Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Case of Not So Rare

Have you noticed that the word "RARE" is no longer on a bottle of J&B or at least, by law, it should NOT be on the bottle or label. What defines a rare whisky? Would you expect to find a rare whisky in a medium priced Scotch? Has the SCOTCH WHISKY ASSOCIATION been unclear in it's definition allowed in Scotch whisky labels?

There are four Scotch whisky definitions:
  1. Single Malt Scotch Whisky - a single distillate from one distillery; is made with 100% barley & is distilled in copper pot stills.
  2. Blended Malt Scotch whisky - a blend of Single Malt Whiskies from many distilleries; each is made with 100% barley & is distilled in copper pot stills.
  3. Blended Scotch Whisky - a blend of many different Single Malt whiskies (see point 2); is blended with grain whisky & is distilled in continuos stills that also produce Vodka. Grain whisky is made using other cereals such as wheat, corn, rye etc.
  4. Grain Whisky - is mostly made using cereals other than barley and the process uses continuous stills as apposed to copper pot stills.
All Scotch whiskies are matured in oak casks for a minimum of three years - both single malt and grain whiskies.

The reason for this definition was to avoid suppliers from deceiving consumers about their whiskies by using words to elevate the whiskies status.

The Scotch Whisky Association did a great job to implement these measures to guarantee customers are not deceived. It is now up to the industry to educate the consumers and to abide by the rules. There are still many whiskies that bend the rules. My research for this article focused on J&B's online communication. Every search related to J&B still shows the word Rare on the label. Even the JB website still shows the word RARE.

J&B is a good Blended Scotch Whisky even though there are no rare whiskies in the bottle. I could as easily have picked on other whiskies that also used fluffy words. As an educated consumer, please check your whiskies and challenge them if they do not adhere to the four approved definitions.

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