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Officials deny general "whisky" ban—but whisky fair can’t call itself that

Officials from the State Regional Administration Agency have said they did not ban private bloggers from using the word “whisky” but they did prohibit a company from using the name “beer and whisky expo” to describe its beer and whisky event.

Whiskey Live-festivaali Kapkaupungissa
Image: Nic Bothma / EPA

The State Regional Administration Agency (Avi) says it did not try to ban the word “whisky”. That was the claim in a Helsingin Sanomat article published on Saturday, in which the organiser of a beer and whisky fair said he had been told his license depended on the absence of the word “whisky” from publicity around the event.

He had then sought to get the word removed from blog postings about the fair, but officials now say that was unnecessary.

“This was about the event’s marketing name, which had advertised strong spirits,” said the agency’s senior inspector Jarmo Oresmaa.

According to Orsemaa the agency had discussed the matter with organizer Mikki Nyland and informed him that the name contravened Finland’s alcohol legislation. In the agency’s view the name had to be changed from “Beer and whisky expo” to “Beer expo”.

Even after the name change, Oresmaa said he had received complaints from members of the public about the event’s website, which still contained references to whisky.

According to the organisers, Avi had then said that the event’s license might be revoked if google searches for whisky turned up links to the event. Helsingin Sanomat reported on Sunday that the head of Avi unit for southern Finland, Anneli Taina, would be seeking an explanation if they had indeed threatened organisers with license cancellation.

Oresmaa says his organisation had not been in contact with blog owners.

“The organiser himself got in touch with them and requested that the bloggers changed the event’s name,” said Oresmaa.

“People have freedom to write, and freedom of speech,” said Oresmaa. “They can write whatever they like. It’s not Avi’s job to interfere in that.”

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