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SWA secures GI protection for Scotch Whisky in New Zealand

Published:  28 February, 2018

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has secured Geographical Indications (GI) protection for the spirit in New Zealand.

The GI recognition, which means the ‘Scotch Whisky’ description can only be used on Whisky produced in Scotland, marks the first foreign GI to be registered by the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office (NZIPO).

Forming part of New Zealand's GI scheme, which is designed to give greater legal protection to domestic and international wines and spirits and protect consumers against fakes, would “greatly enhance” the basic protection previously given under New Zealand’s Food Standards Code, which did not contain a comprehensive legal definition of Scotch Whisky, said Lindesay Low, legal deputy director of the SWA.

“Until recently a gap existed within the New Zealand Food Standards Code which made it comparatively difficult to prevent the sale of spirits being passed off as “Scotch” in the country,” she said, adding the industry body had worked with the British High Commission in wellington and the NZIPO to close the loophole.

“It is vital that consumers have confidence in the provenance of what they are buying which this recognition of Scotch as a 'Geographical Indication' will help to achieve,” she added.

Looking ahead, the SWA was now hoping a comprehensive free trade agreement between New Zealand and the UK would be signed following Brexit to further improve the status of Scotch Whisky and help to build on recent market growth, she said.

In 2017, Scotch Whisky exports to New Zealand rose by 27% to almost £8 million, according to the SWA.

New Zealand now joins more than 100 other countries which have officially recognised Scotch Whisky as a Scottish product, produced according to traditional methods, and deserving of special protection.

Earlier this week, the Scottish parliament agreed the minimum price on a unit of alcohol is to be 50 pence from 1 May this year.

This will raise the cheapest price for a 70cl bottle of Scotch from £11 to £14 70cl, vodka from £9.97 to £13.11 and a bottle of wine from £3.09 to £4.98.