Cider-makers here do not benefit from the improved microbrewers’ tax relief announced in the recent Budget which raised the amount for qualifying tax relief from 20,000 to 30,000 hectolitres per year.
The association wrote to the Minister for Justice pointing out that there’s no mention of cider in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2000 Section 26 – Sale of Beer in Restaurants under Wine ‘On’ Licence.
“Is it accepted therefore that cider is a wine?” it asked, “An apple wine? A product made from fermented fruit juice?
“So can wine shops and restaurants with the relevant wine ‘on’/‘off’ licence also sell a domestically-produced, low-alcohol alternative to an imported, higher-alcohol product?
“If cider is accepted as a wine, we would ask that Section 26 as above be amended to include cider:
‘…the sale of beer and cider under a wine ‘on’ licence….’
“However, if cider is not accepted as a wine, we would claim that a domestically-produced product is being penalised in favour of an imported one. We can’t grow grapes but we can grow apples and we do it well. Wine shops around the country should also be allowed to support domestically-produced, job-supporting, apple wine (cider) makers by selling their (lower-alcohol) produce alongside the imported grape wine at no further cost.”
Cider Ireland received the response from the Private Secretary to the Minister for Justice, Christopher Quattrociocchi, following its initial submission querying cider’s place in liquor legislation.
“The Government Legislation Programme provides for publication of a Sale of Alcohol Bill in mid-2015 which will update the law relating to the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol in licensed premises, including restaurants, and registered clubs,” wrote the Private Secretary, “The Bill will repeal the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2011 as well as the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2008 and replace them with streamlined and updated provisions. The Minister will review the issue raised in your correspondence in this context,” he promised.
The development was welcomed by the Cider Ireland organisation whose Founder and Chairperson Emma Tyrrell commented, “Obviously we’re delighted that excise was left alone in the recent budget, however it’s frustrating that we’re not able to benefit from the relief offered to the microbreweries”.
Cider-making is an emerging industry and seeks some Government support, states Cider Ireland which was set up in mid-2012 when membership was offered to all craft cider makers on the island of Ireland before the group was formalised in mid-2013.
In order to be a member of Cider Ireland, cider makers – among other criteria – must use only 100% Irish-grown apples when making cider.
There are now 15 producers signed up to Cider Ireland’s charter.
The number of full-time jobs in the Irish craft cider industry has doubled here since 2012 and is set to double again by 2016, claims Cider Ireland which stated recently, “It’s important to note that making cider made from pressed juice of 100% Irish-grown apples is thereby directly supporting further jobs in the agricultural industry and contributing in a very positive manner to the current economical improvements.
“It must also be stated that the jobs supported and created, both directly and indirectly, are for the most part in rural areas and smaller towns around the country”