Hope to see you there in the forum,
The Wild Scotsman
Hope to see you there in the forum,
The Wild Scotsman
Nothing like David beating Goliath and that is just what happened according to this new article from TheChronicleHerald.ca. I have not been a huge fan of the SWA, which stands for the Scotch Whisky Association. They are supposed to protect the second biggest industry in the UK, Scotch Whisky, however, like the UN their decisions seemed to be based more on politics than what is best. Not all distilleries belong to the organization for the simple reason that they can loose some control in adhering to the rules of the SWA. It is a nice vehicle for the beverage giants as this organization offers one more venue for them to totally control the industry and the competition. A case in point was the fact that Diageo, which owns the brand Cardhu changed there product from a Single Malt Scotchto a Vatted Malt Scotch. By changing the brand from single to vatted they actually mis led the consumer as to what was in the bottle. Instead of manning up to there error they used their contorl of the SWA to make this an issue of the consumer not being educated and not there alleged deception. The end result was that the SWA changed the name of Vatted Malt to “Blended Malt”, which in turn has devalued the oldest formal classification of whisky. If they wanted to be more specific than we should have, Single Blended malt Scotch, as that more correctly describes what is in a bottle of single malt.
I call them like I see them,
Jeffrey Topping aka The Wild Scotsman
One-man law firm scotched whisky group’s case
By CLARE MELLOR Business Reporter
Sat. Jun 13 – 4:46 AM
David Copp doesn’t have a big law office, or even a secretary for that matter, but the Halifax lawyer didn’t think twice about taking on the forces of the Scotch Whisky Association in what has become one of the most notorious trademark cases in the country.
“I am a Cape Bretoner and I am very sensitive to anything that threatens or is damaging to the people and economy of the place that is my home,” he said Friday.
On Thursday, Mr. Copp’s client, Glenora Distillers International Ltd., won a major victory when the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the whisky’s association’s appeal of a Federal Court of Appeal decision. The ruling allows Glenora to register the name Glen Breton, Canada’s only single malt whisky, under the Trademarks Act of Canada.
Mr. Copp, who practices law by himself in Halifax, was hired by the Cape Breton distillery about nine years ago after the Edinburgh-based association tried to stop the distillery’s use of the word Glen in the Glen Breton name. It claimed the name Glen makes consumers believe the whisky is produced in Scotland
But what started out as a seemingly straightforward administrative hearing went all the way to the Federal Court of Appeal.
“It is a little distillery and resort area . . . (and) it has been the subject of a really determined and relentless attack by the Scotch Whisky Association on its primary brand,” Mr. Copp said.
The Scotch Whisky Association represents some multinational corporations like Diageo Plc, which produces and distributes brands including Smirnoff vodka, Johnnie Walker Scotch whiskies, Guinness, Bailey’s; J&B Scotch whisky, Captain Morgan rum and Tanqueray gin, according to its website.
Mr. Copp said he did not believe the association’s attack on Glenora had any merit.
“It is an example of how difficult it can be when large commercial forces align themselves to oppose what is a really important element of success in business — mainly having a good trademark,” he said.
Mr. Copp, who worked as lawyer for the former crown corporation International Centre for Ocean Development in Halifax, has practiced law by himself since 1992, and taken on many trademark cases.
But he concedes they have never been as complicated and time consuming as this case.
He was forced to bring in some paralegal reinforcement to help him keep on top of the massive amounts of documents that the case generated.
“The filing for the Court of Appeal was almost 4,000 pages. Each level produced several bankers boxes (of documents.) . . . We are dealing with tens of thousands of pages of printing.”
The Scotch Whisky Association was represented by national law firm Gowlings in the case.
And while it might be the end of the trademark battle in this county, the Scotch Whisky Association said Friday it could take action outside Canada depending on how Glenora markets its products internationally.
“Our job now, on behalf of the Scotch whisky industry, is to monitor very carefully how the product is marketed and to ensure there is no risk of confusion in any other market,” said the association’s David Williamson.
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Cheers, Jeffrey Topping aka The Wild Scotsman
Taking a sip? Taking a trip? Kentucky hopes to capitalize
FRANKFORT – Time can seem to stand still in Bourbon Country, but change is under way in one of Kentucky’s signature industries as it works to cash in on a growing interest in expensive bourbon and bourbon tourism.
Bourbon sales went stagnant in the last year, growing by just 1 percent. But, even as the recession deepened, the native American spirit gained cachet among cocktail drinkers with a taste for the expensive stuff.
The resurgence in high-end bourbons is behind some recent shifts in an industry that maintains its rural, homegrown feel even as it’s come to be controlled by a handful of global companies.
A New Orleans company best known for lending its name to a cocktail made from cognac recently bought several brands of Kentucky bourbon and is planning to invest nearly $30 million in Frankfort and Owensboro.
Meanwhile, an Italian company best known for a liquor made with fruit and herbs just completed its purchase of American icon Wild Turkey.
And that stalwart of American whiskey-making, Jim Beam, plans to pump millions into its bourbon headquarters in Clermont, Ky., not to make the stuff but to bring in more tourist dollars.
The moves come amid a counter-intuitive trend in U.S. sales of bourbon (and its cousin, Tennessee whiskey). Even as Americans felt poorer, they increasingly moved toward more expensive brands. Case sales of “super-premium” brands such as Woodford Reserve, Van Winkle and Knob Creek, soared 16.5 percent from 2007 to 2008 as classic cocktails, many made with expensive bourbon and rye, continued making a comeback.
“The higher end has been getting more attention, more sales and more volume,” said Danielle Eddy of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
But super-premium brands account for only a fraction – 4 percent – of all the cases sold in the U.S.
Any other industry could ramp up production of the high-priced product to meet the demand. But federal law requires bourbon to be aged at least two years and the expensive brands can spend 10, 15, 20 years or more mellowing in oak barrels before they’re bottled and sold. Quick response to a change in consumer tastes just isn’t possible.
If you want to sell high-end bourbon, you’ve got to buy into it.
New Orleans-based Sazerac North America bought into Kentucky bourbon in 1991with its purchase of the former George T. Stagg distillery in Frankfort. Sazerac is a 159-year-old spirits maker that gave its name to what some say is the original cocktail, the Sazerac, made with bitters and cognac.
Sazerac renamed the distillery Buffalo Trace in 1999 after the Buffalo that once crossed the Kentucky River at the wide, shallow spot there. Buffalo Trace is the oldest continuously operating distillery in the U.S., having operated legally during Prohibition producing spirits for “medicinal use.”
Some of the equipment has been there that long, so a $9 million investment in machinery and equipment is planned, adding 39 jobs to the 270 currently working there.
In March, Sazerac bought more Kentucky bourbon, snapping up the Bardstown-made, value brands such as Kentucky Tavern and Kentucky Gentleman. But with the $334 million deal with Constellation Brands came super-premium Ridgemont Reserve 1792 and the historic Tom Moore Distillery in Bardstown, a potential destination for bourbon tourism.
The purchase also included the Glenmore Distillery in Owensboro, no longer a distillery but a modern bottling and warehouse operation. Sazerac plans to invest about $19 million there to expand by 300,000 feet, add new machinery and about 50 new jobs.
“This is a first in a series of steps to become more competitive nationally and globally,” said Sazerac CEO Mark Brown.
The New Orleans company is also thinking about locating some administrative offices in Louisville, which would bring about 50 jobs.
Overall, bourbon sales may have hit the wall, but the taste for it overseas continues to grow. Bourbon exports grew 14.6 percent in 2007.
But limited supply and the aging requirement make it difficult to increase exports quickly.
“We can’t make as much as the world market can consume. We just can’t do it,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller at Buffalo Trace.
His distillery has the capacity to produce 200,000 barrels a year, but is only putting out 61,000. “You have to invest the money, then wait three years, or four, or seven….” he said.
That may be why Jim Beam is planning to invest in something that could have a quicker return. Clermont, off Interstate 65, is the western gateway to the Bourbon Trail, and Jim Beam wants to capitalize on that with major renovations to its visitor center. About 80,000 tourists each year pass through the center. There are plans to spend $16 million over three years to expand and renovate, in hopes of doubling or even tripling the number of visitors, said Fred Noe III.
“This is the Napa Valley of this part of the country,” Noe said.
Noe is living proof of how time can seem to stand still in Bourbon Country. The 53-year-old is a great-grandson of Jim Beam himself and the seventh generation of the Beam family to carry the title “distiller.”
Another iconic American bourbon brand, Wild Turkey, was just purchased by Gruppo Campari, an Italy-based company whose namesake brand is an aperitif made from bitter herbs, plants and fruit.
The $581 million purchase includes the Wild Turkey brands, the distillery in Lawrenceburg, Ky. and perhaps most importantly, its substantial barrel inventory of aging and finished bourbon.
Keeping up a tradition
Bourbon-making in Kentucky drips with tradition, even as global, billion-dollar companies control much of the business. Maintaining those traditions is especially important for those companies, who see it as critical to their marketing.
Jim Beam, for example, is a $2.5 billion company based in Chicago, itself a unit of Fortune Brands, a $7.5 billion company that also sells cabinets, faucets, golf balls and even kitchen sinks.
But there once was a man named Jim Beam, who took over the family business in 1894 and rebuilt it after Prohibition. Jim Beam Global keeps the family lineage alive through Beam’s great-grandson, Frederick Booker Noe III.
Noe, a 52-year-old Kentuckian, wears various titles, including master distiller emeritus, bourbon ambassador and keeper of the flame.
Noe says his role is to hang on to the traditions.
“My job isn’t to change anything,” he says. “My job is to hold it and hopefully to pass it on to my son down the road.”
That would be Frederick Booker Noe IV, currently a college student.
Contrary to popular belief, bourbon does not have to be made in Kentucky as long as its production follows these rules:
– It must be made in the United States.
– At least 51 percent of the content must come from corn; the rest from grains.
– It must be aged at least two years in a new white oak barrel.
– To be labeled and marketed as “Kentucky bourbon,” it must be distilled in Kentucky and aged there for at least a year.
– To be labeled as “straight bourbon whiskey,” it must be aged at least two years.
Many thanks to everyone from the Party Source Cigar Department for inviting me to pour my Wild Scotsman Black Label at there Cigar Night. I always have time to enjoy a great cigar with great scotch whisky.I was very pleased to see everyone enjoying my new Black Label Vatted Malt Scotch as this brand was specifically created to compliment my enjoyment of having great cigars like those presented by Alec Bradley Cigar Company.
I hope to see all of your soon for another event or just grabbing a good pint with our friends at the Beer Sellar