Everything you read below has become obsolete as of the 23th of June 2016 when the UK elected to leave the EU. Please read more in this blog.

The text below is true until the UK actually leaves the EU.

I have been reading up on Laws that govern the production of Whisky, Whiskey, Bourbon and other types of mash-bills that are in the “Whisky” family.

I do this to better understand the legal limitations and possibilities that laws allow for putting flavour and smell into a dram.
The European Laws give certain regions a status of their own and thereby intends to protect local styles and traditions. It allows local governments to prescribe stricter regulations to local Whisky as long as these regulations do not contradict with European laws.
One of these regions is the “United Kingdom”, which may further detail regulations on “Scotch Whisky”. “Scotch Whisky” is obviously from “Scotland”.

In the United Kingdom the “Regional” protected indication for “Scotch Whisky” is further detailed. As mentioned, this is allowed by the European Laws.

See this blog entry about the European Laws on Whisky and Whiskey.

The UK laws on “Scotch Whisky” is layed down in : 2009 No. 2890, FOOD, The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009.

A definition for “Scotch Whisky” is given in Article 3 of these regulations which reads:

Definition of “Scotch Whisky” and categories of Scotch Whisky

3.—

(1) In these Regulations “Scotch Whisky” means a whisky produced in Scotland—

(a) that has been distilled at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added) all of which have been—

  • (i) processed at that distillery into a mash;
  • (ii) converted at that distillery into a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme
  • systems; and
  • (iii) fermented at that distillery only by the addition of yeast;

(b) that has been distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8 per cent so that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production;

(c) that has been matured only in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres;(d) that has been matured only in Scotland;

(e) that has been matured for a period of not less than three years;


(f) that has been matured only in an excise warehouse or a permitted place;

(g) that retains the colour, aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the
method of, its production and maturation;


(h) to which no substance has been added, or to which no substance has been added except—

  • (i) water;
  • (ii) plain caramel colouring; or
  • (iii) water and plain caramel colouring; and

(i) that has a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 40%.

(2) In these Regulations—

“Single Malt Scotch Whisky” means a Scotch Whisky that has been distilled in one or more
batches—
(a) at a single distillery;

(b) from water and malted barley without the addition of any other cereals; and

(c) in pot stills;

“Single Grain Scotch Whisky” means a Scotch Whisky that has been distilled at a single
distillery except—

(a) Single Malt Scotch Whisky; or

(b) a Blended Scotch Whisky;

“Blended Malt Scotch Whisky” means a blend of two or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies
that have been distilled at more than one distillery;

“Blended Grain Scotch Whisky” means a blend of two or more Single Grain Scotch Whiskies
that have been distilled at more than one distillery; and “Blended Scotch Whisky” means a blend of one or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies with one or more Single Grain Scotch Whiskies.

From what I read I come to the conclusion that Whisky that has been moved outside Scotland by Blenders or Bottlers, before blending or before bottleing, can technically not be called “Scotch Whisky” anymore since at least some of the maturation has taken place OUTSIDE Scotland.

I also learned what the role off the Scottich Whisky Assosiation is. They are allowed to adres and discrepancies and report to an authority.

It is also interesting to read all the conditions that have to do with production, especially concerning the use of “only” cask to mature whisky without the addition of “substances”.

It’s very informative to read the origins of what is the definition of “Scotch Whisky” not the Wikipedia version of this definition.
What also is interesting is that apparently these rules which are layed down in this law for “Scotch Whisky” do not apply to “Whisky” made in other parts of the United Kingdom.
This would mean that innovative blenders, such as Compass Box, would be able to make innovative Whisky Blends, matured using inner staves or whatever, as long as the component whiskies in it are not produced in Scotland, thereby avoiding the need to refer to the creation as “Scotch Whisky”.
Double dare on Compass Box to blatantly source whisky from all over the world (except Scotland) and create a innovative barrel to mature it in (outside Scotland) and call it something like “Global”!

 

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