Words by Simon Difford
In accordance with the Scotch Whisky Act of 1988, for a whisky to be termed a ‘Scotch whisky’ it must be distilled in Scotland from fermented cereal grains, yeast and water. Maturation must also be in Scotland for minimum of three years in oak casks no larger than 700 litres.
In addition to the above, to be termed a Scotch whisky:
1. Cereal grain must be the only source of starch.
2. Enzymes must be natural enzymes from malted barley (it is not permitted for enzymes to be added).
3. No additives are permitted other than water and spirit caramel for colour correction.
Scotch whisky is the only type of whisk(e)y that can be made in Scotland. I.e. Any product made in Scotland and sold as whisk(e)y must confirm to the above.
Until the 1830s almost all Scottish whisky was made exclusively from malted barley and produced in pot stills - i.e., it was what we would today call 'malt whisky'. However, two developments brought about 'Scottish grain whisky' and 'Scotch blended whisky'. The first was the development of a new type of still, known variously as the column still, patent still, continuous still or Coffey still; the second was the repeal of the British Corn Laws.