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Scotch Whisky gets extra safeguards to protect from fakes

Published:  10 January, 2014

A new verification scheme for Scotch whisky means the entire supply chain must be registered and inspected by the government.

The Scotch whisky industry is already protected by GI (Geographical Indicator) status, meaning that nothing produced outside of Scotland can be called Scotch whisky - the same applies for Cornish pasties and Stilton cheese.

The Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme has been launched by chief Treasury secretary Danny Alexander, at Benromach Scotch Whisky distillery in Speyside.

The scheme ensures that every part of the supply chain, from distiller to consumer, within Scotland and further afield, is mapped by the industry, registered with the UK government and inspected.

The new scheme means that Scotch whisky is given additional protection, as applies to other European GIs, such as Cognac.

All businesses involved in any stage of the production of Scotch whisky must register with HMRC and list all their relevant sites within and outside Scotland, including distilleries, maturation facilities, blending and bottling plants. Bottlers of Scotch whisky abroad are also bound by the new rules.

The £350,000 annual cost of the verification scheme is being shared across the Scotch whisky industry in accordance with EU rules.

David Frost, the new chief executive of the Scotch Whisky AssociationDavid Frost, chief executive of Scotch Whisky AssociationSource: Scotch Whisky AssociationDavid Frost, the new chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: "Geographical Indication status is of great commercial value to the Scotch whisky industry. This is a step change in the protection of Scotch Whisky and should be warmly welcomed.

"We fully support the introduction of the verification scheme by the UK government.  It will give even more protection to consumers of Scotch Whisky. It will greatly improve the industry's ability to stop the sale of adulterated Scotch Whiskies bottles abroad."

Treasury secretary Alexander said the scheme was "helping protect one of the UK's most important and successful export industries".

"The verification scheme will make sure people who buy Scotch get what they pay for - the finest spirit in the world. The Scotch whisky industry is now worth around £4bn to the Scottish economy and employs more than 10,000 people in Scotland.

"The booming Scotch whisky industry is a huge asset to Scotland and the UK which benefits from being part of the UK and European market. The UK government is doing its bit today to step in and make sure cheap fakes don't undermine this unique global export."