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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Stuart Peskett

Drinks giant Allied Domecq has denied reports that it is to sever its ties from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) in protest at Diageo's decision to change its Cardhu single malt whisky to a vatted malt. Rumours had been circulating that Allied was on the verge of quitting the SWA, but director of corporate affairs Stephen Whitehead was quick to dismiss this: It's not true, we're not on the brink of resigning. We're extremely angry about what Diageo is doing, and we've made that quite plain within the SWA. We're frustrated that Diageo is continuing with this vatted malt thing.' The Cardhu decision raised eyebrows when it was announced in July, but Diageo remains unrepentant: We've been quite open about the move,' spokesman Peter Smith told Harpers. We've done a consumer campaign, we've changed elements of the bottling, the film on the neck of the bottle, and the packaging has changed. We've stopped producing the single malt - we've even changed the name of the distillery back to Cardow. We've taken all these measures to make it clear there has been a change.' But Whitehead claims that Allied is not the only disgruntled company: We're not leading any campaign - everybody is very unhappy about it, and we would like the SWA to be tougher on it.' Smith added: Of course the competitors don't like it. We appreciate that it's a new move and that it has caused some debate. We'll continue to discuss it with the Scottish Whisky Association. What Diageo has done is capitalise on Cardhu's success. Cardhu is the fastest-growing brand of malt whisky in the world. In Spain, it's really taken off. What we're doing is finding a common-sense solution. The number of charges that have been levelled against us has been rather unfair.' An SWA spokesman, when asked if Allied had approached the association regarding a possible resignation, replied absolutely not', adding: We are aware of the concerns expressed in relation to the decision to change Cardhu from a single malt to a vatted malt, and we are discussing the change with Diageo. That is very much an ongoing approach, and it would be premature to go into detail of those discussions before they are concluded.'