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Labelling Requirements for Scotch Whisky Bottles

Ever picked a whisky because you liked the look of the label? We’ve all been there. There are several rules relating to the labelling of Scotch whisky and the labels themselves carry a great deal of detail. Labels are regulated by law to ensure transparency and accuracy. 

So, when browsing the shelves, how do you decipher the clues and decide what’s what without getting lost? While the specific requirements may vary slightly depending on the country where the whisky is sold, generally, the following information must legally be printed on a Scotch whisky label.

 1. Name

e.g. Monkey Shoulder

The label must clearly indicate the brand name. The brand or distillery name tells you who made the whisky and will usually be given a lot of space on the label for obvious reasons. Brand recognition can be important and certainly carries a lot of weight but if it’s a name you are unfamiliar with, you’ll have to delve a bit deeper before deciding if it’s right for you.

2. Type

e.g. Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

The type or classification of Scotch whisky. The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 defines five categories of Scotch, with ingredients and production methods varying across the range.

3. Volume

e.g 1 Litre

The volume of whisky contained in the bottle, typically expressed in litres or millilitres. Scotch whisky is usually bottled at 70cl or 700ml.

4. Alcohol Content

e.g 40 % vol

The Alcohol By Volume (ABV) percentage of the whisky. This tells you how strong the whisky is. By law Scotch whisky must be bottled at no less than 40% ABV.

5. Producer or Bottler Information

e.g. William Grant & Sons Ltd, Scotland ML4 3AN

The name and address of the distillery or bottler responsible for producing or bottling the whisky. The label should indicate that the whisky is produced in Scotland.

Some labels may include a batch or lot number for traceability purposes. And, if the whisky carries an age statement (the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle), this must be displayed prominently on the label.

As whisky contains allergens (barley), this information must be provided on the label. Similarly, you'll often find a government-mandated health warning about the risks of alcohol consumption on the label. It's important for producers to ensure that their labels comply with all relevant regulations to avoid any legal issues and to provide consumers with accurate information about the whisky they are purchasing.


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