The Scotch Whiskey Association wins one and fights another in international whiskey disputes

The Scotch Whiskey Association has secured a legal victory over a distiller in Germany, while a Canadian peer has threatened to pursue their name dispute with the trade organization.

Three years after a German court ruled whiskey producer Glen Buchenbach in the Buchenbach Valley was a misleading claim of provenance, the ruling was upheld on appeal last week. The SWA, which brought the original action against the company, credited its “clear and compelling” evidence in court with consumer perceptions that the term “Glen” is “strongly associated” with Scotland and Scotch.

In Canada, meanwhile, Macaloney Brewers & Distillers claimed this week that the organization is pushing for the removal of founder Graeme Macaloney’s name, along with the terms “island”, “Glenloy” and “Invermallie” from its brands. of Canadian whiskey. A lawsuit was filed in Canada in April last year, while imports into Germany were suspended.

Macaloney cited the SWA’s legal defeat at the hands of Glenora Distillers in the country 13 years ago as grounds for dismissing the current claim.

“This kind of punitive act by the SWA…cannot be tolerated,” Graeme Macaloney said. “Suggesting that Glen, an Irish word commonly used internationally by the Scottish and Irish diaspora, is inappropriate, results in international consumers being denied access to our ‘Canadian Best’ Glenloy and Invermallie whiskies.

“We will do whatever is necessary to reverse the punitive actions of the SWA and are considering a trade complaint both in Germany and with the European Union.”

Contacted by Just Drinks, a spokesperson for the trade association said: “European law protects geographical indications (GIs) such as Scotch whiskey to a very high standard, in particular by preventing the use of names which evoke a association with the protected GI. This was recently highlighted by the German Court of Appeal ruling that the use of ‘Glen’ as part of the brand name Glen Buchenbach on German whiskey evoked Scotch whiskey and was not permitted.

“The SWA will always take steps to protect Scotch whiskey from attempts to take unfair advantage of its reputation.”

Discussions between the two parties are ongoing, according to MBD.

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Andrew B. Reiter