Scottish Whisky Suffers EU Court Setback over Glen Buchenbach

Whiskies made in Scottish breweries were often named with the prefix “glen”, a word which is evocative of Scotland’s gently sloping valleys. It would not exactly be excellent press for traditional scotch if German whisky were to be named with “glen” in its prefix. While there is a bit of controversy regarding Irish and Canadian whiskies being named with Glen as well, one has to remember that Irish and Canadian whiskies do have a touch of the Gaelic in the way they are presented. This means that by and large, these countries are a part of the English speaking world, which Germany is not. It would not be wrong to say that “Glen Buchenbach” from Germany is a misleading nomenclature, at best.

Still, now that the European Law has had its say, the German Glen Buchenbach has been rendered entirely justifiable. The Waldhorn distillery, where Glen Buchenbach is made, lies in the Buchenbach Valley in Berglen, which is in Swabia. One cannot summarily dismiss the dismay of the Scottish people that easily, though. As a spokesperson of the Scottish Whisky Association put it, “The reputation of geographical indications is crucial and the law is there to prevent unfair advantage being taken of that reputation.” Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe thinks that “glen” does not necessarily have Scottish bearings and that appropriating the term does not violate cultural standards. One assumed the law should have demonstrated greater cultural sensitivity, and this was not quite cricket. That is to say that the verdict was not entirely fair.

31 of 116 Scottish distilleries, all named after the glens they are situated in, are beneficiaries of EU protection. EU protection extends to products like Parma Ham, champagne, and scotch whisky, particularly with an aim to secure geographical indications, as lawyers had argued. Bottles of Glen Buchenbach carrying the legend “Swabian Single Malt” is a small consolation for the people of Scotland.

Whisky News source date: 
Thursday, March 8, 2018