Scotch whisky has recently been granted Geographical Indicator status in the Philippines. Only four other goods have been registered in the Philippines and Scotch is the first product from the UK to earn this status in the territory.

Figures from the Scotch Whisky Association show that the Philippines is a growing market for Scotch whisky. Exports to the Southeast Asian archipelago increased 40% in 2023 when compared to 2019. Trade between the UK and the Philippines is significant for both countries' economies, with the trade relationship between the two nations estimated to be worth £3 billion.

For Scotch, GI status means that ‘Scotch whisky’ is a product that can only be made in Scotland under a specific set of conditions (made using water, cereal and yeast, matured in oak for a minimum of three years etc).

The SWA identify this protective status as a hugely important factor in maintaining Scotch whisky’s reputation internationally and helps increase consumer confidence in Scotch. GI status guarantees that people are buying the genuine product by reducing the risk of other spirits branding themselves as ‘“Scotch” and taking advantage of Scotch whisky’s reputation as a high quality product.

This news means that the Philippines joined more than 100 global territories that have granted Scotch whisky protected status. Recent years have seen the SWA increase their efforts to protect and improve Scotch’s standing around the globe via gaining GI status in different territories.

In August 2023, Scotch whisky was granted protective status in Hong Kong, replacing the expensive and complicated legal proceedings previously used in the region. Scotch whisky was also successfully registered as a trademark in South Africa and South Korea in 2018 and 2019 respectively, while Scotch’s protection in China was extended to 2028 a few years ago.

Of course, Scotch isn’t the only product that benefits from GI status. In the Philippines, whisky produced in Scotland joined Guimaras mangoes, Cognac, and Parmigiano Reggiano in being granted protection in the area.

Throughout the world, many of the great food and drink items you can think of are probably protected by GI status or something similar: several cheeses such as Stilton, Halloumi and Feta are all offered protection; German Bratwurst and Sauerkraut are similarly safeguarded; Champagne is probably the best known GI beneficiary, but most other wines that carry the name and reputation of their provenance (such as Bordeaux) are also protected.

Other whiskies made in the UK are seeking a similar GI status that is enjoyed by Scotch. Last year Welsh whisky was granted GI status in the UK, which was seen as the first step in helping promote and celebrate the product globally.

Founded in 2022, the English Whisky Guild is an organisation akin to the SWA. Their ambition is for “English whisky to be recognised globally as a respected choice for whisky drinkers”. One of their main battles has been seeking to legally define ‘English whisky’ through GI status.

GI guarantee is coveted in emerging industries such as English and Welsh whisky, so the fact that Scotch whisky continues to be offered such protection globally should be celebrated.

Regardless of your opinion on Stilton or Sauerkraut (or indeed Scotch!), it’s clear that the protection offered by GI status isn’t granted to any and every product on the planet. These products are revered globally for their objective quality and cultural significance.

Scotch being granted GI status in the Philippines serves as a reminder of Scottish whisky’s standing and reputation. That is, Scotland’s national spirit sits among the very finest food and drink in the world