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Case Studies

Bottles of Whisky
There are many ways to take unfair advantage of the reputation of Scotch Whisky and the SWA will take action to prevent the sale of misleadingly labelled products. Some examples are set out below.

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

21 August 2023

Scotch Whisky Secures Trademark Protection in Hong Kong

Scotch Whisky now has trademark protection in Hong Kong for the first time.

22 May 2023

SWA Legal Team Toasts WTR Awards Success as Best Not-for-Profit Organisation

The Scotch Whisky Association's Legal Affairs team has won its third World Trademark Review award in five years.

25 April 2022

Joint statement with Macaloney Brewer & Distillers Ltd

A joint statement with Macaloney Brewer & Distillers Ltd

20 January 2022

Decision over Glen Buchenbach upheld by appeal court

The SWA has won the legal case against the use of 'Glen' in Germany.

20 November 2020

Scotch Whisky is registered as a GI in Laos

Scotch Whisky has officially been registered as a Geographical Indication in Laos

05 August 2020

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.

12 December 2019

Scotch Whisky secures GI protection in Cambodia

Cambodia is the latest country in which Scotch Whisky's geographical indication is officially registered.

31 May 2019

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.

07 February 2019

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.


19 June 2020

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.

31 January 2019

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.