Scotch Whisky gets strong legal protection in Botswana

02 Jul 2015

Recognised as a 'geographical indication' for first time in Africa

Scotch Whisky has been recognised as a 'geographical indication' (GI) - meaning the description can only be used on whisky produced in Scotland in accordance with UK law - for the first time in an African country. This legal breakthrough in Botswana will give consumers a high level of protection against fakes.

Scotch is leading the way in Botswana by becoming the first product to be recognised as a GI, following an application by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Scotch must be made in Scotland from water, cereals and yeast and matured for at least three years. Scotch is now officially recognised in the laws of over 70 countries, including the whole of the European Union. GI status is of great commercial value to the Scotch Whisky industry and gives consumers confidence in the quality and provenance of what they are buying.

While Botswana is a relatively small export market, the value of direct shipments of Scotch last year was up 163% to £456,728 from £173,638 in 2013. A lot of the Scotch destined for Botswana also goes through distribution hubs in South Africa.

The SWA sees great potential for Scotch across Africa as economies develop and become more urbanised. Many young professionals in Africa see Scotch as an aspirational drink of choice, according to the SWA. But as Scotch grows in popularity, attempts are often made to try to take unfair advantage of its success, for example by trying to make and sell fakes. Recognition as a GI helps protect against such illegal activities.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: "We expect to see demand for Scotch increase in many African countries in coming years as economies grow. It's important that consumers have confidence in the quality of what they are buying, which this recognition of Scotch as a 'geographical indication' will help to achieve.

"Botswana recognising Scotch as a GI - a product that must be made in Scotland - is ground-breaking as it's the first product to be given this status. It's also the first time Scotch has been successfully registered as a GI anywhere in Africa. This move will protect consumers and give a boost to the growth of Scotch exports across Africa."

British High Commissioner to Botswana, Nick Pyle, said: "This is great news for British business in Botswana. It will give reassurance to consumers in Botswana that they are buying a quality branded product from the UK."


Geographical Indications (GI)
Only products that have a specific geographical origin and possess a quality and a reputation or other characteristic associated with that origin qualify for GI status. That means Scotch Whisky is recognised as a product that must be made in Scotland and is registered in Regulation (EC) No 110/2008.

GIs were first formally recognised in the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights in 1994. All WTO members must protect a GI from misuse. The Scotch Whisky Association is also registering Scotch Whisky as a GI in as many countries as possible.

With media queries please contact Rosemary Gallagher, Scotch Whisky Association head of communications, 0044 131 222 9230 or 0044 7432 605385, email