A Hamburg court is to determine if the Glen Buchenbach whisky from Germany can keep its name, the European Court of Justice has ruled. The Scotch Whisky Association had argued it could be mistaken for Scotch whisky.
When it comes to whisky, the word "glen," meaning "narrow valley" in Gaelic, is automatically associated with Scotch Whisky, the Scottish Whisky Association argued. That's why it sued the maker of Glen Buchenbach, a distillery in the southwestern German community of Berglen, arguing that consumers could think the whisky contained Scotch.
The Waldhorn distillery insisted that consumers would not confuse its German product with Scotch as the label clearly states that it is "Swabian Single Malt Whisky."
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The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Thursday referred the case back to the Hamburg court that previously dealt with it, saying in a statement that the German body needed to determine if a "reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect" consumer would think of Scotch whisky when confronted with the name "Glen Buchenbach."
Scotch is protected, 'Glen' isn't
Scotch Whisky is protected as a Geographical Indication (GI) in the EU, meaning it can only be produced in Scotland. The word "glen" in that context is not protected, but Scottish producers, many of whom use the term in their products, argued that consumers would usually associate the word with Scotch whisky.
The traditional home of whisky, Scotland has seen stiff competition in recent years not only from traditional producers in Ireland, Canada and the United States, but also from relative newcomers in Japan and Germany. Many of those whiskies also use the word "glen" on products.
Germany boasts around 150 distilleries; it has its own whisky producers' association, which holds regular competitions and celebrates "German Whisky Day."
ng/sms (dpa, AFP)