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View Full Version : Does 'glen' equal 'scotch'?



cowdery
06-10-2009, 00:37
Today it was announced that the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) will appeal a Canadian court ruling allowing Glenora to call its malt whiskey 'Glen Breton.' Why does the SWA care? Because Glen Breton is made in New Scotland, i.e., Nova Scotia, not in that other Scotland.

The SWS believes 'glen' means 'scotch,' and if you put 'glen' in the name of a liquor, consumers will wrongly think it is scotch, and that would be bad.

Here is what the producer, Glenora Distillery, has to say about it on its web site: "Glen Breton Rare Canadian Single Malt Whisky is the only single malt whisky produced in Canada. It is produced by the traditional copper pot stills method using only three ingredients: Barley, Yeast and Water."

I should mention that Glenora Distillery is in the town of Glenville, in Inverness County, on Cape Breton Island, "a place where the Gaelic culture lives and thrives," according to the distillery's web site.

Remember, they're not trying to use the word 'scotch,' they're trying to use the word 'glen.'

More here (http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/2009/06/does-glen-equal-scotch.html).

sku
06-10-2009, 10:57
Typical overreaching by the SWA.

wadewood
06-10-2009, 12:05
Also posted on Chuck's blog -

Quick answer - no. They don't use the word Scotch anywhere on the label so they are well within their rights. I remember when some US producers of "Agave spirit" wanted to call their product Tequila. My answer then was that Tequila, like Scotch, is protected to a certain geographic area and they should create and market a new category for themselves.

Glenora is doing exactly that - more power to them.

ILLfarmboy
06-13-2009, 08:34
Doesn't the word glen mean village, township, or some such?

If the SWA succeeded, it would be like a single village mescal preventing another spirits producer from using the term "village".

ILLfarmboy
06-13-2009, 15:55
Doesn't the word glen mean village, township, or some such?

If the SWA succeeded, it would be like a single village mescal preventing another spirits producer from using the term "village".


Chuck's blog cleared it up. "valley" is the word I was searching for.

Lost Pollito
06-13-2009, 16:08
They don't use the word scotch , and it says Canada on the box. However, the issue seems to be the whiskey is made in Glenville on Cape Breton. Why combine two words that resemble a scotch distillery name? So far as I can tell, there is no Glen Breton. I truly could care less, but I see why swa would be irked.

TNbourbon
06-13-2009, 20:09
This is kinda like if Kentucky were to sue publishers of the Bible, for including: "...And the crooked shall be made straight..."
Hey, they mean bourbon, right?!
:rolleyes:
Tim
from Glennessee

craigthom
06-14-2009, 08:23
They don't use the word scotch , and it says Canada on the box. However, the issue seems to be the whiskey is made in Glenville on Cape Breton. Why combine two words that resemble a scotch distillery name? So far as I can tell, there is no Glen Breton. I truly could care less, but I see why swa would be irked.

Irked, yes, but do they have legal grounds to make them stop doing it? It's not the implication that's important; it's the letter of the law and whether consumers will be confused into thinking this is actually made in Scotland.

I think it's clear that the name "Glen Breton" is intended to make customers think of Scotland and scotch whisky, but that's not the same as making them think this is a product of Scotland and is actual scotch whisky.

It's not misleading, in my opinion, to make customers think of Scotch whisky. They use, or at least did when I visited in 2002, malted barley important from Scotland, and they use stills from Scotland, and they use techniques from Scotland, and they use Jack Daniels barrels for aging.

What they make tastes like scotch and would be scotch if it was made in Scotland. It's not as if they are implying that a Canadian whiskey is like scotch.

I don't think it should be illegal to imply a comparison. As long as they don't claim to be "Scotch whisky" there is no damage to any product of Scotland, and that's what all the law should protect against.

People may have a problem with the implication of the name, but that doesn't mean it should be illegal. There are a lot of things people do that I don't approve of, but I don't think they should all be illegal.

What if a Canadian distillery started making whiskey using all the requirements for bourbon except the USA origin? Would it be wrong to name it "Booger Hollow Sour Mash Whiskey", even if it's made in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, not Booger Hollow? What's protected by law is the word "bourbon".

OscarV
06-14-2009, 08:38
It looks like they can keep their name.
The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear to hear SWA'a appeal.
Link to the June 13 story is below.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1127145.html

RWBadley
06-14-2009, 13:25
It looks like they can keep their name.
The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear to hear SWA'a appeal.
Link to the June 13 story is below.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1127145.html

Do any of you think the matter would have turned out different in the States? Does this open up the can for Clear Creek (makers of a 'Single Malt' whiskey), Anchor, or any others that choose to call their wannabe Scotch-like whisky Glen something or other?

Interesting now this precedent has been set...

Megawatt
06-14-2009, 19:13
Do any of you think the matter would have turned out different in the States? Does this open up the can for Clear Creek (makers of a 'Single Malt' whiskey), Anchor, or any others that choose to call their wannabe Scotch-like whisky Glen something or other?

Interesting now this precedent has been set...

Good question. If single malt distillers in other countries started doing this in large numbers, it could indeed get confusing as to what is Scotch and what is not.

On the other hand, consumers who would get confused by this probably don't know the difference between Scotch and Canadian single malt anyway. I've heard several people refer to Glen Breton as "Canadian Scotch". Such people don't understand exactly what Scotch is to begin with so why worry about confusing them?

cowdery
06-15-2009, 12:39
Wow, the Canadian Supreme Court works fast. It was only on Tuesday that the SWA announced its intention to appeal.

The case of Barton v Brown-Forman WRT Ridgewood Reserve (Now Ridgemont Reserve) was very similar. Although there were a lot of allegations back and forth, it all seemed to hinge on the word "wood," in that "Ridgewood Reserve" was just too close to "Woodford Reserve." That case was decided in a Federal District Court, if I remember correctly.

Both cases are trademark cases based on alleged consumer confusion, either actual confusion or likely confusion. An appropriate outcome in this case would be a ruling that consumers are not likely to mistakenly believe Glen Breton is a product of Scotland. SWA contends, but apparently has failed to convince the Supreme Court of Canada, that mere use of the word "Glen" is sufficient to cause likely consumer confusion.

AVB
06-16-2009, 08:20
I guess the closest we have is JD. It isn't bourbon but certainly enjoys the association that people think it's bourbon.

If anyone is interested my review of Glen Breton is here. (http://www.cigarpass.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=32829)

ILLfarmboy
06-16-2009, 12:41
....If anyone is interested my review of Glen Breton is here. (http://www.cigarpass.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=32829)


Cheese and rice..... It says Canada's only single malt whiskey prominently on the front label. Who would be confused by that? "Canada's only" clearly indicated it was not made in Scotland...so it can't be a scotch. Besides, unless my eyes fail me, on the label the word "whiskey" is spelled with the "e". Isn't it the scotch snobs who claim that the difference in spelling indicates not a difference in spelling but a distinct product? That kind of works against then in this case.

cowdery
06-17-2009, 11:54
They spell it without the "e," but the SWA might just as well complain about that, because it's the same issue.

The SWA should have thought about this 200 years ago or so, when Scots started to settle in other parts of the world, scattering Scottish place names about in their new homes. They maybe should also have been a little more original about their own distillery and brand naming, and not have everything be Glen-this and Glen-that.

That, however, is not Glenora's problem. All things considered, they would have trouble avoiding a name with Scottish antecedents if they wanted to. Any claim that Glenora is trying to confuse consumers is preposterous.

Canadian whiskey producers universally use the "whisky" spelling and hew to British practices in most other respects. Glen Breton isn't even Canada's only malt whiskey, it's just the only one that is released unblended. John Hall makes malt whiskey but only uses it as part of his blends, as do even some of the majors (the rest use a multi-grain mash that contains malt, but don't make all-malt whiskey).