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Scotch Whisky Association applies for GI in New Zealand

DBR Staff Writer Published 30 August 2017

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

GIs are a sign used by wines and spirits from specific area to which quality, reputation and other characteristics are attributed.

If SWA's application on the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office is accepted,it will have protection as a registered GI in New Zealand.

The new GI scheme will offer legal protection to domestic and international wines and spirits and can protect consumers against fake products.

With GI in place, the name Scotch whisky can only be used for a whisky which has been authentically produced in Scotland, as per the UK law.

The requirements for authentic Scotch whisky include, that it can be made only with the raw materials such as water, cereals and yeast and is matured in Scotland for at least three years in oak casks.

Presently, in New Zealand, no legal action can be taken against a person if he is or she is selling fake ‘Scotch’. With GI status in place, consumers can be sure that the Scotch whisky they are having is 100% authentic, while offering great commercial value to the Scotch whisky industry.

The SWA stated that it is open for an early UK-New Zealand free trade agreement after Brexit. Presently, there is zero import tariff in New Zealand for Scotch whisky, but a free trade agreement, as per SWA, could bring in other benefits.

Some of these benefits can include guaranteed and improved protection of GIs, a clear definition for whisky, removal of import duty and equivalent charges, industry access to New Zealand’s health promotion levy to help fund drinking campaigns and to put an end to the prohibition of sales of spirits across the country’s supermarkets.

Scotch Whisky Association senior legal counsel Lindesay Low 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.

"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.

"We hope a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the UK will be signed following Brexit to further improve the status of Scotch Whisky in the market."

Image: Scotch whisky applies for GI status in New Zealand. Photo: Courtesy of The Scotch Whisky Association.