THE Burmese authorities have granted special protection to Scotch whisky in a bid to protect Scotland’s national drink against fakes in the growing market.
It will be given a collective trademark to allow action to be taken more effectively against products wrongly being passed off as Scotch whisky.
The move follows a similar measure taken in Australia – one of the worst markets for fake Scotch – earlier this year, when it was registered as a trade mark.
Whisky experts said the decision gives added protection to both consumers and the industry in locations where the “geographic indicator” (GI) – the protection offered to a range of geographically unique products, including Parma ham and Champagne – is not recognised.
“This will allow us to protect Scotch whisky against products illegally being sold or passed off as Scotch,” said Alan Park, the Scotch Whisky Association’s legal adviser. “Products suspected of misleading consumers and damaging the legitimate trade are already under investigation and may become the subject of legal action using the protection now given to Scotch Whisky in Burma.”
Scotch whisky exports to Burma, also known as Myanmar, jumped 65 per cent to £2 million last year from £888,734 in 2012. The country, which has recently taken steps towards democracy after being ruled by a military junta since 1962, boasts a number of home-grown brands of whisky, which is fast becoming one of its most popular drinks.
In 2012, Chelsea FC agreed a two-year sponsorship deal with Burmese whisky Grand Royal – Burma’s best-selling brand – which boasts an unnamed Scottish master blender on its label, but, in accordance with Scotch whisky rules, does not claim to be Scotch.
The British Ambassador to Burma, Andrew Patrick, said: “A robust legal framework is of great importance to foreign investors in any market and the British Embassy is supportive of the Burmese government’s efforts to develop this.”
Earlier this month, a German scientist living in Scotland announced a new technique to tackle counterfeit Scotch whisky by determining whether the water used to make it comes from Scotland.
The Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme, launched earlier this year, ensures that every part of the Scotch whisky supply chain is mapped by the industry, registered with the UK government and inspected to ensure it complies fully with all the rules on the production of Scotch.
All firms involved in the production of Scotch whisky must register with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs by listing their sites within and outside Scotland, including distilleries, maturation facilities, blending and bottling plants. Foreign bottlers will also be subject to controls.
In addition, the spirit is already protected through the European Union GI scheme, meaning it can only be produced in Scotland according to UK rules. The EU requires that the production process of every GI is verified by the authorities.