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Issue 104 - The Flavour Challenge

Whisky Magazine Issue 104
June 2012

 

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The Flavour Challenge

Commentator, consultant and writer Ian Buxton's latest book 101 World Whiskies to Try Before You Die is released on July 5

As students of the international drinks scene will know, flavoured spirits seem to be growing. Whether it's mango or bubble-gum vodka the craze seems unstoppable.

What's more, it's affecting whisky. From Canada we have Revel Stoke Spiced; from the USA Jack Daniels' Tennessee Honey, Jim Beam Honey and Black Cherry; and from Ireland the recently-released Bushmills Irish Honey. All feature a get-up very similar to that of the parent brands but are typically described as “infused with real honey” or “a blend of whiskey, real honey and other natural flavors.” Flavors? The spelling gives the game away, of course. For the most part, these products are designed for the US market and they are aiming to bring new drinkers into the parent brand. So what is Scotch doing about all this? Should it, in fact, do anything?

In theory, purists have nothing to fear.

According to a spokesman for the SWA: “If one adds flavourings to Scotch whisky, or indeed any whisky as defined in the EU Spirits Regulation, that product is no longer Scotch whisky or whisky; it is a new product based on Scotch whisky and whisky and must be described and labelled accordingly.

“Even if the industry and the UK Government wanted to change the definition of Scotch whisky to allow the use of flavourings, it could not do so, as flavourings are prohibited in whisky under the EU Spirits Regulation. Furthermore, any change to EU law requires to be negotiated with the 27 member states.” Legally then, Jim Be...

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