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BSI publishes British whisky production guidelines

New whisky production guidelines released today (12 September) aim to ensure consistency and high product quality across the industry in the UK.

whisky warehouse with casks
BSI worked with some of the UK’s top whisky experts to create the guidance

The British Standards Institution (BSI), the national standards body of the UK, is behind the guidelines. BSI’s standards are voluntary, unlike legal requirements such as the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 and the Irish Whiskey Technical File, although there is some overlap between BSI’s standards and the law.

The standards include the desired colour, which should be caramel, ranging from pale yellow or gold to deep amber or mahogany. Whisky must be matured for at least three years in wooden casks and shouldn’t be sweetened or contain any additives.

The alcoholic strength by volume must be at least 40% and less than 94.8%.

The BSI also notes that only water or plain caramel should be added to matured whisky.

In terms of product labelling, the BSI encourages distillers to consider whether any animal products were used in the production of liquids stored in casks prior to the whisky maturation process, as the whisky should not be labelled as vegan if so.

Scott Steedman, director general of standards at BSI, said: “The new standard for whisky effectively bottles the historic tradition of whisky distilling for the benefit of consumers and the industry.

“We recognise that distillers take great pride in their craft and the unique characteristics that define a quality whisky and we are delighted to have worked with whisky experts from across the UK and Ireland to produce a consensus standard on what good looks like for this world-renowned product.

“We hope the standard will create a benchmark for quality that will add value to the distillers who use it and increase the confidence of consumers everywhere. This new standard has worldwide application and can help to facilitate the production and trade of high-quality whisky worldwide.”

The guidance has been created by BSI in collaboration with experts from the UK’s whisky industry.

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