Brexit was the major focus of discussion at the meeting in Edinburgh between the two associations who meet annually ahead of Scotland’s Six Nations International rugby match with Ireland.
This year the Scotch Whisky Association, led by Chief Executive Karen Betts, hosted a nine-strong visiting Irish delegation including representatives from Irish distilleries and from the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland which includes both the Irish Spirits Association and Irish Whiskey Association.
While Irish whiskey lags well behind Scotch when it comes to global sales, it’s growing much faster than Scotch (albeit from a smaller base). Last year, Irish whiskey grew global sales by over 10% compared to a Scotch global growth of 1.2%.
“This year’s annual bilateral takes place with the shadow of Brexit looming large,” commented ISA Chair Aoife Clarke (of Beam Suntory – owners of Cooley and Kilbeggan distilleries) before the meeting which discussed the prospects for future Irish-UK trade with particular focus on the issue of global trade for UK whiskies post-Brexit. The meeting also discussed the similar challenges set to face Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey distilleries in Northern Ireland post-Brexit.