Scotch whisky gets NZ register of geographical indication

01 September, 2017

Scotch whisky is one of the first applications to be listed on New Zealand’s register of geographical indications (GIs) - a sign used on wines and spirits from a specific area which have a quality, reputation or other characteristic linked to that location.

Scotland’s national drink was one of the first GI applications to appear on the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office site when the regime went live in July.

New Zealand’s GI scheme is designed to give greater legal protection to domestic and international wines and spirits and protect consumers against fake products.

Lindesay Low, Scotch Whisky Association senior legal counsel, 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.

“Recognition as a GI helps 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 ‘geographical indication’ will help to achieve.”

The requirement to earn the recognition include that the Scotch is only made from the raw materials of water, cereals and yeast and matured in Scotland for at least three years in oak casks.

In New Zealand, if someone is selling fake ‘Scotch’ there is the option of taking legal proceedings for breach of the Fair Trading Act, which comes with some uncertainties.

Low added: “We were quick off the mark to file our application to register Scotch Whisky as a GI in New Zealand as it offers such great protection to our product. We await the decision of the New Zealand authorities on our early application.”

GI status is of great commercial value to the Scotch Whisky industry and gives consumers confidence in the quality and provenance of what they are buying. Scotch is officially recognised in the laws of nearly 100 countries.

Exports of Scotch Whisky to New Zealand were up almost 18% last year to just under £6.3m.

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