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Virginia Distillery drops ‘Highland’ after SWA lawsuit

American producer the Virginia Distillery Company will remove the word ‘Highland’ from its products after reaching an “amicable resolution” in its lawsuit with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

The Virginia Distillery Company will cease using ‘Highland’ on its products

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

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 casks.

Earlier this month, the SWA filed a voluntary dismissal of its lawsuit in a bid to “conclude the matter very soon, without the need for further court action”.

The Virginia Distillery Company will cease using ‘Highland’ on its Virginia-Highland Whisky range after it sells the remaining stock.

The firm said it had “always endeavoured to ensure that their Virginia-Highland Whisky series was labelled in accordance with federal regulations”, but will continue to label its products as ‘whisky’ under US law.

Gareth Moore, Virginia Distillery Company’s CEO, said that he was “happy to work with the Scotch Whisky Association to ensure that there is no chance of confusion about our products”.

He said: “From the start, Virginia Distillery Company has been transparent about the nature of our products, which have been recognised for their quality, and we are committed to growing and championing the American single malt whisky category.”

Lindesay Low, deputy director of legal affairs at SWA, added: “We welcome Virginia Distillery Company’s willingness to work with us to protect the integrity of Scotch whisky.

“With the company’s commitment to remove all references to ‘Highland’ and other Scottish indicators from their products over a phased period, we are pleased to cease the pending legal proceedings.

“We appreciate the prompt and positive attitude shown by the Virginia Distillery Company team in bringing the issue to resolution, removing the need for action in the courts to protect the intellectual property of Scotch whisky.”

Virginia Distillery will release its American single malt line Courage & Conviction next year. A sneak peek of the first product in the range, Prelude: Courage and Conviction, will be unveiled on Sunday (1 September) in Virginia, and across the US from 1 October.

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