WHILE the Scotch whisky industry continues its quest for global domination, its gin counterpart is suffering from a degree of growing pains.

Gin sales continue to soar around the UK as the surprise renaissance of “mother’s ruin” seen in the last decade shows no signs of letting up, with Scottish gin brands very much in the vanguard.

But, as revealed in The Herald this month, an increasingly fractious row is bubbling away over how just how authentic these “Scottish” brands are. Broadly speaking, there is a divergence between the brands produced by bona fide distilleries in Scotland, and contract gins made south of the Border whose tartan credentials are limited to their romantic brand names.

For distillers such as Paul Miller at Eden Mill in St Andrews, the schism carries huge risk. Mr Miller is quite blunt about the threat, declaring that the gin brands cutting corners in their claims of Scottishness risk tarnishing the reputation of the entire category. He believes the wider Scottish food and drink industry needs to wake up the threat, noting that some prestigious award schemes have been handing out gongs to gins which have next to no presence in Scotland.

Adam Hunter at Arbikie, the “farm-to-bottle” distillery and one of the very few to produce its own spirit for gin in Scotland, is similarly passionate about authenticity. In an increasingly competitive market, he said the need to demonstrate provenance has never been so great.

Perhaps the time has come for policymakers to intervene and afford gin the type of regulations which serve the Scotch whisky market so well.