SWA challenges German ‘Glen’ whisky

The Scotch Whisky Association has challenged the use of the word ‘Glen’ on a whisky made by a German distillery on the grounds that it is an infringement of Scotch’s protected status.

The European Court of Justice will reportedly rule this week on the challenge launched by the SWA’s legal department against German distillery Waldhorn.

The German producer, from Baden-Württemberg in the south of the country, makes a number of products including gin and traditional German ‘brand’ of various types.

It also makes a ‘whisky’ – with the Scottish spelling – named after the nearby Buchenbachtal in Swabia. ‘Tal’ in German means ‘valley’ and, as the distillery explains on its website, ‘glen’ is the Gaelic word for valley which is why the whisky has been named ‘Glen Buchenbach Swabian ’.

According to the Sunday Herald, however, the SWA believes this to be an infringement of Scotch’s protected status under EU law as it could lead consumers to believe the spirit was a Scottish malt.

There was a similar case in 2009 when the SWA challenged a Canadian distillery over a whisky called ‘Glen Breton’. In that instance a Canadian court ruled that the name did not create the impression the product was from Scotland.

In a statement, an SWA spokesperson said: “As this is a current case, we are unable to offer any specific comment.

“The Scotch Whisky Association regularly pursues legal proceedings in global markets to protect the GI (geographical indication) status of “Scotch Whisky”. This legal protection is the foundation on which our global export success is built.”

Jürgen Klotz of Waldhorn was quoted by the Sunday Herald as saying he thought it was a “shame” the case had been brought by the SWA and that there was no indication that the whisky was at all Scottish.

The case is due to be heard this Thursday (22 February).

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