Busy year for Scotch Whisky Association lawyers


david frost swa
David Frost

Lawyers in the legal affairs department of the Scotch Whisky Association have had a busy year defending the integrity of Scotland’s national drink.

The SWA’s Annual Report reveals that the organisation has waged legal battles from Switzerland to China to protect the good name of Scotch whisky from impostors.

The sale of a Swiss whisky described as “Swiss Highland Single Malt,” saw the SWA object to the use of the word “Highland” to describe a whisky neither distilled or matured in Scotland.

After a challenge in the Swiss courts, the drink produced in Switzerland’s Berner Oberland department, will be removed in a phased manner from the markets.

The SWA is battling to stop a Chinese drink described as “Scotch” being sold under a phonetic representation of how someone from the country might pronounce the word “Scotland”.

‘Scolen’ is a phonetic representation of how a Chinese person may pronounce “Scotland” and there are a number of references to Edinburgh and Speyside on the packaging.

Scolen’s Shenzhen-based producer and its director have ignored an injunction previously granted, preventing them from passing off the product as Scotch, and they were ordered to change the name.

Despite 19 of SWA’s legal battles being successfully resolved last year, a further 22 new proceedings have brought the number of ongoing cases to 60.

David Frost, SWA chief executive (pictured), said: “One of our main roles is to safeguard Scotch whisky around the world.

“A lot of that work involves the fight against the sale of products falsely described as Scotch whisky, or labelled to look like Scotch, when they are not.

“We take court proceedings and work with governments in markets around the world to crack down on the sale of fakes.”

Scotch whisky has “geographical indication” status, meaning it must be produced in Scotland in accordance with UK law from water, cereals and yeast, and matured for at least three years.

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