The head of United Spirits, has called for the deregulation of the global whisky industry.

Speaking today (17 April) at this year's World Whiskies Conference in Glasgow, Vijay Rekhi, president and managing director of the Indian spirits group, told delegates that steps should be taken towards an all-inclusive whisky category, rather than restricting consumption of whisky, and thereby conceding ground to others spirits categories that are not restricted by definition barriers.

"There should be no definitional barrier based on geography that can lead to constraints on consumption," Rekhi said. "Whisky cannot ring-fence itself. I think we need to broad-base the definition of whisky in all parts of the world."

Asked about punitive trade barriers on the Indian market for foreign whisky, Rekhi said; "If you want to dismantle barriers, let's dismantle intellectual barriers - let's have a level playing field."

However, speaking to just-drinks on the sidelines of the conference, Campbell Evans, director of government & consumer affairs at the Scotch Whisky Association said: "The WTO issue of tariffs is a clear violation of international trade law and totally divorced from the Indian definition point."

When asked about Rekhi's remarks on definition, Evans said: "This is often dressed up as a Scotch issue, but there are 70 countries around the world that have legal definitions that whisky be made from cereals.

"Those products made from cereals from India can be sold on international markets and can be bought here in Glasgow today. So the market is open to Indian whisky made to international standards if properly labelled and can enter the EU with no tariffs.

"It is outdated protectionism for modern, competitive India to maintain tariffs of 550% on Scotch whisky and other international spirits products."