Legal Protection in the UK
There are strict legal provisions which govern how Scotch Whisky is made, marketed and exported. The SWA helps to enforce these rules across our global markets.
Scotch Whisky has been defined by statute in the United Kingdom since 1933. The current definition is set out in the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 (“the UK Law”), which gives Scotch Whisky the best and most comprehensive protection that it has enjoyed to date. It covers every aspect of the making, bottling, labelling and promotion of Scotch Whisky.
What is Scotch Whisky?
The basic definition of Scotch Whisky can be found in the UK Law. In summary, Scotch Whisky is:
- Made in Scotland from only cereals, water and yeast
- Matured for a minimum of 3 years in oak casks
- Bottled at a minimum strength of 40% abv
- Distilled below 94.8% abv so that it retains the flavour and aroma derived from its raw materials
- No flavouring or sweetening is permitted
Categories of Scotch Whisky
The UK law defines five categories of Scotch Whisky:
news & commentary
SWA releases new guidance on personal investment in Scotch Whisky casks
The SWA has published guidance for individuals looking to invest in Scotch Whisky casks.
Scotch Whisky secures GI protection in Cambodia
Cambodia is the latest country in which Scotch Whisky's geographical indication is officially registered.
SWA legal team wins 'Team of the Year' award
The SWA has been recognised for its work to protect Scotch Whisky at an awards ceremony in Boston.
SWA Comments on Glen Buchenbach case
Our case against Glen Buchenbach presented clear and compelling evidence to the court that 'Glen' is strongly associated with Scotland and Scotch Whisky, and the only reason to use 'Glen' for a German whisky is because of its undoubted association with Scotch Whisky.
Scotch Whisky granted certification trademark in South Africa
'Scotch Whisky' registered as a certification trademark in South Africa
Protecting Scotch in the age of Brexit
The UK is preparing for a time of great change as we approach Brexit. Leaving the European Union will undoubtedly have a major impact on British industries and exporters, including Scotch Whisky.
SWA secures GI protection for Scotch Whisky in New Zealand
Scotland's national drink has secured enhanced legal protection in New Zealand after the Scotch Whisky Association's application to register "Scotch Whisky" as a Geographical Indication (GI) was successful.
10 year renewal of Scotch Whisky trademark in China announced during Prime Minister trade visit
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has renewed its collective trademarks 'SCOTCH WHISKY' and its translation '苏格兰威士忌' in China until November 2028. As a result, Scotch Whisky is officially protected from locally produced copies for a further 10 years.
Guidance: Personal investment in a Scotch Whisky Cask
The SWA has produced guidance for consumers of what to consider when investing in a cask of Scotch Whisky.
Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009: Guidance for Producers and Bottlers
The following guidance is aimed at assisting those producing and selling Scotch Whisky, and those designing labels, packaging and advertising, to comply with the 2009 Scotch Whisky Regulations.