Here is an update/clarification from the SWA’s David Williamson in regard to my recent New EU Whisky Law – as well as an answer to a question I had asked.
Further to our talk earlier this week, a provisional version of the new European Spirit Drinks Regulation, adopted by the European Parliament on Tuesday, can be found at:
EU definition of ‘whisk(e)y’ is in Annex II. The Regulation is
expected to be formally endorsed by EU Member States after the summer
recess and will enter into force shortly thereafter (when the final
text is officially published by the EU).
the existing entry on the blog site on this subject seems to suggest
that the EU Regulation ‘approves’ the industry’s proposals for new
Scotch Whisky legislation (on definition and presentation) in the UK.
the SWA is in discussions with UK government about the industry’s
package of proposals and how best to introduce the domestic legislation
that will implement them. Once that domestic legislation is passed,
there is an opportunity to take things forward at EU level. Under the
new EU Regulation, there is a facility for individual Member States,
such as the UK, to register their national rules on spirit drinks with
geographical indications at EU level, and to have the rules enforced
across the rest of the EU.
I hope this is helpful.
Public Affairs Manager
Government & Consumer Affairs
Scotch Whisky Association
I had also asked David:
"What is the SWA position on someone mixing Scotch Whisky (or any whisky which does/will meet the generally accepted definitions of whisky (i.e., grain; oak; maturation, etc.) with a drink that does not meet the definition (e.g., a molasses-based "whisky")."
If a Scotch Whisky, or any other whisky as defined under the EU Regulation, is mixed with any other spirit, e.g. a molasses-based spirit, then the final product cannot, under EU and UK
law, be described as ‘Scotch Whisky’ or ‘whisky’.
Under both current EU law and the new EU Regulation, such a product would have to be described as a ‘spirit drink‘. (There are fairly complicated rules as to what else could appear on the label depending on the circumstances.)
Both the current EU Regulation, and the new one, apply equally to spirits produced and sold in the EU, spirits imported into the EU, and spirits exported from the EU. In other words, the new text makes no change in this regard.