Bacardi court controversy with deal to bottle Lawson's Scotch whisky in Russia

William Lawson's whisky, one of the best selling Scotch whisky brands in the world, will soon have some of its stock bottled in Russia under a controversial new deal by Bacardi.

Published 6th Apr 2016
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The partnership between the drinks giant and Russian spirits producer Synergy will see William Lawson's blended Scotch whisky - currently the best selling whisky in Russia - bottled in Moscow.

William Lawson's will continue to be aged and blended in Scotland in accordance with Scotch Whisky Association regulations, but will then be shipped to Synergy's plant in Moscow to be bottled, with the new bottling line scheduled to begin on 26 April and the first bottles set to appear on the Russian market this Autumn.

Already massively popular in the country, the move is aimed at consolidating the brand's status in the Russian market and Bacardi stressed that William Lawson's will still comply with the Scotch Whisky Association's rules.

Michael Semiz, William Lawson's Global Director, said: “Understandably, the Scottish authorities are very protective of the quality and international reputation of Scotch whisky. Scotch Whisky blends must always be aged and blended in Scotland, however, they can be bottled anywhere in the world when the exceptional quality and taste of the final product is guaranteed to be identical to whisky bottled in Scotland."

According to a spokesperson for the Scotch Whisky Association, this is not the first time a trade deal such as this has occurred and though single malt whisky must be bottled in Scotland, in certain circumstances, blends can be bottled outside of the country and still maintain the Scotch appellation: “Scotch whisky must be distilled and matured in Scotland. Currently around 85 per cent of Scotch is bottled in Scotland, including all single malt Scotch whisky.

"Due to the significant and historical trade developed in bulk Blended Scotch whisky, brands may choose to bottle in key export markets. Ensuring this remains the case is important to protect Scotch whisky producers from increased taxes and trade barriers and safeguard production jobs in Scotland where Scotch Whisky, by law, must be made.”

Bacardi said it would perform “regular and detailed checks” of every product batch bottled in Russia to “ensure product’s full compliance with high quality standards”.

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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