The Scotch Whisky Technical File was recently updated and the changes will give producers even more room for creativity and innovation.
Scotch, as a geographical indicator within the European Union, has a lot of regulations regarding how it is made. These are held in a document called the Scotch Whisky Technical File.
The Scotch Whisky Association, the industry body, has recently announced changes to the Scotch Whisky Technical File that mean producers have more freedom choosing casks for maturation.
What the rules actually say
The exact wording of the new regulations goes likes this:
“The spirit must be matured in new oak casks and/or in oak casks which have only been used to mature wine (still or fortified) and/or beer/ale and/or spirits with the exception of:
- wine, beer/ale or spirits produced from, or made with, stone fruits
- beer/ale to which fruit, flavouring or sweetening has been added after fermentation
- spirits to which fruit, flavouring or sweetening has been added after distillation
and where such previous maturation is part of the traditional processes for those wines, beers/ales or spirits.
Regardless of the type of cask used, the resulting product must have the traditional colour, taste and aroma characteristics of Scotch Whisky.”
That’s a lot of information. But in essence, what they actually mean, is that Scotch can now be matured in casks that once held things like Tequila, Mezcal, Baijiu, and Shochu, amongst many others. This was previously prohibited.
New opportunities for Scotch
The most exciting part about this is the chances it opens up for Scotch producers to be creative. The industry is constantly looking to improve how it does things, and this is the perfect opportunity for creators to bring in new maturation styles.
At some point in Scotch’s past, Sherry casks weren’t used, or Bourbon casks, or any kind of wine casks, but then something changed and everyone realised how these could influence flavour.
The same can be said for whatever types of casks producers choose to work with going forward. Just like with Sherry matured malt,this allows producers to create whole new flavour profiles.
This is an exciting time for Scotch, but don’t expect to see Tequila matured malt on the shelves tomorrow. It will take a while for things to take effect and for Scotch to actually mature in the casks.
This is a positive step for the industry though, and only time will tell what amazing creations we get to try next!