Distillers Stag’s Breath and Smokehead Whisky broke advertising rules


Distillers from Newtonmore and Islay have been found to have broke the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) code on alcohol.

Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd, which sells Smokehead Whisky from Islay, and Meikles of Scotland Limited from Newtonmore, which sell Stag’s Breath whisky liqueur have both been found to be in breach of advertising standards.

An Instagram post for Smokehead Whisky, dated June 6, featured an image in the foreground of a partially full bottle of whisky.

Meanwhile, in the background a woman was shown dressed in work overalls standing in front of a car with an open bonnet.

Smokehead Whisky A Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

The text read: “Smokehead Whisky, working hard or hardly working? Brilliant snap, keep em’ coming” accompanied by a skull and fire emoji.

Immediately deleted

The ASA challenged the advert saying it was irresponsible, because it linked alcohol with driving and an activity or location in which drinking would be unsafe.

Ian MacLeod Distillers Ltd said it accepted responsibility for the post, which was user-generated content, and understood that moderation was required.

It said the post was immediately deleted, and staff were given training.

An ASA spokeswoman said: “While we acknowledged the post did not show the mechanic drinking from the bottle, we noted that the bottle of whisky was partially full, and, as such, we considered that gave the impression that the mechanic had been drinking the whisky while at work.

“We considered that the reference to ‘hardly working’ also added to that impression.

“We told Ian MacLeod Distillers Ltd who make Smokehead Whisky to ensure their future ads were not irresponsible, for example, by linking alcohol with driving or with activities or locations in which drinking would be unsafe.”

Stag’s Breath

A Facebook post on the Meikles of Scotland Ltd Stag’s Breath Liqueur’s page, dated June 10 2022, read: “Ha! Happy Friday everyone! #whiskyscotland #FunnyFriday #whskyjokes” [sic] accompanied by smiling face emojis.

Below it featured text which stated, “Fixing a boo boo as a kid” with an image of a sticking plaster underneath.

Text beneath that stated “Fixing a boo boo as an adult” with an image of a drink in a glass underneath.

Meikles of Scotland Limited, Newtonmore. Supplied by Google.

The ASA said the ad was irresponsible because it implied that drinking alcohol could overcome problems and had therapeutic qualities.

Meikles of Scotland Ltd apologised for the post and that its intention was not to imply that drinking would fix problems.

It was used because it was the end of the working week and was intended to be light-hearted and humorous.

Meikles said it realised they should have been more careful and would never knowingly have encouraged anyone to drink more than was sensible.

The post was removed when it was notified of the complaint.

An ASA spokeswoman said: “We considered consumers would interpret the ad to mean that while a child would need only a plaster to ‘fix’ a mistake or minor injury, in adulthood, alcohol could be used instead.”

She continued: “[we] considered it presented drinking alcohol as a solution for difficulties and implied that it could help with overcoming problems in life and had therapeutic qualities.

“We told Meikles of Scotland Ltd who make Stag’s Breath Liqueur to ensure that in future their ads did not imply that alcohol could overcome problems or had therapeutic qualities.”

A spokeswoman for Meikles said the full report contain its comments on the breach of the code.

Ian MacLeod Distillers has been contacted to comment.

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