Whisky barrels

Scotch whisky has been given legal protection against fakes across the 17 member countries of the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle.

Trade body the Scotch Whisky Association, which made the successful application for Geographical Indication (GI) status, said Scotch was the first spirit to gain such protection in the OAPI. GI status recognises Scotch must be made in Scotland from water, cereals and yeast and matured for at least three years.

“This is a significant step forward in the protection of Scotch whisky,” said SWA legal counsel Andrew Swift. “OAPI covers a vast area with a growing population, and demand for Scotch from countries in OAPI is growing.”

Exports to OAPI countries - which make up more than a fifth of the geographical area of Africa and have a total population of more than 150 million people - rose from £5m to £13.6m between 2005 and 2014, he added.

“Geographical indication status is of great value to the Scotch whisky industry and ensures we have the tools we need to protect consumers and stop unfair competition.”

Scotch is now officially recognised in the laws of nearly 100 countries, including the whole of the European Union.

OAPI comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Republic of Congo, Senegal and Togo.