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Issue 123 - What's in a Name?

Whisky Magazine Issue 123
October 2014


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What's in a Name?

Diageo and The Explorers' Club Collection

What's in a name? That which we call a whisky by any other name would smell as sweet.' Apologies to Shakespeare for playing fast and loose with Juliet's famous quote, but its message about the importance we attach to names is rather pertinent given the trouble that the travel-retail exclusive Johnnie Walker's Explorers' Club range has become mired in. Launched in 2012, the heavily promoted Explorers' Club collection, which comprises three whiskies (Spice Road, Gold Route and Royal Route), has proven a big hit but following a recent ruling from a New York judge it could soon be stripped from the shelves.

Earlier this year the famous New York Explorers Club, whose past members have included Arctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and astronaut Neil Armstrong, took legal action against Johnnie Walker owner Diageo, claiming the British drinks giant had illegally profited from using its name. In court the non-profit organisation, which aims to promote the scientific exploration of the land, sea, air and space, said Diageo failed to reach a mutually beneficial working relationship with the Explorers Club, but went ahead with the launch of the Collection regardless. “Diageo's conduct directly threatens the reputation and goodwill the Explorers Club and its members have built over more than 100 years,” said Club president Alan Nichols following the US judge's ruling in his favour.

For its part Diageo is putting its considerable resources into fighting the injunction and for the mo...

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