But Irish gin producers hope to treble this sales figure by 2022 and aim to sell five million bottles or 400,000 nine-litre cases globally, according to the Irish Spirits Association.
The ISA created an Irish Gin Working Group to create a strategy for further growth and the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Andrew Doyle launched this new strategy document at an event today in Temple Bar Gallery+Studios.
The Strategy for Irish Gin 2018-2022 aims to promote the worldwide growth of Irish gin over the next five years by developing world-leading standards for quality and authenticity.
The strategy identifies the main target markets for Irish gin and while Ireland will remain the most important market, Irish gin producers have also identified the UK, Spain, Germany, the US and Canada as priority export markets.
The strategy also sets out four key goals and a number of actions to deliver on the vision and growth targets for Irish gin.
Firstly, the industry wants to develop world-leading standards for Irish gin. That involves creating an Irish Gin Standard for quality and authenticity to be enforced on a national and international level. The Association will also work with producers to develop and promote a recognised gold standard logo for Irish distilled gin.
Secondly, producers will also promote Irish gin worldwide, starting with the five key target markets and will involve working with state organisations to promote Irish gin in trade missions, promotional campaigns, trade fairs and events in these markets. Recently the ISA took part in a successful Government-led trade mission to Canada where it promoted Irish gin.
Thirdly, the industry aims to help sustain a vibrant home market for gin. As part of this it will work to avoid unnecessary over-regulation. Gin producers have identified the labelling proposals in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill as a key area of concern.
Finally, the industry will support the viability of Irish gin producers. This involves working with state agencies to support the growth of these companies as well as development into new areas such as, for example, the creation of visitor centres.
“The Irish gin industry is ambitious and our ambitions are increasingly global,” stated the Chair of the ISA’s Irish Gin Working Group Pat Rigney, Founder of The Shed Distillery in County Leitrim, “As sales begin to increase at home and abroad we want to ensure that we can take advantage of this positive growth trajectory by developing world-leading, consumer-focused standards, building on Ireland’s reputation for great food and drink.
“Export-growth is vital and we’ve identified five priority international markets that we wish to target for growth with the support of Government and statutory partners. Export-growth will support job creation through Ireland and help deliver on the Government’s FoodWise 2025 targets.
“But we’re very concerned about some of the unintended negative implications of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. We’re calling for reasonable amendments to the Bill, to ensure that Irish gin bottles do not have to carry an extremist health warning taking up one third of the label on what are normally the most attractively-designed spirits bottles.
“We also believe that the labelling requirements in the Bill could deter imports of gin, hamper innovation and growth among Irish gin producers and create a situation in which there is regulatory misalignment between the North and South.”
His sentiments were echoed by Brian Fagan, Founder and Director of Glendalough Distillery in County Wicklow. “It’s our hope that by implementing the highest possible standards, continuing to innovate and working together to promote the category on a global scale, Irish Gin will gain an international reputation equal to that of Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream Liqueur.
“Given that Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin is now selling well from Tokyo to Toronto – and 40 markets in between – we’re extremely confident in the outlook for the Irish Gin category in the years to come.”
Peter Mulryan, Director of Blackwater Distillery in County Waterford explained, “We’ve seen that consumers in the home market and in export markets really respond well to the quality and authenticity we offer through our products. As we continue to grow as an industry, it’s vital that we maintain these key points of differentiation. The proposal for an Irish Gin Standard is key to this”.
The industry launched the new strategy document ahead of the Gin Experience Dublin, which takes place in Dublin Castle, today and tomorrow.