Close Menu

Scotch whisky industry enraged by proposed government alcohol crackdown

Members of the Scotch whisky trade have voiced their outrage at Nicola Sturgeon’s government after a report claimed all alcohol products were “variations of the same thing” and proposed banning the sale of alcohol-branded merchandise.

Glass of whisky on moss: Scotch whisky industry enraged by proposed government alcohol crackdown

The report — part of a Scottish government consultation on restricting alcohol advertising and promotion — has come under fire from Scotch whisky makers and vendors.

Comments featured in the report included the claim that “without branding and other marketing strategies, alcohol products in each beverage sub-sector are essentially variations of the same thing”, sparking backlash.

Blair Bowman, an Edinburgh-based whisky consultant and broker, called the government’s “ignorance” on the topic “astounding”.

“In Scotch whisky making centuries of skill and craft to create a globally iconic spirit have been deemed to be just a gimmick,” he said on Twitter, stating that the government’s claim “that it’s all just the same thing if you remove branding is completely false and couldn’t be further from the truth”.

The report is currently at a consultation stage, with members of the public encouraged to give feedback on the proposals.

It also addresses alcohol sponsorship in sport by proposing to prohibit alcohol-branded sports merchandise, and suggests banning alcohol advertising in public spaces, further restricting visibility of alcohol in retail spaces, and prohibiting alcohol sponsorship of sports and events.

Scotch whisky, which by law can only be made in Scotland, is exported at a rate of 44 bottles per second, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

The association said it had “deep concerns” about the government’s sweeping proposals laid out within the consultation, which was launched in November.

‘The Scotch whisky industry has a robust marketing code which regulates how brands are advertised globally,” the SWA said. “We want to share the lessons of regulations already in place so there are no unintended consequences, including a reduction in the vital support the industry provides to communities.”

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No