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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 19:54 GMT
'Progress' in whisky row talks
An advert in Spanish, one of the main markets for Cardhu
Spain is one of the main export markets for Cardhu
The latest round of talks has been held to try to resolve the dispute which has divided the Scotch whisky industry.

Moray MP Angus Robertson said progress had been made at the meeting between MPs and the global drinks giant Diageo.

Potential solutions were put forward which will be discussed next month by the council of the Scotch Whisky Association.

The row has been caused by the decision to change Cardhu from a single malt to a blend but to continue using the name with only a minor change on the label.

Other distillers have accused Diageo of misleading the public, cheapening malt whisky as a brand and damaging the industry's reputation.

Mr Robertson, whose constituency includes the heart of Scotland's malt whisky country, said all sides at the meeting in the Commons had said agreement could be reached.

We are doing our utmost to find a satisfactory outcome in the best interests of the Scotch whisky industry as a whole
David Williamson
Scotch Whisky Association
"Members of the All-Party Scotch Whisky Industry Group were pleased to discuss new proposals with Diageo which we believe to represent movement by the company towards achieving a solution," he went on.

"There is a strong feeling that agreement should be reached within the industry as a matter of urgency which will protect the positive role and integrity of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

"Parliamentarians strongly take the view that compromise is necessary on all sides to achieve a final agreement.

"It is not sensible for us to publicly comment on the specific suggestions made by the parties which are matters of internal negotiation, but we believe they could be the basis of a compromise."

Proposals under wraps

The proposals will be discussed by the SWA council on 4 December.

Association spokesman David Williamson did not want to reveal the details of what had been put forward.

"We are doing our utmost to find a satisfactory outcome in the best interests of the Scotch whisky industry as a whole," he said.

Jonathan Driver, Diageo's global malt whisky director, said: "We had a very useful meeting and what came out of it was affirmation by MPs of the critical role of the SWA as the forum for resolving this issue.

"We feel the MPs recognise the significant steps that Diaego has taken with the SWA in seeking a resolution and reuniting the industry.

Industry 'at risk'

"We are grateful for the time that the All Party Group has dedicated to support the industry."

Single malt producer William Grant & Sons Ltd claimed the malt whisky industry will be in jeopardy unless "an honest and principled" solution is found.

William Grant & Sons' managing director Tony Hunt said: "The industry is united against what Diageo is trying to do to single malt whisky and we are working hard to resolve this crisis.

"We wholeheartedly support First Minister Jack McConnell's view that the reputation of the whisky industry must remain high worldwide.

"What is happening now is putting that reputation at risk. Concern over the Cardhu issue has been expressed in the media."

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