SWA sues Virginia Distillery for ‘passing off whiskey as Scotch’

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is taking legal action against a distillery in the US for adding the word ‘Highland’ to its labels and “passing off” its products as Scotch.

Instagram: @vadistillery

According to a complaint filed by the SWA in Delaware federal court on Monday, the trade organisation is suing US-based Virginia Distillery Company over labelling terms it says are ‘passing off whiskey as Scotch’.

The labels highlighted are part of the ‘Virginia-Highland Whisky’ series.

The SWA claims that Virginia Distillery Company’s use of the word ‘Highland’ is unlawful as it is a term “reserved exclusively for Scotch whisky under US federal regulations” and is seeking a court order instructing the distillery to remove the term from its labels.

The SWA said: “[The] defendant’s labelling of its products intentionally misidentifies the true geographic origin of its products in an effort to trade on the good will and prestige associated with Scotch Whisky.

“While the association respects the rights of independent distillers, it has an obligation to protect the unique geographic identity of whisky produced in Scotland, namely Scotch whisky, and the industry that produces it from damage.”

According to Virginia Distillery Company’s product descriptions, the bottles are a blend of Scotch whisky and whiskey “made on-site in Virginia”.

In a statement, Virginia Distillery Company said: “We are confident this complaint will be resolved, and we will be responding through the court system. We stand behind our product and its labelling.”

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