SWA drops lawsuit against Virginia Distillery

16th August, 2019 by Nicola Carruthers

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has dropped its lawsuit against American producer the Virginia Distillery Company over its use of the word ‘Highland’.

Virginia Distillery Company said it is “extremely transparent” about its production processes

In June this year, the SWA took legal action against Virginia Distillery Company in the US district court in Delaware.

The SWA confirmed that it has now filed a voluntary dismissal of its lawsuit.

.A spokesperson from the SWA said: “We are currently working on an amicable resolution to this dispute. We hope to conclude the matter very soon, without the need for further court action.”

The trade body argued that Virginia Distillery’s products are “being passed off as Scotch whisky” since the term ‘Highlands’ is “reserved exclusively for Scotch whisky under US federal regulations”.

The distillery imports whisky from Scotland, blends it with American single malt and finishes the liquid in Virginia using a variety of cask types.

An earlier statement posted on the Virginia Distillery Company website by CEO Gareth H Moore read: “We are confident this complaint will be resolved, and we will be responding through the court system. We stand behind our product and it’s labelling.

“Our independent distillery launched the Virginia-Highland whisky series over three years ago.

“Our production process pays tribute to both old world and new world techniques while taking advantage of our location and the climate provided by Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

“Our label clearly indicates the source of our whisky, stating ‘Whisky from Scotland, married with Virginia whisky’, and we have always been upfront in descriptions to our customers.”

Moore added that the distillery’s team worked “countless hours” to ensure the labelling was in line with federal TTB rules and “an additional inquiry” from the SWA.

“We’ve always been extremely transparent about our production process – from our labelling to the product’s marketing,” the statement continued.

Virginia Distillery is producing its own American single malt whiskey at its site in Lovingston and will release its Courage & Conviction line next year.

The distillery also said it has the capacity to produce more than 120,000 nine-litre cases of ultra-premium American single malt annually.

In a statement, Moore told The Spirits Business today (16 August): “We are working towards an amicable resolution of the dispute with the Scotch Whisky Association and expect to have more news about that in the near future.”

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