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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 00:39 GMT
Scotch whisky to get 'protection'
Scotch Whisky
The law will define Scotch's geographical origins, such as Islay
The UK government is launching a consultation exercise on how best to protect the Scotch whisky industry.

The Scotland Office and UK government's environment department Defra will consult on a new law which will define exactly what counts as Scotch.

The aim is to make it harder for cheap foreign imitations to compete against Scotch in traditional export markets.

Defra is consulting on draft legislation with the aim of introducing secondary UK legislation by spring.

The consultation comes as key players from the industry meet in Edinburgh for the annual distillers fair.

The Scotch Whisky Association said it believed legislation would tackle unfair practices, and ensure consumers received clear and consistent product information.

'Iconic products'

The proposed law aims to more tightly define the descriptions applied to Scotch whisky, like single malt or blended grain.

It will also define Scotch's geographical provenance - such as Highland or Islay - and ensure that if the name of a distillery is used, that the whisky must come from that distillery.

Des Browne, the Secretary of State for Scotland, described the drink as one of Scotland's most iconic products.

"It is also economically hugely significant with exports worth 2.5bn each year," he added.

"Once the proposed legislation is enacted, Scotch Whisky, and in particular, Single Malt Scotch Whisky, will be defined by law in Scotland, the UK, the EU and nearly every export market around the globe.

"The industry was always clear - only UK legislation could deliver this and I am proud that the UK Government is meeting the industry's needs."

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