April 15, 2014 – Australia is the 12th largest market for Scotch whisky exports, with growth of 7% last year. It’s also one of the worst markets for counterfeit Scotch whiskies, according to the Scotch Whisky Association, which claims at least 40 brands of fake Scotch whiskies are being sold in Australia. Now, the SWA and its members will have greater power to get the impostors off the market — or at least get them rebranded as something other than Scotch whisky. Australian officials have granted the SWA a “certification trademark” for Scotch whisky, which will allow the trade body to take legal action to remove fakes from the market.

The problem dates back to 2000, when Australia revamped its food safety laws in coordination with New Zealand and removed specific protection for Scotch whisky. That, combined with a lack of enforcement, opened the floodgates for counterfeit whisky makers. According to the association, local companies have been diluting real Scotch whisky with other spirits and selling the adulterated product as Scotch. In a news release, SWA legal adviser Alan Park described the new trademark as a breakthrough for the industry.

“I have been involved in actions against many fake ‘Scotch Whisky’ products in Australia in recent years. Registration of Scotch Whisky as a certification trade mark 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 and we would like to thank the UK Government and European Commission for their support. 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.”

The Association’s team of lawyers has fought fake whiskies for decades, and former SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt once called it the association’s most important function during a WhiskyCast interview.

Links: Scotch Whisky Association