The story begins in 1999 when our whisky, the first single malt whisky in North America, was ready for release. Produced in a small rural community in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, it had been a long 8 years since that first cask was distilled. Making whisky is a long and expensive process. Glenora Distillery had seen many ups and downs since 1991 but finally it was time to get the whisky to market.
Deliberations began in regard to a name - what to name this unique whisky? Certainly we wanted to reference our home, our island, our community. Many ideas were bantered back and forth, but the one name that seemed to stick was "Glen Breton." "Glen" is a reference to our community of Glenville, the name of our distillery, and the nearby Glenora Falls; "Breton" is a salute to beautiful Cape Breton Island. And so we began the process to trademark the name "Glen Breton Rare."
In 2000, the first Glen Breton Whisky was released .Shortly after that initial release, the label and box were redesigned to feature a bright red maple leaf on the label and box, telling the world we were Canadian and proud of it. A lot of time, effort, and money went in to promoting the new brand in Canada and the world. Marketing Glen Breton as a Canadian Single Malt Whisky, we were off to the races.
But then a speed bump arose. In 2001 the Scotch Whisky Association objected to our Canadian trademark application for "Glen Breton Rare", saying the use of the word "Glen" would confuse the consumer into thinking that our single malt whisky was Scotch, a term used strictly for single malt whisky made in Scotland. A media frenzy followed in newspapers, magazines, online newsletters, forums, and blogs. Our small distillery was a hot topic amongst both the international and local communities.
Thus was the beginning of a battle fought with pen, ink, and paper. The filing of legal documents for both sides were extensive. Years passed.
It wasn't until January 2007 when we had our day in court. The Canadian Trademark Commission agreed with Glenora, saying the Scotch Whisky Association failed to prove its case that our name was misleading. It was time to celebrate! Another media frenzy ensued and many more articles were written, toasts were given.
But it was short-lived. An appeal was quickly filed and subsequently won by the Scotch Whisky Association in the summer of 2008. Again the media picked up the story, but this time it was a hard pill to swallow. We were faced with the strong possibility we would have to re-brand this whisky we put so much money, time, heart and soul into. We had one last chance we had to take - another appeal, this time filed by us.
In 2009, our appeal won - the trademark could be registered.
There was only one more possible roadblock- an appeal by the SWA to the Supreme Court of Canada. On June 11, 2009 the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, with costs.
It took nine years, but we were finally able to have Victory in the Glen.
One year later in June 2009, we released our 15 year old Canadian Single Malt Whisky called "Battle of the Glen." The box features many of the newspaper clippings that were printed about our battle over the years; a battle between a small whisky distillery and a powerful organization.
Fast forward 13 years to June 2022 - here we are, still on the road, moving straight ahead and faster than ever.