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IWA launches major drive against fake Irish whiskey

The Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) has “ramped up” its efforts to combat the sale of counterfeit Irish whiskey globally.

Irish whiskey is an internationally recognised geographic indication

The IWA has tripled its legal budget for 2019 to guarantee there are “sufficient resources” to fight against products that infringe on labelling laws and the sale of Irish whiskey.

Speaking at the Irish Pubs Global Conference 2018 in Galway this morning (9 October), William Lavelle, head of the IWA, said: “As global sales of Irish whiskey continue to sky-rocket, it’s not surprising that fraudsters want to get-in on our success. But it doesn’t mean we’ll let them.

“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.

“The IWA has been taking action against these imitation products since 2014 and this work will ramp-up from 2019.

“To date, we have successfully resolved a number of reported infringement matters through working directly with the brand owners agreeing to take the necessary corrective action. We are also actively pursuing a number of infringing brands in Russia, as well as a number of mislabelling issues with products on sale in the EU.”

Lavelle is urging pubs around the world to check that the Irish whiskeys they supply are GI-compliant and urge them to report any suspected cases of counterfeit Irish whiskeys.

The IWA has “taken steps” to ensure that Irish whiskey is recognised and protected as a geographical indication (GI) in all export markets where there is an existing GI registry.

With the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, the IWA have applications pending in Australia, South Africa, Russia, India and Thailand.

The IWA and Food Safety Authority of Ireland have also agreed a new set of guidelines of the labelling and marketing of the spirit.

Lavelle 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.”

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