Wednesday, 1 July 2015

1.7.15 Sherry Cask Fever

The Spanish Patents and Brands Office (OEPM) has blocked an attempt by a bodega in Huelva to “appropriate” the use of the term “Sherry casks” along with derivative terms such as “Amontillado cask”, “Oloroso cask” etcetera for which the bodega had sought registration, thus legitimising what the Consejo Regulador in Jerez considers as fraud.

José y Miguel Martín, a bodega in Bollullos del Condado in Huelva, wanted a legal framework by which the distillers who buy their seasoned casks could use these terms on their labels, terms which are protected under the Denominación de Origen (DO) Jerez and which are experiencing a growing prestige in the markets, and which distillers naturally want to use.

A cooperage in Jerez (foto:Vanesa Lobo/Diario Jerez)
The bodega has decided to appeal the OEPM decision and has also registered at the Jerez Consejo, but this step does not give them the right to use protected terms unless from now on they buy Jerez grapes for seasoning and submit to a voluntary process to guarantee traceability.

This Sherry cask fever is growing along with increasing whisky sales and the Consejo has taken steps to increase vigilance and control of a rapidly expanding business, one which has aroused the interest not only of Jerez producers, but also those in other DO’s in Andalucía such as Condado de Huelva and Montilla-Moriles.

The Jerez Consejo is already a long way down the line with the process. Having obtained the backing of the Agriculture Ministry, they have held discussions with those who season casks and who voluntarily want to sign up for the new register for this activity which would authorise the use of terms such as “Sherry cask” on the labels of spirits aged in them.

The Consejo has some allies in the form of leading whisky distillers such as the Macalllan, who requested the establishment of a certification which guarantees the use of the term only when the whisky is aged in casks seasoned with Sherry. According to César Saldaña, director of the Consejo, the intention is to run with the voluntary system which does not oblige anyone to submit to the process, but which can restrict certification. The Sherry Consejo supports a brand with a valuable reputation which inevitably attracts fraud, and the use of Sherry casks for the ageing of whisky must therefore be regulated.

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