Scottish whisky seeks world heritage status similar to champagne

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Scotch whisky is seeking the same recognition as French champagne
Scotch whisky is seeking the same recognition as French champagne
Scotch whisky producers are hoping to follow French champagne makers and win United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) world heritage status for their products.

There was a “great opportunity”​ for Scotland’s six whisky regions to receive the same level of recognition as the champagne vineyards in Burgundy in France, which was recognised over the weekend and will now receive special protection.

In order to be granted world heritage status, the production sites must be deemed to be ‘culturally significant’.

Scotland’s six whisky regions are: Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown, Highlands, Islands and Lowlands.

The whisky industry – supported by the Scottish government – should seize the opportunity to learn from the steps taken by champagne, and the producers in the region, Scotland’s food secretary Richard Lochhead said.

‘Golden opportunity’

“This is excellent news for champagne, and rightfully deserved – and I now hope this could open up a golden opportunity for Scotland’s many whisky-producing regions,”​ he said.

“The Scotch whisky industry is iconic and world-famous, steeped in tradition and craft. It’s now time for the industry and public sector to investigate the champagne region’s success and see what we can learn from it, for the benefit of Scotland.”

UNESCO World Heritage sites

(UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

Scotch whisky is just as iconic, if not more so, than champagne, Lochhead claimed.

“This is Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink – there is no better time than now to push forward and work towards our whisky-producing regions receiving the same level of recognition from UNESCO as Champagne and Burgundy in France,”​ he added.

French vineyards

Unesco decided that the French vineyards, wine cellars and sales houses where champagne is produced and sold were culturally significant.

It was one of 11 sites given World Heritage status by Unesco at a meeting in Germany on Saturday (July 4).

Unesco said the champagne industry was “a very specialised artisan activity that has become an agro-industrial enterprise”.

Being awarded World Heritage status is said to bring financial gains and more tourism.


Other World Heritage sites

  • Macchu Picchu, Peru
  • Taj Mahal, India
  • Great Wall of China
  • The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  • Pyramids, Egypt
  • Singapore's Botanic Gardens
  • Diyarbakir Fortress in Turkey
  • Maymand cave dwellings in Iran
  • Palmyra in Syria (this site was taken over by Islamic State militants in May, leading to criticism that World Heritage status does not help protect culturally significant sites)










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