* Scotch exports up 3 pct in '09 to 3.1 bln pounds
* Scotch makers agree to new rules to protect industry
By Martinne Geller
NEW YORK, April 15 Global exports of Scotch
whisky rose 3 percent to a record 3.13 billion pounds ($4.85
billion) last year, just as the industry took steps to clarify
its labeling and protect itself from fakes.
Scotch whisky accounts for about a quarter of all food and
drink exports from the United Kingdom and over 80 percent of
those from Scotland.
It ranges from single malts like The Glenlivet from Pernod
Ricard (PERP.PA), in which all the whisky comes from one
distillery, to blended types like Diageo's (DGE.L) Johnnie
Walker, which includes whisky from two or more distilleries.
By volume, exports of Scotch whisky rose 4 percent to the
equivalent of 1.1 billion bottles shipped in 2009, according to
the Scotch Whisky Association.
The United States remained Scotch whisky's largest market
by value, with shipments rising 13 percent to 419 million
pounds. That is equal to the highest previous shipment value
level, achieved in 2007, despite the weak economy which kept
many drinkers away from bars and restaurants.
The value of Scotch exports also rose 6 percent in Africa
and 18 percent in Central and South America, with a 73 percent
increase in Venezuela.
Exports to the European Union fell 1 percent, as the weak
economy in Spain led to a 5 percent decline there. Exports to
Asia fell 9 percent, fueled by a 24 percent drop in South
Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky
Association, said he expects the industry's overall growth to
continue, helped by the new rules which he said will help
distillers as well as consumers.
"This is very much to protect Scotch whisky from fakes and
also to help the consumer understand what he's drinking, what
he's choosing and to make sure that if he's choosing something
he wants, he gets what he wants," Hewitt said in an interview.
The new rules, passed in November, include requirements
that single malt whiskies are bottled in Scotland and clearly
state what distillery it comes from.
Most single malts are named for their distilleries, which
are often named for their locations, but Hewitt said there have
been some whiskies named for towns without distilleries in
order to make it seem like they come from there.
There are also rules about how to label whiskies, including
statements about the category of whisky and how long it has
For example, Hewitt said distillers can no longer use the
word "pure" to describe a malt, since that does not make it
clear whether something is a single malt, a blended malt or a
Blended malts include a variety of single malts but none of
the grain whisky that would otherwise turn it into a blended
whisky. A popular blended malt is Johnnie Walker Green Label,
whose slogan was "The Art of Pure Malt".
Diageo's marketing director for Scotch, Dan Kleinman, said
the brand changed its label to adhere to the new rules but that
consumers may continue to see the older labels on shelves until
they are restocked with the newer packages.
Diageo Chief Executive Paul Walsh is also chairman of the
Scotch Whisky Association.
Whisky makers have a two-year transition period during
which they can change their labels to reflect the new rules.
(Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Bernard Orr)