We all know that laws are there for a purpose. To protect the right of others, and in the single malt whisky industry this is exactly the same. After all we don’t want to be buying a whisky advertised as ‘Scotch’ whisky, only to find it had been produced in some Eastern European country.
Are These Laws Good or Bad?
The spirit has to be matured for a minimum of three years, be kept in oak casks, and must have spent the 3 years on Scottish soil. It has to be bottled at no less than 40% ABV and must be made out of grains. If it is for a single malt whisky, then only barley can be used and has to be produced in a pot still. No additives are allowed to be used.
So what’s wrong with that?
- Additives. While no one wants to have additives in their food, the regulations on single malt whisky isn’t really logical. For example you can’t add staves to the cask while maturing. This isn’t an additive, but something to aid in the maturation process for it’s flavour. After all the wine and sherry that has soaked into the wood is also there to add to the flavour. However you can add e150a which is colouring caramel. This doesn’t affect the taste, but just the colour.
- Why just oak casks?
- The definition of a pot still. In 2008 the law was changed and now single malt has to be produced in a copper POT still. Before then it was just a copper still. For example Loch Lomond whisky – they’ve been producing single malt whisky in a copper still since the opened in the 1840s. Now because of the law it’s no longer single malt. What changed – the law or the whisky?
- The laws protect the term Scotch and Scotch Whisky. So it means that we know what we are buying. Also the various whisky producing regions are also protected. So a Speyside whisky is really from Speyside, not something impersonating them.
- We don’t want whiskies to go down the road of using artificial flavours, additives and sulfates like what has happened with the wine industry. The drink will remain the same pure drink that it has been for hundreds of years.
- Oak casks – well I suppose that the oak is an integral part of the whisky taste that anything else will be going too far from what is truly a Scotch whisky.
So what are your thoughts on the subject? Let us know. Do you know of any other strange laws governing the production single malt whisky?
Thanks to this blog for some of the information used.