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Finland bans the word ‘whisky’ from fair

Authorities in Finland have been criticised for censoring a beer and whisky expo when they ruled that the word ‘whisky’ must be removed from its title.

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The expo is scheduled to take place in Finland this month (Photo: db)

The story broke on Saturday when it was reported in the Helsinki Times that the organiser of a beer and whisky expo scheduled to take place later this month had been ordered to refrain from using the word ‘whisky’ in the titling or promotion of the event.

This meant that the beer and whisky event was, perversely, not allowed to be named or described as a beer and whisky event.

Due to strict alcohol advertising laws in the country, the State Regional Administration Agency (Avi) deemed the use of the word ‘whisky’ in the event’s marketing to be considered as a promotion of a strong spirit.

“This was about the event’s marketing name, which had advertised strong spirits,” said the agency’s senior inspector Jarmo Oresmaa.

The event’s licence is dependent on the fair’s website not showing up in search engine results for the word ‘whisky’ – ‘viski’ in Finnish.

The logo still contains the word 'viski' – but the website now only refers to the event as the 'Beer Expo' (Photo: BEF2014)
The logo still contains the word ‘viski’ – but the website now only refers to the event as the ‘Beer Expo’ (Photo: BEF2014)

Organiser Mikki Nyman, having consulted with Valvira, the National Authority for Health and Welfare, initially took the decision to ask private bloggers and social media users who were writing about the event to remove the word ‘whisky’ from their posts in an effort to remove it from google search results.

This move has since been described as unnecessary by the state regulators, who now say that removing the word ‘whisky’ from the title should be sufficient. In the agency’s view the name must simply be changed from “Beer and whisky expo” to “Beer expo”.

However, even after the name change, inspector Oresmaa said he had received complaints from members of the public about the event’s website, as it still controversially contained references to whisky.

The story has now become national headline news in the country, with a backlash on social media and “viski” and “Viskigate” trending on Twitter.

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