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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fighting Fake Scotch

The Scotch Whisky Association is fighting to eliminate brands that try to pretend they are Scotch by pushing for legislation that would reserve the use of words like Highlands and Islay for Scotch labels.

The term "Scotch" already has protection in international trade agreements, but that has not stopped some companies from trying to market spirits using the international popularity of Scotch whisky. The Scotch Whisky Association points to Highland Gold Finest Whisky, which is actually made in the Netherlands and Surinam, Lowlands Blended Whisky from Spain and Islay Whisky Cream, made in Italy, as brands sold across Europe that attempt to confuse consumers.

The move would protect the names of Scotch appellations, much the way Cognac for a regionally produced brandy or Champagne for a sparkling with from a certain geographic region enjoy protections in trade laws. Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown would get a designation permitting only brands produced in specified regions of Scotland the right to use those words on labels.

The European Union maintains a list of what it calls "Geographic Indicators" that the World Trade Organization follows in protecting unique products produced in a certain style that originates from a specific locality. Distillers believe that the designation will help protect the $4.2 billion export market for Scotch.


Whisky school said...

the SWA often goes too far - this is a good example. They got shirty about a Canadian whisky distillery - www.glenoradistillery.com - sounding too Scottish. They have a nerve.

Lagavulin is a Viking name imported from Norway. When an industry get too big the administrators often loose the plot.

Rick Lyke said...

I remember the attempt to silence the Glen Breton label from Canada's Glenora Distillery and agree that was more than a bit heavy handed. However, in this case protecting names place names/designations like Islay and Campbeltown is a good thing. I know if I was traveling and came across a brand in Spain with the label Lowlands Blended Whisky, I might order it thinking it was a Scotch I had not yet tried. The whisky itself might be perfectly fine, but I'd not like the deceptive nature of the name.