by Dominic Roskrow
The Scotch Whisky Association has launched a fresh set of definitions for styles of whisky – and reignited a row over definitions as a result.
It plans to re-label vatted malt products – a mix of malt whiskies from several distilleries – as ‘blended malts’.
The move is designed to clear up the issue of labelling in the minds of the customer once and for all. But many in the industry fear that the use of the word ‘blend’ for a product containing only malt whiskies will create MORE confusion and not less.
The issue of descriptions became acute last year in the row over Cardhu, when Diageo changed its single malt product in to a vatted one without changing its name. It altered the description on the label from ‘single malt’ to ‘pure malt’.
The SWA is calling for a code of practice that will forbid the use of a distillery name on any product which contains whisky from more than one distillery. The term ‘pure malt’ will also be prohibited.
But the labelling issue is not as clear-cut. In a straw poll carried out by Whisky Magazine staff, not one person thought the term ‘blended malt Scotch whisky’ to describe a mix of malt whiskies from different distilleries was adequate. And many said that the definition would be easily confused with the term ‘blended Scotch whisky.’
The SWA says it will consult with ‘interested parties’ and is unveiling its plans this month.
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