The SWA banned triple and partial triple distillation in Scotland to distinguish it from the booming Irish whiskey category. Auchentoshan may have to close, and Springbank and Mortlach face costly adaptations to their production process, potentially doubling prices on all Springbank whisky as triple and partial triple distillation gets banned in Scotland effective 1 May 2018. Distillers have one year to make adjustments. Any triple or partially triple distilled stocks currently maturing will have to be bottled by 30 April 2018 to be considered “existing stocks”.
Additionally, existing stocks may be sold in the UK and Europe only until the end of 2019, after which the word “Scotch Whisky” will have to be erased, or otherwise covered with a sticker, in all EU countries. The US and other markets will not be affected by the existing stock sales embargo in 2020.
BenRiach is expected to simply abandon making any further runs of it’s triple distilled versions.
Reportedly, the SWA told Beam Suntory’s Morrison Bowmore Division that Auchentoshan can be moved to another part of the UK or to Ireland if they wish to maintain triple distillation, but refused to consider lifting the ban. Thus, it seems that Scotland will indeed be triple distillation free by 2018.
It is unclear what Auchentoshan will do with existing stocks maturing in warehouses, but Beam Suntory officials have said that one option is running it through a continuous still to turn into grain whisky.
Springbank will have to make some serious adjustments to it’s distillation process, eliminating the work done by the middle still doing a mid partial distillation (bringing the low wines ABV up to around 35%), which then makes up 80% of the real spirit run. Additionally, Springbank will be banned from making its Hazelburn brand completely, with Longrow will be poised to take central stage for the distillery over the next decade or so.
Diageo’s Leven Experimental Distillery’s twin stills, named Isabella and Grace, have already been fitted with Mortlach heads to experiment with ways to keep Mortlach’s beefy character through a regular double distillation, losing their signature 2.81 distillation process.