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SWA chief: Interpretation of Scotch laws ‘could change’

The chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) believes there is scope to reassess the way Scotch regulations are interpreted by the industry.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA

Speaking to The Spirits Business last month, Karen Betts, who was named head of the SWA in March last year, said she sees “more flexibility” in how the regulations could be viewed than the SWA had previously “taken advantage of”.

“I always say Scotch has been such a successful export because we have protected the category so successfully, because as soon as you start to export a good thing, somebody else is going to want to copy it, produce it more cheaply and sell it under the same name,” she commented.

“And so our intellectual property protection has really protected the value of the category over the years and it remains very important.

“Having said that, I equally think there is space so look at whether, not so much the regulations are right, but the way in which it is interpreted and the guidance that we produce around it.”

Betts added that while “it may be that there’s space for some things to change”, the SWA would need to discuss any amendments with the broader industry and at a government level, since the regulations are written into law under The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009.

Betts’s comments come almost two years after Scotch whisky bottler and blender Compass Box launched its Transparency campaign, which petitoned for Scotch makers to have the option of listing the proportional age statements of their bottlings.

The company was called out for listing the proportional age statements of its This is Not a Luxury Whisky and Flaming Heart whiskies.

To read SB’s full interview with Betts, see the January issue of The Spirits Business magazine, out soon.

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