The SWA set new proposals for labelling

The Scotch Whisky Association are proposing new regulations for the labeling of Scotch Whisky which they hope to push through as European legislation by next spring.

Under the proposed regulations, whisky will be strictly defined under one of five categories, single malt, single grain, blended, blended malt and blended grain.

Distillers will also be allowed to attach one of five regional names – Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Campbeltown, Islay – but will be barred from labelling whisky with the name of a distillery or a similar name if it is not a product of that distillery.

The Scotch Whisky Association will be able to use the existence of the new UK legislation in legal action against overseas counterfeiters.

Here is my problem- for the last year we have been attending various food and drink fairs in the UK and Europe plus at least four major whisky festivals in the USA. The level of confusion at the difference between a “blend” and a “malt” is stunning. A “blended malt” or a “blended grain” whisky will compound this confusion. There is so little “blended grain” on the market that it cannot be an issue at the moment. However “blended malt” is a rapidly growing category in all major markets. Why not a “vatted malt”? its easy to explain about putting various malt whiskies in a “vat” and bottling them from this “vat” everyone can visualise this as a process and the “blended” issue goes away. This is a simple solution and it is the historic name for this type of malt whisky.

The whole issue came about through the Cardu farce and in the end what prevails will be decided by four or five large producers over lunch at the SWA, they will not be asking a few thousand punters if it makes sense to them or if it adds to the confusion. The SWA is there for the industry not the general public, fair enough, but just this once ask the public before pushing through this legislation.

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One Response to The SWA set new proposals for labelling

  1. Smsmmns says:

    Right you are, Alex.

    I agree that the blended malt category does nothing but confuse the consumer and I cannot help but feel that it is a decision based on the opinion of a few powerful folks who wish to curb the growth of this vatted/blended malt sector. Cynical? Maybe.

    I also think that having controls about what regions are allowed on a bottle can be problematic. The ‘regions’ are defined differently in every resource out there. In the proposed list, has ‘Islands’ been made illegal? Can we really say Campbeltown justifies its own region today? And isn’t Diageo in the middle of launching an approach to whisky that obliterates the notion of terroir in whisky making?

    Poor whisky consumer, constantly left confused.

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