Irish whiskey gains trademark protection

08 February, 2019 by Andy Young

The Australian Government has approved an application by the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA), which sought to protect the name, origins and production claims of products using the name Irish whiskey.

The trademark protection effectively protects Irish whiskey products from ‘fakes’ in Australia and means any products found to be wrongly using the Irish name can be withdrawn from sale.

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IP Australia, the Government agency that administers intellectual property rights and legislation relating to trademarks in Australia issued the protection and has detailed the rules for being able to use the Irish whiskey name.

The IWA has recently stepped up its bid to have Irish whiskey protected around the world, as the product grows in popularity in many key markets, of which Australia is one.

Speaking at the end of last year, IWA Head William Lavelle said: “Whether it’s a Russian spirit with brown colouring or a US-made whiskey being labelled as Irish-style, it is not authentic Irish whiskey.

“The IWA, under the direction of our Head Legal Advisor Carleen Madigan, will be increasing our response to such infringements in line with the priority and funding being provided by our member companies who are the people making real, authentic Irish whiskey here in Ireland.”

He added: “These new guidelines will mean that consumers can be assured that the information appearing on an Irish whiskey label is accurate and not misleading and it will provide a clear and agreed benchmark against which complaints of misleading labelling can be assessed and enforced against.”

Madigan said: “This is a major achievement in our efforts to protect the integrity of Irish whiskey in Australia as a significant export market.

“This registration means Irish whiskey for the first time is protected and defined in Australian law, which will greatly enhance our ability take action against rogue traders. This will ensure Irish whiskey maximises its potential and maintains its growth trajectory.”

In terms of the rules, the trademark specifies: “Irish Whiskey is a spirit distilled from a mash of water and malted barley with, in some cases, whole grains of other cereals. No other substance can be added to the spirit except water to reduce to bottling strength of no less than 40 per cent abv and plain caramel colouring (E150a), if necessary, for the adjustment of colour.

“rish Whiskey must be distilled at a distillery in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland from water and malted barley with, in some cases, also whole grains of other cereals.

“The island of Ireland, which comprises the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.

“Irish Whiskey must retain the colour, aroma and taste derived from the ‘Content’ and ‘Method of manufacture’ requirements described above.

“Bottlers of Irish Whiskey therefore cannot modify, in any manner, the organoleptic characteristics of the product. Irish Whiskey must not be sold at an alcoholic strength less than 40 per cent by volume.”

Australia is a top 10 market for Irish whiskey exports, with the 2018 ALSA-IRI State of the Industry Report stating that the category was enjoying “ongoing double-digit growth”.