China pledges to Scotch copycats

China pledges to Scotch copycats

Scotch whisky distillers are toasting a commitment by China's Government to introduce protected name status for their products.

China has given the Scottish Government its word that it will "shortly introduce" Geographic Indication (GI) of Origin status for Scotch whisky.

Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, this week discussed the matter with Shuping Zhi, China's deputy minister for general administration and quality supervision, inspection and quarantine. 

GI status, a European Union initiative to protect some of Europe's best-known food and drink, will give genuine Scotch distillers significantly greater legal protection from imitation whiskies in China.

Scotch distillers welcomed the assurance, which follows three years of pressure from the Scotch Whisky Association and leading politicians and business groups.

"It is a tremendous boost to our whisky industry as producers seek to expand their presence in the hugely important Chinese market," said Salmond.

China has yet to break into the top ten Scotch whisky markets globally, but the country's thirst for premium brown spirits, such as Scotch and Cognac, has bolstered several drinks firms during tough economic times in established western markets.
Still, fraud in the form of refilling bottles and copycat products remains a problem. A union of international drinks companies, the International Federation of Spirits Producers, has around 100 people on the ground in China tasked with rooting out copycat versions of well-known brands.

Global Scotch exports rose by 3% in value in 2009, to GBP3.13bn (US$4.7bn).