Protecting Brands:The Spirits Drinks Verification Scheme
The idea of this scheme is to provide a safeguard for the reputation and authenticity of UK spirit drinks with a geographical indication. Ultimately this scheme, launched by Liberal Democrat Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander, has been constructed in order to protect consumers from ‘fake’ bottles of whisky. If producers are seeking to sell within the European Union then it is imperative that they sign up to the scheme.
You may ask yourself the question as to how necessary such a scheme is, however figures have proven that the problem of counterfeit scotch is understood to cost the whisky industry around £500 million a year, which equates to around 10% of its sales. Therefore the Government’s plans to begin a scheme which maps out the production stages of the drink, showing that it is made to the correct standards in Scotland, is without doubt very necessary.
The scheme operates by forcing all business involved in any stage of the production of Scotch whisky to register with HMRC, listing all their relevant sites within and outside of Scotland. This includes distilleries, maturation facilities, blending and bottling plants. Bottlers of Scotch whisky abroad will also be subject to controls.
Mr Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:
“I’m delighted that this scheme is now up and running, helping protect one of the UK’s most important and successful export industries. The verification scheme will make sure people who buy Scotch get what they pay for – the finest spirit in the world. The Scotch Whisky industry is now worth around £4bn to the Scottish economy and employs more than 10,000 people in Scotland.
“The booming Scotch Whisky industry is a huge asset to Scotland and the UK which benefits from being part of the UK and European market. The UK Government is doing its bit today to step in and make sure cheap fakes don’t undermine this unique global export.”
Protection under the new rules will in future be extended to other drinks with a geographical origin, such as Somerset Cider Brandy and whiskey from Northern Ireland.
Harry Jeffries (Law Student)