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Indian whisky exports to EU ‘extremely worrying’

The amount of “whisky” produced in India and imported to the EU is  “extremely worrying,” the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has claimed, as it does not comply with official definitions.

Whisky SWA Indian whisky
EU imports of Indian “whisky” that does not adhere to official requirements is “extremely worrying”

In its Annual Report for 2013, the industry body said that there is no compulsory definition of whisky in India, and the Indian voluntary standard does not require whisky to be distilled form cereals or matured for any length of time.

According to European law, spirits labeled as whisky must be distilled from cereals below 94.8% abv and matured for at least three years
 in wooden casks.

However, the SWA said: “Very little Indian ‘whisky’ qualifies as whisky in the EU owing to the use of molasses or neutral alcohol, limited maturation (if any) and the use of flavourings.

“Such spirits are, of course, considerably cheaper to produce than genuine whisky.”

The organisation added that large quantities of such spirits are being imported in bulk to the EU, the majority of which is mixed with other spirits and sold in supermarkets at “extremely low prices”.

Countries where the majority of these products are being imported into include France, Spain, Belgium and The Netherlands.

Such spirits, marketed simply as “blended whisky”, are said to undercut all genuine whiskies, including Scotch, Bourbon and Irish whiskey, creating “unfair competition”.

The association said that over a four-year period, it had traced 4.5 million litres of Indian “whisky” which, if mixed with genuine whisky to produce these “blended whiskies”, could have produced 25 million bottles.

SWA members have raised their concerns with the EU Commission and authorities in the main countries in which the bulk of Indian “whisky” is being imported.

The organisation has also taken legal action against some of the importing companies.

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