The spirits industry’s high profile semantic battle reached an amicable conclusion on Thursday (8.29). The Virginia Distillery Company and the Scotch Whisky Association reached an out-fo-court compromise over VDC’s use of the words “Highland” and “Whisky.”
The parties agreed that VDC can continue to use the word “whisky” on their spirit, but will stop using the term “Highland” once current supplies are exhausted.
“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,” said Lindesay Low, Deputy Director of Legal Affairs at the SWA, in a joint statement with VDC.
The long-running dispute centered around VDC’s “Virginia-Highland Whisky.” The juice is a blend of imported Scottish malts and locally distilled Virginia product. According to a legal filing, the SWA objected to use of the terms “Whisky” (with specific mention made of the missing e) and “Highland” which the plaintiffs argue are indicators of Scottish origins—not Virginian origins.
VDC countered that the terms were fine given the presence of Scotch whisky in the blend. Alas, the SWA disagreed and in July, the argument landed in court.
“These proceedings were not taken lightly, but only after more than 12 months of attempts by the SWA to resolve this issue privately with the company in question,” read a statement from the SWA at the time. “The Association would still welcome a resolution of the matter without the need for Federal Court involvement.”
Fortunately, VDC and the SWA were able to talk it out.
“Virginia Distillery Company stands behind its labeling process. We’re happy to have come to a resolution with the Scotch Whisky Association,” added VDC CEO Gareth Moore. “We’re happy to have come to a resolution with the Scotch Whisky Association. We’re looking ahead to the 2020 launch of our American Single Malt whisky line, Courage & Conviction.”