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Protecting Scotch Whisky

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  We disagree.  The popularity of Scotch Whisky means that there are many people who want to take advantage of that by selling fake Scotch or trading unfairly on its reputation. Imitations threaten the integrity of Scotch Whisky and the reputation it has built up over many years.  It also undermines consumer confidence in genuine Scotch Whisky.

Featured Insight

Thinking of investing in Scotch Whisky?

Read our guidance on personal cask investment

What is Scotch Whisky?

The basic definition of Scotch Whisky can be found in the UK Law.  In summary, Scotch Whisky is:

  • Made in Scotland from only cereals, water and yeast
  • Matured for a minimum of 3 years in oak casks
  • Bottled at a minimum strength of 40% abv
  • Distilled below 94.8% abv so that it retains the flavour and aroma derived from its raw materials
  • No flavouring or sweetening is permitted


Meet the Legal Team

Our legal team is primarily responsible for the worldwide protection of Scotch Whisky.

At any one time, the team will be handling between 60 to 70 cases in courts around the world, many more investigations and a substantial trademark caseload.

At the end of 2023, our legal team reflected on some of their successes from the year that had been.

We spoke to the team at Glenturret Distillery on why protecting Scotch Whisky is so important.

Legal Protection in the UK

Protecting Scotch Whisky from unfair competition is therefore one of our top priorities. Strong legal protection forms the solid foundation on which the industry’s success is built.

Protecting Scotch Whisky outside the UK

As a registered "Geographical Indication" (GI) in many overseas markets including the EU, Scotch Whisky is protected from misuse, imitation, evocation and any other practice liable to mislead consumers.

Help us protect Scotch Whisky

Take a look a our guide on how to spot fake Scotch Whisky, and how to report it to the SWA Legal team

Q&A: Scotch Whisky Cask Specification

The legal requirements for Scotch Whisky have been be amended to broaden the casks allowed for maturation. Here we answer your questions.

Protecting Scotch Whisky news & commentary

22 April 2024

SWA legal team toasts success in South Korea

In the first such case to use Scotch Whisky’s South Korean certification trade mark, which was granted in 2019, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has successfully stopped the sale of fake Scotch Whisky which misleads consumers and damages legitimate trade.

25 April 2022

Joint statement with Macaloney Brewer & Distillers Ltd

A joint statement with Macaloney Brewer & Distillers Ltd

20 January 2022

Decision over Glen Buchenbach upheld by appeal court

The SWA has won the legal case against the use of 'Glen' in Germany.

05 August 2020

SWA releases new guidance on personal investment in Scotch Whisky casks

The SWA has published guidance for individuals looking to invest in Scotch Whisky casks.

12 December 2019

Scotch Whisky secures GI protection in Cambodia

Cambodia is the latest country in which Scotch Whisky's geographical indication is officially registered.

31 May 2019

SWA legal team wins 'Team of the Year' award

The SWA has been recognised for its work to protect Scotch Whisky at an awards ceremony in Boston.

Protecting Scotch Whisky pages

Personal Investment in a Scotch Whisky Cask

Read our dedicated guidance for what to consider if you're thinking about investing in a cask of Scotch Whisky. Anyone quoting this guidance should not do so selectively and should provide clear links back to this page.