The Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) will launch a “major worldwide drive” against counterfeit Irish whiskeys.
Members of the representative body for the Irish whiskey industry have agreed to treble the association’s legal budget for 2019, in a move to ensure there are sufficient resources to fight against products that infringe on the laws governing the labelling and sale of Irish whiskey.
Irish whiskey is an internationally recognised Geographic Indication, meaning that it can only be made on the island of Ireland.
IWA head William Lavelle said: “As global sales of Irish whiskey continue to sky-rocket, it’s not surprising that fraudsters want to get in on our success. But it doesn’t mean we’ll let them. Whether it’s a Russian spirit with brown colouring or a US-made whiskey being labelled as ‘Irish-style’, it’s not authentic Irish whiskey.”
He added: “The IWA has been taking action against these imitation products since 2014 and this work will ramp-up from 2019.”
“To date, we have successfully resolved a number of reported infringement matters through working directly with the brand owners agreeing to take the necessary corrective action. We are also actively pursuing a number of infringing brands in Russia, as well as a number of mislabelling issues with products on sale in the EU.”
The IWA has also urged Irish pubs around the world to help by checking that the Irish whiskeys they supply are GI-compliant and by reporting any suspected cases of ‘fake’ Irish whiskeys.
It has also aimed to ensure that Irish whiskey is recognised and protected as a Geographical Indication (GI) in all export markets where there is an existing GI registry. Where such GI protection is not available, other means of protecting Irish whiskey are considered, such as registering Irish whiskey as a certification or collective trademark. The IWA has applications pending in Australia, South Africa, Russia, India and Thailand.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the IWA have also recently agreed to a new set of guidelines on the labelling and marketing of Irish whiskey.
Lavelle added: “These new guidelines will mean that consumers can be assured that the information appearing on an Irish whiskey label is accurate and not misleading; and it will provide a clear and agreed benchmark against which complaints of misleading labelling can be assessed and enforced against.”
He concluded: “Irish whiskey remains one of the most exciting and dynamic spirits categories on the planet. We want to make sure consumers know what they’re drinking and we want to ensure the good name of Irish whiskey and the high standards which have become a hallmark of the category continue to be protected and enforced around the world.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020
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