch whisky.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said today (7 October) that it will consult later this year on the strengthening of UK law to "help support action against counterfeiting and passing off". Secondary legislation should be ready for early next year, DEFRA said.

Speaking to just-drinks today (7 October), a spokesperson for the SWA hailed the move as a step in the right direction for the Scotch whisky trade. "We're delighted," the spokesperson said. "The Government has decided to adopt proposals that the SWA has been recommending since 2004.

"We hope the new legislation will better help protect Scotch from unfair practices and ensure consumers receive clear and consistent information about what they are buying."

The proposed legislation will update and consolidate the rules governing the definition and presentation of Scotch. Proposals include formal definition of the five Scotch categories, the introduction of new labelling rules, new protection for traditional regional names, and measures to tackle misleading practices.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the SWA, added: ""These proposals will deliver significant benefits to the industry and the wider economy, helping to protect, promote and grow Scotch whisky globally."

The spokesperson said that the new legislation will hopefully be in place by April next year.