In a bid to create a secure haven for whisky aficionados and connoisseurs, the Cask Whisky Association (CWA) has emerged on the scene, marking its official launch on September 21st. Comprising a diverse array of members and advisors, the CWA boasts a substantial roster, including cask whisky businesses, esteemed distilleries, independent bottlers, renowned whisky experts and authors, and a contingent of legal and insurance professionals well-versed in the whisky sector.
The primary mission of the Cask Whisky Association is to usher in a new era of transparency and credibility within the realm of cask whisky trading. The association is resolute in its commitment to safeguarding both cask whisky consumers and the broader whisky industry, pledging to establish and uphold the gold standard of practices in cask ownership and transactions.
Colin Hampden-White, the Chairman of the advisory board and spokesperson for the CWA, elucidated the association's pivotal role. He articulated the CWA's overarching objective: "The CWA’s goal is to uphold the overall reputation of the Scotch whisky industry, while protecting consumers from unscrupulous traders."
The need for such an association arises from the growing concern surrounding deceptive practices in the cask investment market. Hampden-White expressed his concerns, remarking, "When it comes to cask investment, there are clearly companies out there that are ripping people off, and it is damaging the general reputation of Scotch."
One pertinent issue in the industry is the proliferation of misleading advertisements by some whisky cask investment firms, leading to their prohibition by the UK's advertising watchdog in August. The CWA is actively collaborating with various organizations to introduce regulations for advertising in the currently unregulated cask investment sector.
Hampden-White emphasized that the CWA is not seeking an extensive regulatory framework akin to financial institutions but is rather pushing for a level of oversight to ensure fair practices. Discussions are underway to ascertain whether the Digital Markets, Competitions, and Consumers Bill, currently under review in the House of Lords, encompasses Scotch whisky and whether amendments to the bill are warranted.
Wendy Chamberlain MP, the Chair of the Scotch Whisky All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), has rallied behind the CWA's mission. She has penned a letter to the business minister responsible for the Bill, seeking clarity on whether the proposed consumer legislation will enhance protections for cask whisky investors. Chamberlain's letter underscores the importance of reining in bad actors to preserve the reputation of Scotch whisky and ensure the industry's long-term viability.
In addition to engaging with political figures, the CWA has forged alliances within the government. Lord Richard Harrington, who heads the government's foreign direct investment review, praised the association's cross-industry collaboration. He stressed the necessity of addressing regulatory gaps, especially in the cask investment domain, to preserve the integrity of the Scotch whisky sector.
Hampden-White further shed light on the prevailing issues within the whisky market, highlighting a lack of understanding among many cask investment companies and consumers. Some companies, albeit not fraudulent, have ventured into cask trading without adequate knowledge or experience, potentially jeopardizing the industry's credibility. The CWA aims to provide guidance and support to such companies, nurturing their growth and ensuring best practices.
The CWA operates as a voluntary organization, extending an open invitation to all cask whisky companies willing to adhere to quality standards and retain appropriate licenses. Membership applications from UK-based, financially stable companies are reviewed semi-annually by the executive board, under the vigilant oversight of the independent advisory board.
For consumers and investors seeking guidance in the intricate world of cask whisky trading, the CWA website serves as a valuable resource. It offers comprehensive advice on due diligence, urging individuals to refrain from impulsive decisions and instead conduct thorough research, consult with industry peers, and scrutinize pricing structures before making a commitment.
To distinguish trustworthy sources in the market, the CWA plans to grant its hallmark logo to vetted and approved association members. This emblem will serve as an assurance of credibility and reliability for consumers and investors seeking a trusted source for cask whisky.
Hans Offringa, a respected whisky expert and author, and a member of the CWA's advisory board, affirmed the importance of such certification and licensing. He emphasized that these measures would be instrumental in helping individuals navigate the whisky market and avoid potential pitfalls. In Offringa's words, "If you want to buy whisky, go to a trusted company and get some advice, that way you will avoid any pitfalls. That’s why I think certification and licensing is so important; the Cask Whisky Association provides a quality hallmark for people looking to buy and invest in whisky."
The CWA is primed for success with its dedicated executive and advisory boards, comprising prominent figures from the whisky industry. These individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, ensuring that the association can effectively fulfill its mission to safeguard the interests of cask whisky enthusiasts and bolster the reputation of Scotch whisky. With the launch of the Cask Whisky Association, the future of cask whisky trading appears brighter, transparent, and more secure than ever before.
Learn more at www.caskwhiskyassociation.org.
CWA Executive Board
Keith Rennie – Director at Scotch Whisky International Ltd
Simon Aron – Managing Director of Cask Trade Ltd
Saul Kelly – Managing Director of Fruitful Spirits Ltd
George Stewart – Director of Stewart Whisky Company Ltd
Danny Saltman – Director of Malts at DS Tayman
Saul Taylor – Managing Director of Dalkeith Brokerage Ltd
Russell Spratley – Director of Spiritfilled Ltd
CWA Advisory Board
Colin Hampden-White – TV presenter and whisky journalist
Charles Maclean – Author and whisky expert
Hans Offringa – Author and whisky expert
George Frier – Partner at Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
Patricia Dillon – Managing Director of Speyside Distillers Co. Ltd
John Laurie – Managing Director of The Glenturret
Graeme Dempster – Account Executive at insurance broker Bruce Stevenson
Martin Purvis – Associate Director of Kelvin Cooperage