The Spirits Drinks Verification Scheme was launched by the Chief Secretary of State to the Treasury Danny Alexander on Friday 10 January 2014.

Scotch Whisky is registered as a Geographical Indication under EU regulation (EC) No 110/2008. The regulation requires that Scotch Whisky can only be placed on to the market after it has been verified as compliant by HMRC in accordance with certain technical specifications. The verification scheme implements and strengthens this EU regulation and offers greater protection to Scotch Whisky.

The scheme will help to protect Scotch Whisky and assist consumers in the UK and abroad in identifying genuine products and avoiding fakes. The scheme will ensure that every part of the Scotch Whisky supply chain from distiller to consumer complies with all rules regarding the production of Scotch whisky.

Under the scheme businesses are required to apply to HMRC for verification that its production of Scotch Whisky meets the required technical specifications. Businesses must register all sites involved in the production of Scotch Whisky with HMRC.

A list of brands, production facilities and bulk importers that conform to the specifications will be published on the HMRC website.

Businesses that do not apply for verification or fail the verification visit will be unable to market the Scotch Whisky they produce.

David Frost, the newly appointed Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association said “Geographical Indication status is of great commercial value to the Scotch Whisky industry. This is a step change in the protection of Scotch Whisky and should be warmly received.”

Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP Chief Secretary to the Treasury said “the verification scheme will make sure people who buy Scotch Whisky get what they pay for - the finest spirit in the world.”

Scotch Whisky is the first major UK spirit to be protected under the scheme. However in time the scheme is likely to extend to other drinks with geographical origins such as Somerset Cider Brandy and Irish Whiskey produced in Northern Ireland.