Pioneering Scotch whisky experiments

21st May, 2015 by Becky Paskin

Rather than bemoaning another set of regulations, these Scotch whisky producers are relishing the challenge of innovating within what is already a very strict category.

Click through the following pages to see four Scotch whisky distilleries pushing the limits of innovation

Click through the following pages to see four Scotch whisky distilleries pushing the limits of innovation

*This article was initially published in the March 2015 issue of The Spirits Business magazine

Depending on who you speak to, the fact that Scotch whisky is one of the most tightly regulated consumables on the planet can be a positive or negative thing. Some producers believe the industry’s production processes must be closely protected to safeguard hundreds of years of heritage, while others consider the rules as badly stifling innovation.

Regardless of which side of the fence you sit, the legislation governing Scotch whisky production is about to get a whole lot tighter. By now all bulk importers, blenders, bottlers and labellers must have applied for the EU’s new Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme, which is open to any spirit produced in the region with a geographical indication (GI). Distilleries themselves however have until 10 July to sign up with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in the UK.

What does all this mean? Essentially, in order to continue carrying the term “Scotch whisky” on their labels, brand owners must comply with biennial checks by HMRC to ensure five key aspects of their liquid’s production meet EU technical specifications. The five areas subject to scrutiny are: fermentation, distillation, maturation, blending, bottling and labelling of final product. Simply put, those that fail can’t name their products as Scotch.

While some feel this extra level of security for the Scotch whisky category is another nail in creativity’s coffin, a handful of producers are already discovering exciting ways to innovate. Forget adding flavours (it can’t be called Scotch then anyway); we’re talking about innovation within the production process – four of the five areas down to be checked by HMRC. Some are more closed about their experiments than others, but these four distillers are keen to show how to have fun with Scotch whisky production, and still colour within the lines.

HMRC will publish details of all verified Scotch whisky brands and facilities, including their processes, in Jan 2016.

Click through the following pages to see four Scotch whisky distilleries pioneering innovation in the industry.

For more information on which Scotch whisky brands are excelling in the industry, see our Global Scotch Whisky Masters 2015 published in the June issue of The Spirits Business magazine.

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