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Scotch moves into the low ABV arena

Scotch producer Whyte & Mackay has released the 21.5-percent ABV Whyte & Mackay Light, billed as “a lighter spirit drink from Scotland, made from Scotch whisky married with Sherry”.

Not to be confused with “light whisky” — which is a style of full-strength whisky — this “light spirit drink” can’t official be called whisky at all because Scotch is required to be at least 40-percent ABV. But that hasn’t stopped Whyte & Mackay, which already has a name associated with Scotch, from trying to capitalise on the low-ABV trend.

“People trust Whyte & Mackay to make a great-tasting spirit and, thanks to our expert distilling team, Whyte & Mackay Light tastes fantastic — either straight over ice, or served with your favourite mixer,” said Rod Gillies, head of innovation at Whyte & Mackay.

“We’re using the strength of one of our existing brands to deliver an attractive option for the growing number of consumers who may be looking to keep an eye on their alcohol intake.”

This “rich, smooth, and slightly smoky” spirit drink is debuting at the British grocery chain Tesco at £12 for a 700ml bottle.

Whyte & Mackay hopes it will appeal to the same younger drinkers who are reaching for low- and no-alcohol beer, cider, and wine — categories that have been growing in the UK even more than in the US.

Whyte & Mackay isn’t the first company to release a low-ABV “whisky”: for instance, similar products were launched by Diageo in South Korea in 2015. However, “light spirit drinks” certainly aren’t yet common, and at just 21.5-percent ABV, Whyte & Mackay Light appears to be even lighter than its predecessors.

The head of BrewDog’s spirits unit, David Gates told just-drinks, that the legal rules regarding the definition of Scotch whisky are curbing innovation in the category: “The Scotch Whisky Association calls for traditional methods. That is such a subjective view, and we would argue it is unprogressive.”

Source: TheGrocer.co.uk, just-drinks.com

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