The Virginia Distillery Company in Lovingston, Virginia has been using the name Virginia-Highland Whisky for more than three years. All was fine until the Scotch Whisky Association came knocking on its door threatening legal action for the use of the word ‘Highland’ in the name of their whisky.
The Association claimed that the distillery’s whiskey was being passed off as Scotch. After trying to resolve the issue privately, the Association filed suit in July 2019.
What is Scotch Whisky?
According to the Association here’s their definition of Scotch Whisky. Scotch Whiskey is:
- Made in Scotland from only cereals, water and yeast
- Matured for a minimum of 3 years in oak casks
- Bottled at a minimum strength of 40% abv
- Distilled below 94.8% abv so that it retains the flavour and aroma derived from its raw materials
- No flavouring or sweetening is permitted
Virginia Distillery Co. Agrees to Stop Using ‘Highland’ Whisky Name
The Virginia Distillery Company and the Scotch Whisky Association are pleased to have reached an amicable resolution of the recent lawsuit between the parties related to product labeling.
While they had always endeavored to ensure that their Virginia-Highland Whisky series was labeled in accordance with Federal Regulations, the Virginia Distillery Company will cease using “Highland” after it sells remaining stock. The distillery will, however, continue to label all products using ‘whisky’ which is allowed under U.S. law.
Gareth Moore, Virginia Distillery Company’s CEO, explained: “We stand behind the quality of the Virginia-Highland Whisky products and the recognition they have received the past three-plus years, but are happy to work with the Scotch Whisky Association to ensure that there is no chance of confusion about our products.
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“From the start, Virginia Distillery Company has been transparent about the nature of our products, which have been recognized for their quality, and we are committed to growing and championing the American Single Malt Whisky category.”
Lindesay Low, Deputy Director of Legal Affairs at the SWA, said: “We welcome Virginia Distillery Company’s willingness to work with us to protect the integrity of Scotch Whisky.
“With the company’s commitment to remove all references to ‘Highland’ and other Scottish indicators from their products over a phased period, we are pleased to cease the pending legal proceedings.
“We appreciate the prompt and positive attitude shown by the Virginia Distillery team in bringing the issue to resolution, removing the need for action in the courts to protect the intellectual property of Scotch Whisky”.
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