What is the legal definition of Scotch Whisky?

Scotch Whisky has been defined in United Kingdom (UK) law since 1909 and recognised in European Community legislation since 1989. The current UK legislation relating specifically to Scotch Whisky is The Scotch Whisky Act 1988 and the Orders made under it. which came into effect in June 1990 and superseded that part of the Finance Act 1969. as subsequently amended, defining Scotch Whisky.

For the purposes of The Scotch Whisky Act 1988 "Scotch Whisky'' means whisky

which has been produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added) all of which have been
processed at that distillery into a mash;
converted to a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems; and
fermented only by the addition of yeast;
which has been distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8 per cent so that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production;
which has been matured in an excise warehouse in Scotland in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres, the period of that maturation being not less than 3 years;
which retains the colour. aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production and maturation; and
to which no substance other than water and spirit caramel has been added. The Scotch Whisky Act 1988 prohibits inter alia the production in Scotland of whisky other than Scotch Whisky.
The Scotch Whisky Act 1988 and European Community (EC) legislation both specify a minimum alcoholic strength of 40 per cent by volume, which applies to all Scotch Whisky bottled and/or put up for sale within or exported from the Community.

However, transitional arrangements allow whiskies which do not comply with the EC Spirit Drinks Regulation, including those at an alcoholic strength lower than 40 per cent by volume, to be bottled unti! 14th December 1990 provided that their preparation had begun before 15th June 1990. These whiskies may continue to be sold by wholesale or retail until 14th December 1991 and thereafter by retailers until such time as the stock they held on 14th December 1991 is exhausted .

© SWA 1995