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Responsible Drinking

Like any other form of alcohol, Scotch Whisky should be consumed in moderation. When consumed responsibly by adults, alcohol can be part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle and play a positive role in social occasions and celebrations.

We are proud of Scotch Whisky, and always want it to be enjoyed responsibly.

When consumed responsibly by adults, Scotch Whisky can be part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle and play a positive role in social occasions and celebrations. It has been for hundreds of years in Scotland and is now enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Of course, when alcohol is misused it can cause harm – to individuals, communities, and our society. Whether it is Scotch Whisky, other spirits, wine, or beer, the effects of alcohol on the body are the same and have the potential to damage health in a number of ways, including increased risk of liver disease, heart problems and mental health issues.

Many countries around the world set drinking guidelines to support those that choose to drink to drink responsibly. Find out the guidelines in your country here


What are the UK drinking guidelines?

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines recommend that both men and women consume no more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis.

What is a unit of alcohol?

A unit is 10ml of pure alcohol.

You can work out how many units are in any alcoholic drink by multiplying the volume (in ml) by the % abv (strength) then divide by 1000. For example, a 25ml dram of Scotch Whisky which is 40% abv would be: 25 x 40 = 1000/1000 = 1 units of alcohol.

Drinkaware have developed an app to calculate units of alcohol and track your consumption. You can download it here.

Many common drinks contain more than one than one unit of alcohol – so it is important to know how many units are in your drink of choice.

So units of alcohol can vary between drinks?

Yes. The units of alcohol contained in a drink depends on the alcoholic strength and the volume of the drink. A single measure of Scotch Whisky is one unit of alcohol – but that some drinks can contain more alcohol than you think.

You can see how units can vary below.

What else can I do to consume alcohol responsibly?

Never drink and drive

Never consume alcohol while pregnant

Never drink under the legal purchase age, or attempt to purchase alcohol for minors

If you do choose to drink alcohol, it is better if you spread your consumption over several days and have alcohol-free days each week.

In addition, you should:

  • Never consume alcohol while operating heavy machinery
  • Have food before and during drinking
  • Always have water alongside an alcoholic drink
  • Be careful not to pour larger measures at home
  • Avoid binge drinking

Is there a type of alcohol which is better for me if I do want to drink?

No. It is the amount of alcohol consumed that affects a person most, not the type. There is no evidence that consuming spirits like Scotch Whisky responsibly causes any more harm than consuming other types of alcohol.

Moderation is a behaviour, not a type of alcohol.

Some types of alcohol can contain more calories despite containing the same units of alcohol. You can see this below:

Where do I go if I want to learn more about alcohol consumption?

If you would like more information about drinking responsibly, you may want to see the guidance provided by Drinkaware. This independent charity raises awareness of alcohol and its harms, among others by providing impartial, evidence-based information, advice and practical resources.

Responsible Drinking news & commentary

18 April 2023

SWA comments on First Minister statement on DRS and alcohol marketing

The alcohol marketing consultation will be taken "back to the drawing board" and Deposit Return Scheme delayed until March 2024

01 April 2021

Scotch Whisky Industry Sets Out Manifesto Ahead of Scottish Parliament Election

The Scotch Whisky industry has launched its manifesto for the Scottish Elections on 6th May.

29 July 2020

Commitment to Responsibility: SWA publishes revised Industry Marketing Code

The SWA has published the latest edition of its Code of Practice for Responsible Marketing.

11 June 2020

SWA welcomes re-start date for Scottish tourism

The Scottish government has announced that Scottish tourism businesses can prepare to re-open from 15th July.

26 February 2020

Industry action to help reduce alcohol harm is showcased at Holyrood event

The Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership (SAIP) held an event at the Scottish Parliament this week, sponsored by Miles Briggs MSP, and aimed at showcasing how the industry is tackling alcohol harm.

14 November 2019

Scotch Whisky Action Fund Commits Support to Six New Projects in Scotland

The Scotch Whisky Action Fund has announced the six projects across Scotland that it will be supporting in the coming year.

23 October 2019

Organisations come together for Scotch Whisky Action Fund learning event

The SWA has this week hosted a learning event featuring projects that received support from the Scotch Whisky Action Fund, which aims to tackle the effects of alcohol misuse.

22 August 2019

Scotch Whisky Action Fund pledges further support for innovative projects

The Scotch Whisky Action Fund, set up in 2013, has pledged a further year's support for two projects that each received funding in 2018: Bright Light's Families in Recovery, and Waverley Care's SX initiative.

05 April 2019

SWA extends commitment to tackling alcohol misuse

Scotch Whisky Action Fund to deliver £1 million of funding over 10 years

Responsible Drinking publications

01 November 2022

Code of Practice: 5th Edition

The Code of Practice covers all commercial communications by members. This includes advertising, promotional materials and sponsorship. The 5th edition was published in November 2022.

30 September 2022

Code of Practice: 5th Edition

The Code of Practice covers all commercial communications by members. This includes advertising, promotional materials and sponsorship. The 5th edition was published in the autumn of 2022.

14 January 2021

Scotch Whisky Action Fund: 5 year Impact Report

Read more about the Scotch Whisky Action Fund's first five years.

27 July 2020

Matured to be Enjoyed Responsibly - latest edition (July 2020)

This latest report is a snapshot of the activities being undertaken by the SWA and member companies to promote responsible consumption of alcohol, and supporting initiatives to tackle misuse.