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The Scotch Whisky Association

Whisky Concerns


November 2009

S.W.A. Chief Executive Gavin Hewitt:

New regulations:

Five categories of Scotch Whisky are defined for the first time:

Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Single Grain Scotch Whisky
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Blended Grain Scotch Whisky
Blended Scotch Whisky

These compulsory category sales terms will be required to appear clearly and prominently
on all labels

New rules to prevent the misleading labelling and marketing of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies

A ban on the use of the term "Pure Malt"
A ban on ther use of a distillery name as a brand name on any Scotch Whisky which has not
been wholly distilled in the named distillery

Protection of five traditional regions of production;


A requirement that Scotch Whisky must be wholly matured in Scotland
Clear rules on the use of age statements on packaging
Designation of H M Customs & Exise as the verification authority for Scotch Whisky

Members' Directory 2010

Aceo limited
Adelphi Distillery

Balblair Distillery Co, Ltd
Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc
Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Ltd
Berry Bros & Rudd Ltd
Blairmhor Distillers Ltd
Blairmhor Ltd
Buchanan, James & Co, Ltd
Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd

Catto, James & Co, Ltd
Chivas Brothers Ltd

Dewar, John & Co Ltd
Dewar Rattray, A. Ltd
Diageo plc
Diageo Great Britain Ltd
Diaheo Distilling Ltd
Diageo Scotland Ltd
Drambuie Liqueur Company Ltd, The

Edrington Group Ltd, The

Fisher, Donald Ltd

Glen Grant Distillery Ltd
Glenmorangie Company Ltd, The
Glenglassaugh Distillery Company Ltd, The
Gordon & Macphail
Grant, J & G
Grant, William & Sons Ltd

Haig, John & Co, Ltd
Hardie, J & W Ltd
Harvies of Edinburgh International Ltd
Highland Distillers Ltd

International Whisky Co Ltd
Inver House Distillers Ltd

Johnston, D & Co (Laphroaig) Ltd
Justerini & Brooks Ltd

Kilchoman Distillery Co Ltd

Laing, Douglas & Co Ltd
Last Drop Distillers Ltd, the
Lawson, W M Distillers Ltd
London & Scottish International Ltd

Macdonald Greenlees Ltd
Macleod, Ian Distillers Ltd
Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd

North british Distillery Co Ltd

Old St Andrews Limited

Pulteney Distillery Co Ltd

Russel, Peter J & C Ltd

Sanderson, Wm & Son Ltd

Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Speyburn Distillery Co Ltd

Teacher, Wm & Sons Ltd
Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd

United Distillers U K plc

Walker, John & Sons Ltd
White Horse Distillers Ltd

June 2019
Scotch whisky producers are now free to use a wider variety of casks for maturation, including ex-Tequila and Calvados casks, following a change to the law.

New rules: The regulation change will free distillers to use a broad range of casks
The amendment to the Scotch Whisky Technical File, revealed exclusively to by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), gives specific guidance on which casks can be used to mature or ‘finish’ Scotch whisky, with new text as follows:

‘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 amendment has been lodged with the European Commission by the UK’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) following public consultation, and is now law.

In practice, the new rules mean that distillers can now mature Scotch whisky in a much wider variety of casks, including those previously used to age agave spirits (including Tequila and mezcal), Calvados, barrel-aged cachaça, shochu and baijiu, as well as some other fruit spirits.

The changes also open up the possibility of maturing Scotch in casks previously used for barrel-aged gin, as long as stone fruits do not feature in the list of botanical ingredients – although the SWA says ‘a number of tests’ need to applied to individual products, with guidance offered on a case-by-case basis.

However, the rules do not allow the use of ex-cider casks, despite the launch of a cider cask-finished single malt by Speyside single malt Glen Moray in October last year.

Previously, the rules did not forbid the use of specific casks, but the SWA’s legal team advised distillers to use casks with ‘sufficient evidence of traditional use’ within the industry – such as ex-Sherry and ex-Bourbon casks.

In January 2018, a report by The Wall Street Journal claimed that Diageo, the world’s biggest Scotch whisky producer, had formed a ‘secret task force’ to explore possible changes to Scotch’s strict production rules, including ‘finishing’ Scotch whisky in casks previously used to mature Don Julio Tequila, which the company owns. At the time, the plans were said to have been rebuffed by the SWA.

Most distillers remain supportive of Scotch whisky’s strict production regulations, but some have privately expressed concerns recently that the tight rules governing cask maturation in particular might be putting Scotch at a commercial disadvantage to rival whisky categories.

‘This amendment provides clarity and some additional flexibility on the range of casks in which Scotch whisky can be matured,’ said Karen Betts, SWA chief executive.

‘The change is consistent with Scotch whisky’s heritage and traditions, and strengthens our foundations into the future.’

SWA director of legal affairs Alan Park added: ‘A wide range of wine, beer and spirit casks have been used over the years to mature Scotch whisky, and clarity about what is allowed under the law should be provided in the Scotch Whisky Technical File.

‘The amendment is consistent with the continued use of all those categories of casks where there is evidence of longstanding 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.
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