It will be protected under the UK Geographical Indication (UKGI), which was created after Brexit and protects food or drink which is tied to a geographical location or made using traditional methods. The UKGI will protect the name, characteristics and authenticity of the whiskey.
The product will have the same protections as products such as Gower Salt Marsh Lamb and Welsh Leeks, and will join the ranks of other British favourites such as Scotch Whisky, Cornish Clotted Cream and Melton Mowbray Pork Pies.
As well as providing consumers with assurance that the product comes from Wales, it will also protect producers from the threat of imitator products encroaching on their sales.
The protections were announced at the Royal Welsh Show, which showcases Welsh agriculture, by Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
“Single Malt Welsh Whisky is widely acclaimed for its lightness of character and I am pleased to announce it will be the first protected spirit under our UKGI scheme at the Royal Welsh Show,” said Coffey
“It shows how the UK government is ready to get behind the best of British food and drink from across the nation - to boost sales at home and abroad, create jobs and grow our economy."
“Wales has a growing reputation for producing high quality food and drink and I’m delighted that Welsh whisky has now been recognised as deserving of this special status,” added Welsh Secretary David TC Davies.
“UK GI status is really important for distillers and helps them market this fantastic product around the world, and consumers know they are buying a unique product entirely made and bottled in Wales. All of this helps the industry to grow, supporting jobs and driving prosperity.”
Single Malt Welsh Whiskey, which has been produced since 1887, is made from malted barley and water, which are both of 100% Welsh origin. Now, only whiskies made like this can be called Single Malt Welsh Whiskey. In fact, every step in the production process must take place in Wales for the whiskey to be worthy of the name Welsh.
The product is only registered at four distillers across Wales, but between them, they export to more than 45 countries around the world, including France, Germany, the US and China. Most distilleries have their own well or borehole, through which they can access Welsh water.
The temperate and damp climate of Wales also helps the production process, allowing for an even rate of maturation that contributes to the whiskey’s unique flavour.
Stephen Davies, CEO of Penderyn Whiskey (one of Wales’ leading brands), said “the achievement of UKGI status for Single Malt Welsh Whisky is a significant milestone for Penderyn as a producer but also for the wider Welsh whisky industry.
“It assists in safe guarding both the quality of the product and also its source of origin. It’s an exciting step forward and one that puts focus on an industry that has been growing steadily over the last 20 years.”