SWA ‘drops lawsuit’ against Virginia Distillery

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has reportedly dropped its lawsuit against American producer the Virginia Distillery Company over its use of the word ‘Highland’.

In June this year, the SWA took legal action against Virginia Distillery Company in the US district court in Delaware.

According to reports, the SWA’s lawyers filed a voluntary dismissal yesterday (15 August).

The trade body argued that Virginia Distillery’s products are “being passed off as Scotch whisky” since the term ‘Highlands’ is “reserved exclusively for Scotch whisky under US federal regulations”.

The distillery imports whisky from Scotland, blends it with American single malt and finishes the liquid in Virginia using a variety of cask types.

A spokesperson from the SWA said: “We are currently working on an amicable resolution to this dispute. We hope to conclude the matter very soon, without the need for further court action.”

An earlier statement posted on the Virginia Distillery Company website by CEO Gareth H Moore read: “We are confident this complaint will be resolved, and we will be responding through the court system. We stand behind our product and it’s labelling.

“Our independent distillery launched the Virginia-Highland whisky series over three years ago.

“Our production process pays tribute to both old world and new world techniques while taking advantage of our location and the climate provided by Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

“Our label clearly indicates the source of our whisky, stating ‘Whisky from Scotland, married with Virginia whisky’, and we have always been upfront in descriptions to our customers.”

Moore added that the distillery’s team worked “countless hours” to ensure the labelling was in line with federal TTB rules and “an additional inquiry” from the SWA.

“We’ve always been extremely transparent about our production process – from our labelling to the product’s marketing,” the statement continued.

Virginia Distillery is producing its own American single malt whiskey at its site in Lovingston and will release its Courage & Conviction line next year.

The distillery also said it has the capacity to produce more than 120,000 nine-litre cases of ultra-premium American single malt annually.

The Spirits Business has contacted the Virginia Distillery Company for new comment and is awaiting a response.

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