Foreign liquor varieties queueing up for GI tag

  It seems foreigners know the weakness of Indians for alcoholic beverages better than anyone else.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It seems foreigners know the weakness of Indians for alcoholic beverages better than anyone else. In the past 10 years, as many as 10 foreign liquor varieties, ranging from Scotch whisky of the United Kingdom to Napa Valley wine of the United States, received Geographical Indication (GI) tag of India, while only two Indian liquor varieties have so far found a place in the coveted GI registry since the introduction of tagging for geographically-specific products in the country. 

Don’t be surprised! This is only the tip of the iceberg. Around 121 foreign alcoholic beverages, including wine and beer, for which papers were submitted by the European Commission before the GI Registry of India, are under the process of registration at various levels. They will be given the tag once the registration process is over. But, at the same time, only one Indian variety – Judima rice wine from Assam – is pending registration before the authorities. 

Polska Wodka from Poland, Finnish Berry Liqueur from Finland, Barolo from Italy, Münchener Bier from Germany and Brandy de Jerez from Spain are some of the foreign varieties awaiting GI tag.

“We have sought some documents regarding foreign liquor varieties submitted by the European Commission for GI tag. Once they produce the documents to prove their credentials, those brands will also be given the GI tag. In the case of Judima rice wine, the GI registry has almost completed the registration and the tag will be given soon,” Chinnaraja G Naidu, Deputy Registrar of Geographical Indications, told Express.

On why there were less Indian liquor varieties with GI tag, he said: “In India, we are mainly promoting Indian-made foreign liquor which does not have any specific geographic uniqueness to claim a GI tag.”

In 2009, the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers & Bottlers Association had registered Feni, a popular alcoholic beverage of the state, with the GI registry, which was followed by the registration of Nashik Valley wine by Maharashtra in 2010. Though the All Goa Toddy Tappers Association filed an application to register Goan coconut Feni with the GI registry, the application was turned down. 

It was Peru which registered the first foreign liquor - ‘Peruvian Pisco’ - with the GI registry in 2009.  
These foreign liquor varieties have unique features in their blending and production which make them eligible to claim the GI tag. Moreover, the tag gives them an edge in the global as well as Indian market and provides protection against infringements, Naidu said.

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