'Whisky' war breaks out as SWA accuses Arkay of illegal promotional claim

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Alcoholic beverage

'Whisky' war breaks out as SWA accuses Arkay of illegal promotional claim
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has warned consumers "not to be taken in" by a new product claiming to be the world's first alcohol-free whisky and has signalled its intent to fight against the introduction of an illegal product.

Florida-based Arkay Beverages said its 'alcohol-free whisky' would be available from December 1, but the SWA said that whisky is, internationally, understood to be a distilled beverage made from cereals and aged in wooden barrels.

Arkay Beverages launched what it described as "the world's first alcohol-free, whisky-flavoured drink made with only certified Halal ingredients"​ two weeks ago.

The company said the product was designed for individuals, "who due to health or religious reasons cannot consume alcohol, people who simply choose not to drink or are concerned with the consequences of drinking and driving".

Claiming that Arkay's promotional claim, describing the product as whisky, was illegal under UK and European law, the SWA said that laws were in place to maintain the reputation of whisky as a quality product and to protect consumers.

An SWA spokeswoman told BeverageDaily.com that the association had not found the 'whisky' on sale anywhere in the UK as yet. "But we're monitoring the situation, and if it does appear on sale then we'll decide then what action to take,"​ she said.

European legislation prohibits, with very limited exceptions, the name “whisky” from being used to describe or present in any way whatsoever any drink other than whisky," said Glen Barclay, SWA director of legal affairs.

He added: “Such promotion is taking advantage of the high quality reputation of the product that is whisky - which is a distilled spirit produced from natural ingredients - when it is in fact just a soft drink with artificial flavourings. Not only will consumers be confused but such a product unfairly trades on the reputation of genuine whisky.

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2 comments

Black Zero nonsense

Posted by Ron,

I think you'll find the claims made on the Black Zero bottle to be nonsense. Getting the spelling of both 'Scottish' and 'whisky' wrong indicates something amiss with their claims. Agree with your comments regarding the SWA, but don't think was anything to do with sheltering Scots producers.

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0.0% Scotch made in Scotland since 2008

Posted by DavindeK,

According to one whisky chat board, Black Zero scotch has been distilled blended and bottled in Scotland since 2008. Black Zero contains no alcohol whatsoever and is made especially for people whose religious faith keeps them from drinking alcohol. In addition to alcohol-free scotch they also make alcohol-free vodka.

Perhaps the SWA missed that one because they were busy figuring out how to confuse people about blended malts, or perhaps they simply chose to ignore it because it was being made by Scots? In either case this new campaign is a further step in the already-well-advanced and self-inflicted crushing of their credibility.

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