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Compulsory scheme launched to prevent fake Scotch

Scotch whisky producers will need to sign up to a new verification scheme in order to sell their products within the EU.

Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky
All Scotch producers will need to contribute to funding the new verification scheme

The UK government has introduced the Spirits Drinks Verification Scheme, which it claims will give consumers of Scotch whisky greater reassurance that what they are buying is the genuine product.

The scheme is part of EU regulations that require the production process of every GI is verified by the authorities.

As part of it, all areas of Scotch whisky production, from distilleries and warehousing facilities to bottling plants both in the UK and overseas, will need to register with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They will be monitored to ensure they comply with strict Scotch production regulations.

The scheme will cost the industry £350,000 a year to implement, with all producers required by the EU to share the cost among them.

David Frost, the new CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), said the verification scheme is a “step change” in the protection of Scotch whisky, and should be “warmly welcomed”.

“Geographical Indication status is of great commercial value to the Scotch whisky industry,” he said.

“We fully support the introduction of the verification scheme by the UK Government.  It will give even more protection to consumers of Scotch whisky. It will greatly improve the industry’s ability to stop the sale of adulterated Scotch whiskies bottles abroad.”

The scheme was launched at Benromach Distillery in Speyside by Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP, chief secretary to the Treasury.

“The verification scheme will make sure people who buy Scotch get what they pay for – the finest spirit in the world. The Scotch whisky industry is now worth around £4bn to the Scottish economy and employs more than 10,000 people in Scotland.

“The booming Scotch Whisky industry is a huge asset to Scotland and the UK which benefits from being part of the UK and European market. The UK government is doing its bit today to step in and make sure cheap fakes don’t undermine this unique global export.”

Scotch whisky has been registered as a GI with the World Trade Organisation wince 1994. It is currently recognised as a GI in 41 countries worldwide, although the SWA is working to register Scotch in as many countries as possible.

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