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Scotch whisky applies for GI status in New Zealand

The Scotch whisky industry has become one of the first to apply to be listed on New Zealand’s register of geographical indications (GIs) – an initiative launched by the country earlier this year.

Currently there is no protection of the term ‘Scotch whisky’, leaving consumers at more risk of fakes

According to trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), if the application is accepted ‘Scotch Whisky’ will gain protection as a registered GI in New Zealand, meaning that the term can only be used on whisky produced in Scotland in accordance with UK law.

Requirements include that 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.

Currently, there is no protection of the term, which means that consumers are more at risk of falling foul of fakes.

New Zealand’s GI scheme, launched earlier this year, is designed to give greater legal protection to domestic and international wines and spirits and protect consumers.

“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.

“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 New Zealand authorities on our early application.”


Looking ahead, the SWA is also positive of the benefits that a UK-New Zealand free trade agreement could bring for the category following Brexit.

While Scotch Whisky already enjoys a zero import tariff in New Zealand, an FTA could deliver other benefits, including the guaranteed and improved protection of GIs; strengthened whisky definition; removal of import duty equivalent charges; industry access to New Zealand’s health promotion levy to help fund responsible drinking campaigns and end of the prohibition of the sale of spirits in the country’s supermarkets.

“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,” added Low.

According to the SWA, exports of Scotch whisky to New Zealand were up almost 18% last year to just under £6.3 million.

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