The SWA has been successful it its appeal

The SWA has been successful it its appeal

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has won the latest round of a long-running trademark dispute involving a whisky-like drink that claims to "evoke the flavour of the Highlands".

A High Court judge ruled this week that New Zealand off-licence chain The Mill Liquor Save should not have the trademark for its MacGowans brand – a 13.9% abv whisky-flavoured spirit – registered. 

The SWA had an appeal turned down earlier this year by the assistant commissioner of trademarks in the country, three years after The Mill registered the brand. But, last month, the group had a fresh legal appeal heard in Wellington's High Court

In the ruling, the judge, Justice Kos, reportedly questioned whether MacGowans should be even be recognised as a spirit. "Quite what sort of beverage this is was never entirely clear ... it has a dark-tan colour reminiscent of whisky," Justice Kos was quoted as saying. "At the very least, a product incapable of being labelled 'spirits' cannot be treated as spirits."

A spokesperson for the SWA told just-drinks: “We opposed an application to register this trademark. Registration has been refused by the court, but we cannot say anything further while the period for appeals is still open.”