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Welsh Whisky Company secretary Arthur Davies
"Perhaps co-operation would be better than competition"
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Monday, 8 May, 2000, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Welsh whisky funding angers Scots
Whisky bottles
Scottish producers are not afraid of the competition
Plans to invest thousands of pounds of European funding in a distillery to produce Welsh whisky have sparked anger in Scotland.

The Welsh Whisky Company plans to launch a peat-flavoured malt whisky to rival Scottish varieties.

But the funding of one million euros from the European Commission and 220,000 from the Welsh Assembly has angered Scottish politicians.

Fergus Ewing MSP, who has distilleries in his Highland constituency, said: "I find it extraordinary that the Commission should be providing funds and support to so-called whisky products outside Scotland at a time when the Scottish whisky industry is suffering from a number of impracticable and unfair regulatory burdens.

"This is a matter that I will be taking up with Henry McLeish to see if the Scottish Executive will stand up for the Scottish whisky industry and to seek an explanation as to why the Commission is providing a subsidy to this venture."

Targeting

The first batch of the new whisky is expected to be produced next month and will be aged in Scottish barrels.

Members of the Wales Tourist Board have already been given a preview of the new distillery and visitor centre in Hirwaun near Aberdare.

Whisky distilling died out in Wales in 1894 and the firm has imported expertise from Ireland and England to open the new distillery.

The company said it has already signed up distributors in North America and is targeting markets in Hong Kong and Australia.

The Welsh Whisky Company also claim to have stolen a march on Scottish producers by distilling the first "organic" whisky with the new product distilled from organically-grown Welsh barley.

Objections

A previous attempt to launch Welsh whisky foundered two years ago after Scottish whisky manufacturers won a court battle to prevent Scottish blends being bottled in Wales and labelled as 'Welsh' whisky.

But Scottish objections have left the Welsh distillers unmoved.

Arthur Davies, of the Welsh Whisky Company, said: "Spirit distillation has been a feature of Welsh life since the advent of the Dark Ages.

"We will be targeting the huge overseas market initially and the Welsh Diaspora who will be encouraged to order over the internet."

A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: "We have no fear of competition but we would wish to ensure that if they produce a product labelled Welsh whisky, it would be Welsh whisky - which has not always been the case before now."

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21 Mar 00 | Scotland
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