The significance of the UK Geographical Indication scheme
28 July 2023
Single Malt Welsh Whisky has been awarded protected status under the UK Geographical Indication scheme (UKGI). This is another example of the significance of the UKGI scheme to producers.
A geographical indication (GI) is a form of intellectual property that protects food, drink and agricultural products originating from a specific region, with specific methods of production. Well-known GIs include Champagne, Parmigiano Reggiano and Stilton Cheese.
Following Brexit, the UKGI was set up in place of the EU’s scheme to ensure that certain UK food and drinks producers can secure legal protection to guarantee a product’s characteristics or reputation, authenticity and origin. Four distilleries were part of the final bid to be awarded the UKGI status for Single Malt Welsh Whisky; these include Penderyn, In the Welsh Wind, Da Mhile, and Coles.
Single Malt Welsh Whisky is the first UK spirit drink to be registered and protected under the new scheme. However, it appears that Welsh food and drink producers are well accustomed to obtaining protected status as Single Malt Welsh Whisky is not the first to gain recognition under the new UKGI scheme. In August 2021, “Gower lamb” was the first British food to obtain UKGI protection post-Brexit, and a total of 20 food and drinks have officially been protected in Wales, including Welsh lamb and Caerphilly Cheese.
UKGIs are different to trade marks. Trade marks are owned, whereas no individual or business owns a GI. Any producer, which follows the product’s specification and is verified to do so, can make and sell a product under a registered product name. Producers who do not meet the requirements cannot describe their products as Single Malt Welsh Whisky.
This is another significant leap in the British food and drink industry in establishing quality and authenticity; once a GI is registered it allows the local producers to grow the reputation for their unique methods of production to consumers and to get the recognition for the special nature of their product.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at July 2023.