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New whisky protection measures in Parliament

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has announced that new regulations to protect Scotch Whisky and the consumers of it worldwide have been laid in the House of Commons.

The regulations, which include measures to outlaw the bottling of single malt outside Scotland and improve labelling for consumers, will come into force on November 23. The intention is to further enhance the high quality image of whisky and protect it from misuse overseas.

Speaking at a Scotland Office Food and Drink seminar in Edinburgh, Murphy said: ‘The Government has worked closely with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) on these regulations which introduce a stronger legal framework to protect one of our most cherished products.

“It is vital that we protect our key industries. We cannot allow others to trade off our good name and to pass off inferior whisky as being produced in Scotland. These regulations will help protect whisky customers across the globe.  

“New labelling rules will also mean that customers will have a clearer understanding about precisely where and how their drink has been produced. This will enhance the education of many whisky drinkers as well as their enjoyment. Despite this, I have to admit that I have no plans to end my own teetotal habits but I will continue to support the industry in whatever other ways I can.”

Welcoming the regulations, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, Gavin Hewitt said: "This is landmark legislation for Scotch Whisky delivering important benefits for consumers, distillers, and the economy. 

"Additional protection, including the requirement to bottle Single Malt Scotch Whisky in Scotland, helps safeguard Scotch from unfair and deceptive practices; the new labelling rules provide a unique opportunity to promote consumer understanding of Scotch worldwide.   These Regulations have the strong backing of the Scotch Whisky industry."

The regulations, that come into force on 23 November, mean:

• Compulsory use of category descriptions, such as ‘Blended Scotch Whisky’, will ensure consumers receive clear, consistent and accurate information;

• New presentation rules provide a unique opportunity to promote understanding of every category of Scotch Whisky, Single and Blended, to consumers;

• Additional protection for Scotch Whisky from unfair competition and deceptive practices, establishing a robust and comprehensive legal framework;

• New rules to require the bottling of Single Malt Scotch Whisky in Scotland will protect this growing category;

• New protection for the traditional regional names associated with Scotch Whisky production and clear rules on product age statements;

• Introduction of a strong enforcement mechanism, with HM Revenue & Customs designated as the Scotch Whisky verification authority; 

• Use of the word ‘Pure’ which is to be banned as it has led to confusion as ‘Pure Malt’ may come across as being superior whereas the term is used to disguise the fact that the product is a blend of malts rather than a Single Malt;

• There is also to be tightening up of the use of distillery and regional names:

• These regulations will also serve to protect consumers as well as the industry through consolidation of the legal framework.

1 November 2009 - Felicity Murray