He was addressing the European spirits industry’s annual showcase event in the EU capital, organised by spiritsEurope.
“The global growth of Irish whiskey has a long way to go yet,” he stated, “Future growth will be driven by premiumisation, including in non-traditional markets. The quid-pro-quo of premiumisation is authenticity. Discerning consumers demand authenticity. They demand uniqueness.
“Irish whiskey is proud to have a Geographic Indication.
“But we see our GI as being more than just something that exists in regulation and which must be protected. We see our GI as something to be celebrated and this is what Irish whiskey tourism has to offer.
“In recent months, our association has taken the fight to ‘fake distilleries’ with some success.
“By throwing open the doors of our distilleries, by showcasing our people, our places and our practices, we’re putting our authenticity and uniqueness on display; we are making our GI real.”
The Irish whiskey tourism offers range from the Jameson Experience in Dublin (the most visited spirits tourism attraction in Europe with over 350,000 visitors annually) to distilleries in places such as Dingle, Kilbeggan and Slane – bringing jobs, visitors and income to rural communities.
Many distilleries and brand homes have innovated and expanded their offerings, such as the increase in blending and cocktail classes along with the expansion in meet-the-maker, food-pairing and seasonal special events.
“As more distilleries and brand homes engage in exciting innovation, Irish whiskey is set to be a world leader in experiential tourism,” he added.
Last year saw 923,000 visitors to 13 Irish whiskey distilleries and brand homes. This compares to nearly 2 million visitors to Scotch distilleries and 1.6 million to French spirits producers.
“Just as we aim to grow sales of Irish whiskey, we also aim to grow our annual visitor number,” he said, “We recently launched IrishWhiskey360°, a new brand and campaign to promote and develop Irish whiskey tourism and to increase visitors to Irish whiskey distilleries.”