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Issue 2 - See you in court

Whisky Magazine Issue 2
March 1999


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See you in court

Jim Murray beomans a legal spat over a barrel, from which only the solicitors and whisky experts will gain

There are times these days when I don't feel that I'm a whisky writer at all, but an umpire.

Every time, it seems, that I return from a jet-lagging jaunt to some obscure distillery, I am welcomed home by about 60 pages of faxed messages. You can bet that the gloomiest of them all will be from a lawyer involved in some spat between whisky companies, usually over a brand, saying: ‘We write to you because we understand that you are an expert on whisky...'.

Next, inevitably, comes the request. Would I be willing (a) to discuss the matter with a solicitor; (b) to appear in court and give my views on some matter; (c) to write a letter to be read out in court. And so on.

Usually these letters are placed, with a deep sigh, back at the bottom of the pile. The latest, however, had me grabbing the telephone to nail my colours to its sender's mast. For when the Trade Mark Registry merrily granted application number 2050774, one company blew a fuse that could put out a lot of lights across the whisky world.

The letter was from a chap representing Age International, owner of the Ancient Age distillery in Kentucky, which for many years I have lauded as second only in stature to Ardbeg on Islay. I had long gnashed my teeth at the near-impossibility of finding its whiskey in Britain. Age International had filed application 2050774 to register the mark Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon for Bourbon.

According to this letter Age International was trying to introduce the excellent Blanton's...

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