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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 14:24 GMT
Diageo admits Cardhu malt defeat
Cardhu Pure Malt
Critics claimed the public would be confused about the new product
A whisky brand which was at the centre of a row over the definition of "pure malt" is to be taken off the market.

The drinks giant Diageo has announced that it will no longer sell Cardhu Pure Malt, a mix of whiskies from more than one distillery.

The company is re-introducing Cardhu Single Malt, which contains only whisky from the Cardhu distillery.

The row over the marketing of Cardhu had threatened a split within the Scotch Whisky Association.

Other distillers were worried that the use of the term "pure" was imprecise and could confuse consumers.

Diageo retained the original style of bottle and packaging for the new product, as well as the Cardhu name.

The premium end of the whisky market has been built around single malts, which each contain whisky from just one named distillery.

Traditionalists claimed that the move by Diageo could have undermined the image of the product.

The resulting dispute saw threats of legal action and a rival company, William Grant and Son, wrote to every Member of the Scottish Parliament, accusing Diageo of "gambling on might being right".

We believe that we have acted consistently in the best interests of consumers, but acknowledge that we under-estimated the strength of feeling on this issue
Ian Meakins
A compromise agreement within the Scotch Whisky Association on future marketing strategy avoided an outright split, but now Diageo has sought to prevent any future conflict with other producers.

Ian Meakins, the head of Diageo's European marketing operation, said: "We believe that we have acted consistently in the best interests of consumers, but acknowledge that we under-estimated the strength of feeling on this issue.

"Although our revised proposals for packaging were accepted by the Scotch Whisky Association, we committed to work with them on a review of Scotch whisky definitions."

It became clear that the industry as a whole was against marketing whiskies from a number of sources under the name of an individual distillery.

Mr Meakins added: "In future, distillery names should be used only for single malts.

"We believe that our decision will allow all those involved to focus on this work."

Cardhu Single Malt had been the world's fastest-growing single malt whisky and Diageo said it remained committed to innovation within the category.

William Grant and Son, which produces Glenfiddich whisky, welcomed the announcement from Diageo.

Deputy Group Managing Director Tony Hunt said: "This is a good day for the consumer, for the Scotch Whisky industry, and for the Scottish and UK economies.

"We would like to congratulate Diageo on taking this decision for the benefit of the single malt catagory."

BBC Scotland's Hayley Millar
"The row started brewing last summer"

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05 Dec 03  |  Scotland
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