THE Scottish Government’s proposals for an alcohol marketing ban include the wording “without branding and other marketing strategies, alcohol products in each beverage sub-sector are essentially variations of the same thing”.

This is completely untrue.

For the Scottish Government to claim this is for them to be resorting to Westminster-like lies.

I understand the rationale behind the government’s proposals, but their consultation paper is factually incorrect.

In whisky, for example, each brand is the product of several generations of expertise to deliver and maintain the characteristics of the brand.

Variations in production technique give differentials in flavour, as do variations in maturation practices.

In the Single Malt and Single Grain sub-categories, flavour characteristics derived from the specific location of the distillery are encompassed within the spirit’s flavour and aroma.

You cannot, for example, produce an identical clone of Laphroaig anywhere but at the distillery itself.

It was attempted by Peter Mackie who owned Lagavulin.

In 1908, he built Malt Mill distillery, an identical building to Laphroaig which was a mere two miles away. He diverted Laphroaig’s water supply, he hired Laphroaig’s distiller.

His attempt to copy Laphroaig failed – he produced a totally different whisky.

Perhaps in the stated opinion of the Scottish Government, the difference was created because Peter Mackie was not using any marketing?

I have tasted hundreds of thousands of whiskies over the past 46  years and while some specific characteristics are found in many whiskies for around the world, it is certainly not true that these are found in all whiskies – or even in the majority of whiskies.

In many ways, it is totally astounding that with only three ingredients, the Scotch whisky industry produces so many different spirits.

Especially with such tight production rules as those maintained- and policed – by the Scotch Whisky Association, but the fact is that, within a small country like Scotland, spirits with huge flavour differentials are created all across the country.

Therefore within the whisky sub-category, they are all unique individuals.

Individuals as exclusively different as a salmon and a seagull; as different as an elephant and a dormouse.

Marketing can make or break a brand. It most certainly does not define the brand – and neither does it create flavour, aroma or textural differentials. 

What marketing does is create a picture of a brand and its promoted qualities in the consumer’s brain.

Perhaps the Scottish Government should drop this proposal and undertake some marketing to persuade us that they are different from their counterparts at Westminster.

John Lamond, Master of Malt and Keeper of the Quaich, is one of the world’s leading authorities on whisky.