The term 'Scotch whisky' is the subject of a test application for geographical indication of origin in China.

Speaking exclusively to just-drinks yesterday (6 June), the Scotch Whisky Association said it is hopeful to have the term recognised in the country in the near future.

"We have been working very closely with the Chinese authorities for the past couple of years," said the association's David Williamson. "We have recently had discussions with the Government, at which they have invited us to submit an application to become the country's first (foreign) geographical indication."

The application, to the Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, was made in March, Williamson said.

"Recognition as a geographical indication will give Scotch whisky enhanced legal protection under Chinese law and improve its protection from locally produced imitations. It also builds on the work we have done with officials to tackle imitations through the existing laws of unfair competition in China, with over 50 suspect products jointly investigated in 2006."

"The application is seen very much as a test case," Williamson continues. "I wouldn't put a timescale on this. You can have a lot of detailed conversations, and then submissions can be pushed through very quickly. This may take some time to come through, but it's encouraging to receive an invitation to submit this."