London, Apr.12 : A new classification, which is due to go before Parliament this summer, could undermine Scotland's famous single malts and lead to distillery closures and job losses, feel whisky purists.
An online petition will be presented to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs next month in an attempt to stop the introduction of a "blended malt" category to describe Scotch made of malts from different distilleries.
Titled "No! to Blended Malt Scotch Whisky", the campaign argues that the move would cause confusion among consumers by combining the descriptions of the two main types of Scotch - blended whisky and single malt whisky.
Blended malt, the new category, put forward by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the trade body for the industry, was described by one independent distillery yesterday as an attempt to promote the interests of larger companies such as Diageo and Pernod Ricard at the expense of smaller firms.
Jim Murray, author of Jim Murray's Whisky Bible, said that the new category was potentially the biggest mistake in the industry for 100 years.
John Glaser, founder of the specialist Scotch whisky maker Compass Box, has put the petition forward.
It says: "The main problem stems from the fact that 'blended Scotch whisky' (the term currently used to describe a blend of grain whisky and malt whisky) is not understood by most Scotch consumers. Further, the word 'blend', in relation to Scotch whisky, is associated with bad or inferior in the minds of too many people."
According to The Times, the five categories being put forward in the legislation, intended to consolidate the definition of Scotch, are: single malt; single grain; blended malt; blended grain; and blended whisky (a mixture of malt and grain whiskies).
The blended malt description has been used with increasing frequency in recent years, and has seen strong sales growth.