Unlike many other industries, the drinks industry has a presence right across the country. In the Republic of Ireland, where the Bill would be implemented, there are now craft breweries in every county, operational or planned Irish whiskey distilleries in 22 counties and 14 operational or planned Irish gin distilleries. Furthermore, there are brewery or distillery visitor centres in 11 counties, with planned visitor centres being developed in another 11.
“Our distillery is based in deepest rural Ireland, on the edge of a lake in Drumshanbo, County Leitrim,” said Pat Rigney of the Shed Distillery which produces the world-renowned Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, “Since setting up in 2014, we’ve invested over €3 million in the area, have driven vital employment in the region and are now exporting our products to over 28 countries including the UK, France, Denmark, Switzerland, the US and beyond. We’re also currently investing €2m in our new visitor centre which will drive local tourism and job creation when it re-opens.
“We’re proud of the quality and excellence of our products, which compete successfully on the world stage.”
John Quinn, Global Brand Ambassador of Offaly’s Tullamore Dew, agreed: “We’re continuing to grow our brand and export around the world which is having a positive knock-on effect on Offaly where we’re based,” he stated, “So far, William Grant & Sons has invested over €100 million in Tullamore Dew, with a €25m investment last year. Additionally, we employ 120 people in Tullamore between the distillery, bottling hall and visitor centre and even more during the Summertime.
“However, we’re concerned about the potential negative impact of certain measures in the Alcohol Bill, particularly the requirement for cancer warning labels to be added to alcohol products.”
He pointed out, “The reputational damage to the category could be huge both in Ireland and importantly, in export markets, thereby undoing all the hard work of the past 40 years.
“If we put cancer warning labels on these products, we run the risk of compromising the quality message of our whiskeys and directing the tourists to other categories such as Scotch, Bourbon and other international spirits which would not feature such warnings. With such a loss of business we also run the risk of attracting less and less tourists to Tullamore and the midlands.”