Scotch whisky companies are meeting the highest standards of responsible brand marketing and promotion, according to an industry audit.

Research by The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) published today (29 August) found that distillers had successfully implemented tough industry rules in everyday marketing practices.

The SWA Code of Practice on Responsible Marketing and Promotion, launched in 2005, is mandatory in the UK and sets best practice for SWA members worldwide.

Jack Law, chairman of the Code's Independent Complaints Panel and chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, reviewed the SWA's audit process and findings.

"The SWA's Code has taken on board the frequent criticism of self regulatory codes - that they are soft on enforcement - by introducing mechanisms to fine, name and shame, and ultimately expel a member continually breaching the code," Law said.

"This is a welcome dimension and one that Alcohol Focus Scotland would like to see introduced into the codes of similar bodies.

"The code is well used by SWA members seeking advice on its application and enjoys the benefit of having no official complaints lodged since its introduction. This is a measure of the positive value and effectiveness of the code. The audit findings have also provided SWA members with some issues to consider which can only improve the code's effectiveness in the future."

Following the audit, which involved face-to-face interviews and a review of marketing material, SWA members have agreed to revise the code to introduce new sponsorship guidelines and to extend its mandatory scope to be EU-wide.