The global success of the Scotch whisky industry has meant that imitators keep appearing from time to time with ingenious ways to try to get around protection laws. This is the reason behind the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) working 24/7 blocking attempts by companies around the world to pass off their products as “Scotch” in order to boost their own profits.

Needless to say, if you see any such examples, please email information to the SWA on legal@swa.org.uk

Additionally, for information on the performance of Scotch whisky around the world, see a previous Inside the Cask blog post: ‘Exports of Single Malt Scotch Whisky increased by over 14% to £1.17bn’

Scotch whisky is protected as a Geographical Indication (GI), meaning it can only be produced in Scotland, according to UK rules.

“The SWA has consistently taken action in our global markets to prevent the use of Scottish indications of origin on whisky which is not Scotch Whisky. This is vital to protecting Scotland’s national drink and is a deterrent to those who seek to take advantage of the quality reputation of Scotch Whisky and potentially mislead consumers.” Alan Park, SWA Director of Legal Affairs (pictured below)

“Courts across many jurisdictions have ruled that names, such as “Highland” and “Glen”, and images, such as bagpipers, are so strongly associated with Scotland and Scotch Whisky that their use on whisky of another origin is misleading.”

Recent examples where the SWA has had to take action, supported where required by the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the UK’s Intellectual Property (IP) offices, include Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Curacao, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Peru, South Africa, the USA and even in Scotland! See below some of the examples.

Scotch Whisky producers spend years perfecting their product, but these counterfeits can potentially harm the industry by:

  • lowering sales of bona fide Scotch
  • putting people off buying the real thing after they’ve unwittingly tried the inferior quality fake product
  • deterring people from buying anything purporting to be Scotch, for fear of getting the fake

The latest example comes as a result of the long-running legal battle to stop a German distillery using the term “Glen” (as reported on The Times below).

See also: ‘The Battle against Fake Scotch’ on Scotchwhisky.com for more examples of brands misleading consumers

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