JAPAN WHISKY PRODUCERS SET STRICTER RULES FOR THE "JAPANESE WHISKY" LABEL
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Credit: Shitota Yuri/Unsplash
The Japan Spirits & Liquers Makers Association (JSLMA) has announced a set of regulations to tighten the use of the "Japanese whisky" label, started from 1 April, members will only label whiskies distilled and matured in Japan as "Japanese whisky".
For a long time in Japan, any product with 10% whisky in it can be labelled as whisky, and there is no rules governing the use of the "Japanese" reference.
The new regulations also covered the use of raw ingredients, minimum ageing requirements, bottling strength and the use of colouring. Full details are:
-the only raw ingredients allowed for use in production are malted grains, cereal grains and water extracted in Japan. Malted grains must always be used.
-fermentation, distillation and saccharification must take place in a distillery located in Japan, with the alcohol volume of the distillate not allowed to go above 95% in strength.
-wood casks with a maximum capacity of 700 litres must be used for the maturation of the distilled product, and have to be matured in Japan for a minimum of 3 years.
-bottling has to take place in Japan, and the whisky has to have a minimum ABV of 40%
-plain caramel colouring (also known as E150a) is allowed to be added, this is a common practice in whisky production around the world
The severe shortage of Japanese whisky in recent years has tempted some companies to exploit the lax rules to label products that are not made in Japan as "Japanese whisky".
Some used imported Scotch whisky, topped with some Japanese whisky and label it as "Japanese whisky", others even mixed imported Scotch with Shochu and some Japanese whisky and call it "Japanese whisky".
As it stands, these new regulations are only industry self-regulations and are not legally binding.
Though members of JSLMA - including leading producers like Suntory and Asahi - will observe the new regulations, there is nothing to stop a producer who is not a member to continue to release dubiously labelled products.
(the writer can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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