Scotch Whisky secures trademark in Hong Kong

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) announced that its application to register “Scotch Whisky” as a Certification Trademark in Hong Kong has been successful.

Trademark recognition means that the description “Scotch Whisky” can only be used on whisky produced in Scotland in accordance with strict production and labelling requirements.

Those requirements include that Scotch only be made from the raw materials of water, cereals and yeast and matured in Scotland for at least three years in oak casks.

Hong Kong is now one of more than 100 global territories which have officially recognised Scotch as a Scottish product, produced according to traditional methods, and deserving of special protection.

Scotch Whisky is already protected as a Geographical Indication (GI) and a trademark in Mainland China and as a GI in Macao.

“This is the first time that Scotch Whisky has been explicitly recognised in Hong Kong,” said the SWA.

“Before the trademark was granted, its protection would have relied on the law of passing off, which would involve expensive and complex court proceedings.”

Last week the SWA released new figures showing that the value of Scotch exports in the first half of 2023 held steady when compared with the record exports of the first half of 2022.

The value of Scotch whisky exports in the first half of 2023 was £2.57 billion, down by 3.6% or £95.8 million on the first half of 2022.

In the same period, however, the volume of exports fell by 20% or the equivalent of 160 million 70cl bottles to the equivalent of 630 million 70cl bottles.

Lindesay Low, Deputy Legal Director at the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “Hong Kong is an increasingly important market for Scotch Whisky, with exports to the region worth more than £31m in 2022.

“Improving protection of Scotch Whisky in developing markets is a priority for the SWA Legal Team, as consumers in these markets explore and expand their knowledge of Scotland’s national drink.

“Hong Kong’s recognition of the Scotch Whisky certification trademark gives consumers in the market the confidence and certainty that what they are purchasing is the genuine quality product.”

Brian Davidson, British Consul General to Hong Kong and Macao, said: “This milestone recognises Scotch Whisky as a symbol of Scotland’s rich heritage and craftsmanship. We are grateful for the continued appreciation shown by Hong Kong consumers – they can now have even more confidence in the provenance of Scotland’s beloved national spirit.”