1. The most obvious way of marketing a spirit to suggest that it is Scotch Whisky when it is not, is use of the description "Scotch Whisky" itself. All brands of Scotch Whisky must be registered with HMRC. It is illegal to place a brand of Scotch Whisky on the market if it has not been registered on the verified list of brands.
If you come across a product described as a "Scotch Whisky", you can type the brand name into HMRC’s look-up facility. If it is not listed, you can report the brand to us using the contact details below.
2. In many cases, rather than misusing the description “Scotch Whisky”, producers adopt a subtler approach and will often try to suggest that their products are Scotch Whisky by using indirect indications of Scottish origin. There are many ways of suggesting that a spirit is Scotch Whisky without actually using those words. For example, terms most commonly associated with Scotland, such as Loch, Highland or Glen may be used, or labels may include tartan, bagpipes, or figures dressed in the traditional Scottish kilt. Words and images like this are used to make the consumer think they are purchasing Scotch Whisky.
3. Some whiskies can be sold with false age claims. In many countries consumers are prepared to pay a premium for older products and as maturation is an expensive process, there are large profits to be made by printing false age statements on younger spirits. Age is determined by the number of years a spirit has matured in the cask. Any age statement must refer only to the youngest spirit in blend.
news & commentary
Decision over Glen Buchenbach upheld by appeal court
The SWA has won the legal case against the use of 'Glen' in Germany.
Scotch Whisky is registered as a GI in Laos
Scotch Whisky has officially been registered as a Geographical Indication in Laos
SWA releases new guidance on personal investment in Scotch Whisky casks
The SWA has published guidance for individuals looking to invest in Scotch Whisky casks.
SWA legal team wins 'Team of the Year' award
The SWA has been recognised for its work to protect Scotch Whisky at an awards ceremony in Boston.
SWA Comments on Glen Buchenbach case
Our case against Glen Buchenbach presented clear and compelling evidence to the court that 'Glen' is strongly associated with Scotland and Scotch Whisky, and the only reason to use 'Glen' for a German whisky is because of its undoubted association with Scotch Whisky.
Scotch Whisky granted certification trademark in South Africa
'Scotch Whisky' registered as a certification trademark in South Africa
Protecting Scotch in the age of Brexit
The UK is preparing for a time of great change as we approach Brexit. Leaving the European Union will undoubtedly have a major impact on British industries and exporters, including Scotch Whisky.
SWA secures GI protection for Scotch Whisky in New Zealand
Scotland's national drink has secured enhanced legal protection in New Zealand after the Scotch Whisky Association's application to register "Scotch Whisky" as a Geographical Indication (GI) was successful.
10 year renewal of Scotch Whisky trademark in China announced during Prime Minister trade visit
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has renewed its collective trademarks 'SCOTCH WHISKY' and its translation '苏格兰威士忌' in China until November 2028. As a result, Scotch Whisky is officially protected from locally produced copies for a further 10 years.
Thinking of investing in Scotch Whisky?
The SWA has produced guidance for consumers of what to consider when investing in a cask of Scotch Whisky.
Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009: Guidance for Producers and Bottlers
The following guidance is aimed at assisting those producing and selling Scotch Whisky, and those designing labels, packaging and advertising, to comply with the 2009 Scotch Whisky Regulations.