The Scotch Whisky Act 1988 and The Scotch Whisky Order 1990 define Scotch Whisky in UK law. Under the legislation, Scotch Whisky means whisky:
(a) which has been produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added) all of which have been:
(i) processed at that distillery into a mash;
(ii) converted to a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems; and
(iii) fermented only by the addition of yeast;
(b) which has been distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8% so that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production;
(c) which has been matured in an excise warehouse in Scotland in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres, the period of that maturation being not less than three years;
(d) which retains the colour, aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production and maturation.
(e) and to which no substance other than water and spirit caramel has been added.
EU Definition of Scotch Whisky
(a) Whisky or whiskey is a spirit drink:
(1) produced by the distillation of a mash made from malted cereals with or without whole grains of other cereals,
(2) saccharified by the diastase of the malt contained therein, with or without other natural enzymes,
(3) fermented by the action of yeast,
(4) distilled by one or more distillations at less than 94,8 % vol., so that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used,
(5) subject to maturation of the final distillate for at least three years in wooden casks not exceeding 700 litres capacity.
The distillate, to which only water and plain caramel may be added, retains its colour, aroma and taste derived from the production process referred to in points (1) to (5).
(b) The minimum alcoholic strength by volume of whisky orwhiskey shall be 40%.
(c) Whisky or whiskey shall not contain added ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin.
(d) Whisky or whiskey shall not be sweetened or flavoured, nor contain any additives other than plain caramel colouring.
There is an odd Amendment:
Sweetening means using one or more of the following products in the preparation of spirit drinks:
(a) semi-white sugar, white sugar, refined white sugar, dextrose, fructose, glucose syrup, liquid sugar, invert liquid sugar syrup, as defined in Council Directive 2001/111/EC;
(b) rectified concentrated grape must, concentrated grape must, fresh grape must;
(c) burned sugar, which is the product obtained exclusivelyfrom the controlled heating of sucrose without bases, mineral acids or other chemical additives;
(d) honey as defined in Council Directive 2001/110/EC;
(e) carob syrup;
(f) any other natural carbohydrate substances having a similar effect to those products;
(g) sweeteners as defined in Directive 94/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.
An amusing Paradox: “Whisky or whiskey shall not be sweetened”.
Definition of sweetening, which is not permissible: burned sugar, which is the product obtained exclusively from the controlled heating of sucrose without bases, mineral acids or other chemical additives.
Definition of caramel, which is permissible: burned sugar, which is the product obtained exclusively from the controlled heating of sucrose without bases, mineral acids or other chemical additives;