SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP was today celebrating a vote in the European Parliament which paves the way to giving "uisge beatha Albannach" - Scotch whisky in Gaelic - full recognition in EU law.

The vote was on new European legislation relating to the labelling requirements for alcohol spirits. EU legislation gives recognition to certain quality spirit drinks such as Scotch whisky and protects the name Scotch from foreign imitations. Today's vote extends that protection to "uisge beatha Albannach" - bringing Scotch into line with the situation already existing in relation to Irish whiskey.
Speaking after the vote, Mr Hudghton commented:

"Glasses can be raised from Brussels to Benbecula tonight to celebrate this symbolic victory in the European Parliament. Scotland's proud whisky making heritage has long been recognised across Europe - and now some recognition has been given to our nation's linguistic heritage too.

"A number of whisky brands already bottle their product with Gaelic labels, so it's only right that 'uisge beatha Albannach' should be given the same legal protection as is afforded to the words 'Scotch whisky'.

Ireland's distillers have for some time had legal protection for their whiskey in the Irish language, and so Scottish Gaelic can now be brought into line.

"I'm hoping to meet with representatives from the whisky industry to discuss practical issues which may arise from the European Parliament vote. In the meantime, we can enjoy a few toasts ahead of this month's National Mod.

"Robert Burns famously wrote that 'freedom and whisky gang thegither'. It's only appropriate therefore that we should have the freedom to enjoy Scotland's national drink - together with Scotland's national languages".

Notes:

The European Parliament vote was on proposed legislation updating the rules on the labelling of spirit drinks.
"Scotch whisky" is currently recognised by the EU as a geographical indicator, meaning that legally only whisky from Scotland can carry the term.
The terms "Irish whisky", "Irish whiskey" and "uisce beatha Eireannach/Irish whiskey" are also currently recognised geographical indicators. Today's vote seeks to give the same status to "uisge beatha Albannach/ Scotch whisky".
Under the original EU proposal, the use of the Gaelic translation would have been illegal. Under the successful SNP proposal distillers and blenders will have the option to use Gaelic labelling but will not be required to do so.

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