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Pernod’s views on changes to Scotch rules ‘similar’ to Diageo

Pernod Ricard has said it holds a “similar” view to Diageo regarding the possibility of altering the rules that govern Scotch whisky.

Pernod Ricard said it “constantly challenges” the SWA on Scotch whisky innovation

Asked at a roundtable meeting in London this morning (13 February) about the French drinks group’s take on a news story published last month in The Wall Street Journal – which claimed secret documents showed Diageo has assembled a secret task force to consider changes to the Scotch whisky regulations – Pernod Ricard said it holds “similar” views to Diageo, and is constantly challenging the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

The documents allegedly suggest the creation of a new category of blended whisky, which could include flavoured or lower abv line extensions of existing brands, as well as the option to mature and finish Scotch in casks not deemed to be ‘traditonal’, such as Tequila.

“We are similar to Diageo. We are constantly challenging the SWA because we want to innovate the industry,” said Glen Brasington, marketing director – strategy, business development and services, Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky arm of Pernod Ricard.“I think it’s our job to innovate; our job to push the category and certainly we have had success.

“We have innovated and created products like Ballantine’s Brasil, which is a flavoured spirit drink.

He also emphasised the need to innovate in order to tap into the millennial demographic.

Brasington added: “The point about millennials is they want new experiences and customisation. If we limit ourselves to traditional references, we may become out of touch with consumers.”

Over recent years, multiple Scotch whisky producers – including Bruichladdich and Compass Box – have called for greater transparency in the Scotch whisky category, which is currently limited due to the existing regulations.

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

For a more in-depth look at the potential impact changes to the Scotch whisky regulations could have on the category, see the March issue of The Spirits Business magazine. 

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