Scotch Whisky Association

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Alcohol badge.jpg This article is part of the Spinwatch public health oriented Alcohol Portal project.

Scotch Whisky is a leading Scottish export, worth over £2bn annually to the UK economy. To qualify as Scotch, whisky must be distilled in Scotland, though bottling can take place anywhere. The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is a licensed trade association representing 56 whisky producers who account for 95 per cent of Scotch whisky producers.

The association is headed by an annually elected council of 12-16 members who establish committees to focus on areas of action to strengthen the position of association members. With offices in Edinburgh and London the SWA aim to: "protect and promote the integrity of Scotch Whisky worldwide, promote responsible attitudes to alcohol consumption, fight for fair tax and access to international markets, and to represent the industry's interests at governmental level both at home and abroad". [1]

On the voluntary European Commission register of interests SWA list their fields of interest as agriculture competition, consumer affairs, customs, enlargement, enterprise, environment, external relations, external trade, food safety, internal market, public health and taxation. [2] This extensive list of interests gives some insight into the extent to which the organisation is involved in key public debates within European policy circles.

Twenty-pound-notes.jpg This article is part of the Lobbying Portal, a sunlight project from Spinwatch.

Lobbying Against Minimum Pricing

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is fiercely opposed to the introduction of minimum pricing per unit of alcohol which is supported by the public health community and the Scottish Government. SWA have been at the forefront of challenging the proposed legislation in Scotland. They claim that under European Law imposing a minimum price is against economic competition law and use the example of the European Court's rejection of the implementation of a minimum price for tobacco in France, Austria and Ireland. [3] As the SWA will know the European Court is not bound by previous rulings and therefore if it can be convinced that the measure is a step towards improving public health it may well rule in favour of minimum pricing. The Scottish Labour Party echoed the calls of the SWA and asked the Scottish Government to state the legal basis for their plans to protect public health. Then shadow health spokesperson for Labour Cathy Jamieson said: "We have always said that the legal basis for the SNP's minimum pricing policy needed clarification." [4]

The Scotch Whisky Association has been one of the key alcohol industry organisations lobbying against the introduction of a minimum pricing for alcohol, together with the Wine and Spirits Association and the British Retail Consortium. The Scottish Government published a bill in November 2009 that contained plans to reduce overall consumption of alcohol in Scotland by a range of measures including the proposed minimum price per unit of alcohol. Weeks before the bill was published the SWA invited public affairs and lobbying companies to support their opposition to the inclusion of minimum pricing. An internal SWA document voiced concerns that the step to improve public health in Scotland would have a negative impact on international sales. [5] According to Bryan Christie, writing in the BMJ:

The Scotch Whisky Association’s document says that “a more assertive and populist message is now thought to be necessary with the clear objective of securing the absence of minimum pricing in the Bill and from the final Act.” It says that the key audiences are the media, consumers, and trade, “with the objective of removing any popular and political support for minimum pricing.” [6]



Current Directors

Past Board Members


Circa 2007

Adelphie Distillery | Balblair Distillery, part of Inverhouse within InterBev owned by Thai Beverages Plc | Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc Owned by Fortune Brands| Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Ltd Owned by Asahi| Berry Bros & Rudd Ltd | Blairmhor Distillers, part of Inverhouse within InterBev owned by Thai Beverages Plc | Blairmhor, part of Inverhouse within InterBev owned by Thai Beverages Plc | Buchanan, James & Co Ltd owned by Diageo| Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd Owned by CL Worldwide Brands, Trinidad| Catto, James & Co part of Inverhouse within InterBev owned by Thai Beverages Plc | Chivas Brothers Ltd| Dewar, John & Sons Ltd Owned by Bacardi Ltd| Dewar Rattray Ltd | Diageo plc | Diageo Great Britain Ltd | Diageo Distilling Ltd | Diageo Scotland Ltd| The Edrington Group Ltd| Fisher, Donald Ltd owned by Diageo| Glen Grant Distillery Co Ltd owned by Chivas Bros | Glenmorangie Majority owner Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey minority owner Diageo | Glenglassaugh Owned by Edrington Group| Gordon & Macphail | J&G Grant | William Grant & Sons Ltd| John Haig & Co Ltd owned by Diageo| J&W Hardie Ltd, Owned by Takara Shuzo Co.Ltd. Japan| Harvies of Edinburgh (UK) Ltd | Harvies of Edinburgh International Ltd | Highland Distillers Ltd | International Whisky Co Ltd | Inver House Distillers Ltd part of InterBev owned by Thai Beverages Plc | D. Johnston & Co (Laphroaig) Ltd | Justerini & Brooks Ltd owned by Diageo| Kilchoman Distillery Co Ltd | Knockdhu Distillery Co Ltd part of Inverhouse within InterBev owned by Thai Beverages Plc | Laing, Douglas & Co Ltd | WM Lawson Distillers Ltd | London & Scottish International Ltd| Macdonald Greenlees Ltd owned by Diageo | Macleod, Ian Distillers Ltd | Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd Owned by Japanese conglomerate Suntay | North British Distillery Co Ltd| Old St Andrews Limited | Pulteney Distillery Co Ltd part of Inverhouse within InterBev owned by Thai Beverages Plc | Russell, Peter J & Co Ltd| Sanderson, Wm & Son Ltd owned by Diageo | Scotch Malt Whisky Society | Speyburn Distillery Co Ltd Owned by Inverhouse within InterBev owned by Thai Beverages Plc | Wm Teacher & Sons Ltd Since 2006 owned in partnership by Pernod Ricard and Fortune Brands| Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd Owned by Japanese firm Takora Shuzo | United Distillers plc owned by Diageo| John Walker & Sons Ltd owned by Diageo| White Horse Distillers Ltd owned by Diageo | Whyte & Mackay Group Ltd| [21]


  1. SWA Website About SWA Last Accessed 2nd July 2007
  2. European Commission Register of Interest Representatives Scotch Whisky Association accessed 25th November 2009
  3. Scotch Whisky Association 22nd October 2009 MINIMUM PRICING ILLEGAL EUROPEAN COURT RULES accessed 23rd February 2010
  4. BBC News Scotland 22nd October 2009 Court ruling on minimum pricing accessed 23rd February 2010
  5. Bryan Christie 2009, Fear of minimum alcohol pricing spreading to other countries led to opposition in Scotland BMJ 2009;339:b5339 accessed 17th March 2010
  6. Bryan Christie 2009, Fear of minimum alcohol pricing spreading to other countries led to opposition in Scotland BMJ 2009;339:b5339 accessed 17th March 2010
  7. Federation Against Software Theft Lobbying & Liaising accessed 2nd February 2010
  8. Scottish Parliament, Cross-Party Groups in the Scottish Parliament- Registration Form, no date given, accessed 5th October 2011
  9. Scotch Whisky Association, New Chairman for Scotch Whisky as exports break records 2nd December Press Release, accessed 5th December 2011
  10. Whisky News, June 26 2007 Global Market Review of Blended Whisky – Forecasts to 2012 accessed 9th October 2009
  11. Inverhouse History accessed 9th October 2009
  12. Scotsman Business 24th August 2009 Diageo set to report slide in sales after downturn kicks in accessed 9th October2009
  13. Beam Global Wine and Spirits, Who We Are accessed 9th October
  14. Scotsman Business 13th July 2008 Dewar's whisky boss Gray set to go accessed 9th October 2009
  15. Whisky Pages Whisky News, August 2009 accessed 9th October
  16. Equinet The Bowmore Blair Castle International Horse Trials and Country Fair accessed 9th October 2009
  17. Pernod Ricard Pierre Pringuet accessed 9th October 2009
  18. Campden FB Tuesday 13th May 2008 Whisky company toasts fifth-generation chairman accessed 9th October 2009
  19. FAME Business Database Subscription Required
  20. FAME Business Database Subscription Required
  21. SWA Website Members Directory Last Accessed 2nd July 2007