Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Thoughts On The Whole Glenora v SWA Thing.

What do scotch enthusiasts think about the Scotch Whiskey Association (SWA) and its nine-year campaign to prevent a small Canadian distillery from using the word "Glen" in its product name? I checked Kevin Erskine's The Scotch Blog, where Erskine offered his opinion, then turned the floor over to Mark Reynier of Scotland's Bruichladdich Distillery.

I agree with both of them. As Erskine says, "it's silly and was a dumb fight for the SWA to pick." As Reynier points out, Glenora's VP and chief spokesperson is named Bob Scott, so the SWA should be glad he used a local place name and not his own surname.

As anyone willing to look at the facts can see, Glenora actually went to great pains to make sure consumers understand that their whiskey is a product of Canada, not Scotland.

I suppose it makes sense for the SWA to test the limits, push the envelope, all that, in its efforts to protect the image of Scotland-produced whiskey; but they should have thought about this 200 years ago or so, when Scots started to settle in other parts of the world, scattering Scottish place names about in their new homes. They maybe should also have been a little more original about their own distillery and brand naming, and not have everything be Glen-this and Glen-that.

And the whole spelling thing--whiskey v whisky--has already been done to death.

The real target here is not Canada anyway, it's India, where so-called "Indian Whiskey," a spirit usually not even made from grain, is marketed with tartans and Scottish-sounding names and every other bit of Scottish imagery the producers can get away with. The SWA's goal, of course, is to vanquish the fake scotch so consumers in that booming economy will buy more real scotch.

1 comment:

Max Watman said...

I keep thinking about 2 things in regards this whole battle:

1) Guitar lawsuits are often urban myths, but I've heard that the issue there comes down to whether or not the person in the store, upon reaching out to buy a guitar, might think that they are buying a Telecaster when they are, in fact, buying a copy. Isn't that what the trademark issues would rest upon? If the purchaser imagined as they bought this Canadian whiskey that they were buying Scotch? Seems like a stretch.

2) Then, I remember that lots of people think that Southern Comfort is a bourbon. Of course, you can't litigate an education into those folks. So people who think they're drinking Scotch when they are not will probably be convinced of that fact no matter what is on the label.