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Association relaunched

Distillers offer drinkers a new quality threshold

Alan Wolstenholme

Alan Wolstenholme: ‘unprecedented boom’


A drinks lobby representing distillers in Scotland is fine-tuning its quality criteria to give consumers greater confidence in the country’s spirits.

The newly-titled Scottish Distillers Association is introducing an accreditation programme that also aims to offer some safeguards to makers of gin, vodka and rum which do not share whisky’s protection in law.

It will recruit more Scotland-based distillers but limit membership to those who follow strict criteria and join the programme.  

The criteria are designed to improve transparency in the production of Scottish spirits and assist the consumer in making better informed buying decisions.

Alan Wolstenholme, chairman of the SDA, said: “The distilling sector is going through an unprecedented boom which brings opportunity, but also a responsibility to set some essential guidelines for spirit production. 

“The accreditation will help consumers have confidence in the quality and craftmanship which has gone into the spirit they are choosing.”

Any distiller in Scotland can apply to become accredited by the SDA but only qualify by following a strict code of practice.

Mr Wolstenholme added: “The place naming of Scottish spirits, particularly gin, has been debated at length among our members.  We are concerned about consumers being duped into buying a product named after a place in Scotland when in fact it has been made elsewhere, in some cases an entirely different country. 

“This practice, which fortunately is still relatively rare in Scotland, needs to be prevented from escalating any further.  We are asking for distillers to make reasonable claims around the location where their products are made.  

We believe that this is essential to protect the incredible global reputation we have in Scotland for producing premium quality spirits.   

“While whisky is already protected in law, we need to consider extending this into all our Scottish spirits to include gin, vodka, rum or even absinthe.”

The news comes eight months after the Association began working alongside Scotland Food and Drink which has delivered an executive service to the membership and delivered a range of benefits including access to buyers and global market intelligence. 

The Scottish Distillers Association now represents 21 distilleries in Scotland and will be promoting its new brand at this week’s Scottish Gin Awards which takes place on Thursday in Glasgow.

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