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Scotch whisky applies for GI in New Zealand

Published:  30 August, 2017

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has applied for Geographical Indication (GI) status in New Zealand.

If accepted for the regime, which has been designed to give greater legal protection to domestic and international wines and spirits and protect consumers against ‘fakes’, Scotch whisky will have protection as a registered GI in the country.

GI status, which means the description ‘Scotch whisky’ can only be used on whisky produced in Scotland in accordance with UK law, was of “great commercial value” to the Scotch whisky industry,” said the SWA, adding it gave consumers confidence in the quality and provenance of what they were buying.

Currently in New Zealand, if someone is selling fake Scotch there is the option of taking legal proceedings for breach of the Fair Trading Act, but this came with “some uncertainties”, the trade body said.

“As Scotch whisky continues to grow in popularity, attempts are often made to try to take unfair advantage of its success, for example by trying to make and sell fakes,” said Lindesay Low, SWA senior legal counsel, adding recognition as a GI would help protect against such illegal activities.

“It’s important that consumers have confidence in the provenance of what they are buying, which this recognition of Scotch as a GI will help to achieve.”

The application for Scotland’s national drink was one of the first to be listed on the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office site when the regime went live in July, according to the SWA.

The SWA, which is now awaiting the decision of the New Zealand authorities, also said it would welcome an early UK-New Zealand free trade agreement following Brexit to further improve the status of Scotch whisky in the market.

Exports of Scotch whisky, officially recognized in the laws of nearly 100 countries, to New Zealand were up around 18% last year to just under £6.3m (SWA).