»Glen Buchenbach« whisky: the spirit from the Swabian distillery shouldn't be called that
Photo: Bernd Weissbrod / dpa
After years of legal wrangling, the whiskey dispute between a Swabian distillery and the Association of Scottish Whiskey Producers has been decided.
The Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in Hamburg has rejected the appeal of the Swabians against a judgment from the lower court, a court spokesman said.
Accordingly, the distillery violates the spirits regulation of the EU by using the name "Glen Buchenbach".
The Scotch Whiskey Association (SWA) had sued because, in their view, the “Glen” part of the name suggested that the whiskey was of Scottish origin.
In 2019, the association was right before the district court.
"Geographical indications in the food sector are particularly protected, not only against misleading use, but also against allusions in the names of other products," said the court spokesman.
"For such an allusion within the meaning of the Spirits Regulations, it is sufficient if the product's name can be directly associated with the protected geographical indication." Therefore, whiskey that does not come from Scotland should not be called Glen.
Accordingly, no appeal was allowed against the judgment of the Higher Regional Court.
However, an appeal could be lodged with the Federal Court of Justice.
"Of course we respect and accept the verdict - but we don't understand it," said Jürgen Klotz from the French horn distillery in Berglen near Stuttgart.
Ample and conclusive evidence had been presented showing that the glen - a Gaelic term for a narrow glen - was not of Scottish origin and therefore no Scottish origin could be attached to it.
"In fact, the court has officially confirmed that there are valleys only in Scotland," said Klotz.
In addition to Glen, the SWA also lists terms such as Loch or Highland on its website, which whiskey manufacturers use to try to suggest Scottish origin. A violation of the law also exists if the typical tartan pattern, bagpipes or figures dressed in a kilt – i.e. a tartan skirt – are depicted on labels.
In 2013, the SWA asked them to refrain from using the “Glen” part of their name, according to the family business from Swabia.
In the meantime, the case was already before the European Court of Justice, which returned it to the German judiciary in 2018.
Klotz said that the deletion of the part of the name had been opposed for nine years.
"We held out for a very long time and did really well - but the opponent is simply overpowered and has more resources."