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Last Updated: Monday, 8 October 2007, 08:15 GMT 09:15 UK
More protection for Scotch whisky
Scotch Whisky
Counterfeit whisky is thought to cost the industry millions in lost sales
Scotch whisky is to be given greater protection against counterfeiting, the UK government has announced.

Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said legislation would be introduced to tighten whisky definitions.

The new laws will strictly regulate the descriptions and geographical locations that can be used on whisky bottles.

The move was welcomed by the Scotch Whisky Association, who said it would bring "significant benefits".

Mr Benn said he would be consulting with the industry with a view to secondary UK legislation being introduced by spring 2008.

Scotch whisky exports are worth over 2bn to the Scottish economy each year and the industry needs this proposed legislation to help maintain that figure
Des Browne
Secretary of State for Scotland

He added: "This consultation exercise will take us another step closer to strengthening the UK legislation that the Scotch Whisky Association have been telling us they need to help them protect Scotch whisky in export markets.

"The proposed legislation will make special provisions relating to Scotch whisky. The proposals will define tightly the descriptions applied to Scotch whisky.

"They will also tightly define its geographical provenance - such as Highland or Islay - and ensure that if the product uses the name of a distillery then it must also come from that distillery."

Des Browne, the Secretary of State for Scotland, said: "This is another example of the UK Government working in a reserved area to protect one of Scotland's most important exports

"Scotch whisky exports are worth over 2bn to the Scottish economy each year and the industry needs this proposed legislation to help maintain that figure and defend its high-value product from imitation in some overseas markets."

Legal action

Under the proposed regulations, whisky will be strictly defined under one of five categories, single malt, single grain, blended, blended malt and blended grain.

Distillers will also be allowed to attach one of five regional names - Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Campbeltown, Islay - but will be barred from labelling whisky with the name of a distillery or a similar name if it is not a product of that distillery.

The Scotch Whisky Association will be able to use the existence of the new UK legislation in legal action against overseas counterfeiters.

These proposals will deliver significant benefits to the industry and the wider economy
Gavin Hewitt
Scotch Whisky Association

The industry has regularly complained of Scotch such as Glen Highland Green and Red Scot being sold in countries like India and China.

The Scotch Whisky Association said it can be fighting up to 70 court cases around the world at any one time against overseas manufacturers who use tartan designs or pictures of pipers on their packaging, or who give their whisky names which are supposed to sound Scottish.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, pointed out: "At a time when international demand for Scotch is growing, distillers will applaud proposals to bring forward this important legislation.

"These proposals will deliver significant benefits to the industry and the wider economy, helping to protect, promote and grow Scotch whisky globally.

"Comprehensive and consolidated legislation will ensure Scotch whisky has the best possible protection from unfair practices and that consumers can receive clear information about what they are buying."

Scottish Enterprise Minister Jim Mather said the Scottish Government had been working closely with the UK Government and the whisky industry to protect Scotch.

He added: "It is important to continue maximising the economic benefits of Scotch whisky."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The Scotch Whisky Association welcomes the plan



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