Scotland’s whisky industry is celebrating a “major breakthrough” in Australia, where this the spirit was registered as a certification trademark. The move comes after a long battle by Scotch Whisky Association to counter fakes, for which Australia has been one of the worst offenders.
According to the SWA, said there has been a serious problem with fake Scotch whisky being sold there in recent years. Since 2005, the industry body has taken action to stop the sale of 40 brands of fake scotch in Australia.
It has attributed the rise in fakes—estimated to be in the region of 2m bottles since 2005—to a move in 2000 by regulators to remove specific protection for Scotch whisky from Australia and New Zealand’s Food Standards Code. The body also blames a lack of enforcement by Australian authorities.
“As a result, the onus for policing the market has fallen entirely on the trade,” the SWA said in a statement.
The SWA has a number of lawyers working to protect its provenance across the world, and has recently has been dealing with fake whisky cases in China, India, Italy, Thailand and the Dutch territory of Curacao in the Caribbean. At any one time, the association can be involved in up to 70 legal actions globally, and says the 40 Australian brands they acted against was just the tip of the iceberg.
The SWA had earlier sought assistance from the British government and the European Commission, which both gave ongoing support. British Foreign Secretary William Hague raised the issue on a visit to Australia and the EC drew it to the attention of the Australian government in bilateral meetings.
Alan Park of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "I have been involved in actions against many fake Scotch whisky products in Australia in recent years. Registration of Scotch whisky as a certification trademark is a major breakthrough and will make it easier to crack down on fakes and therefore protect consumers, although the onus to prevent the sale of fakes still rests on the industry.
"It has taken time and effort to achieve this result. Scotch Whisky exports are of immense value to the economy so overseas protection is vital. We will be monitoring the market and will use our new protection for Scotch Whisky to take decisive action against fakes."
Scotch Whisky exports to Australia were worth £84m (US$140m) in 2013, up 7% from £79m (US$132m) in 2012, making it the twelfth largest overseas market by value.