According to Central Statistics Office figures the value of whiskey exports from the Irish Republic in the first three quarters of 2017 was up 14% to €412 million. The value of Irish Whiskey exports to the US and Canada increased by 15.8% and 21.5% respectively during this period.
During 2017 the Irish Whiskey Association organised five regional whiskey tourism launches to highlight the growth in working distilleries from four to 18 with another 16 having planning permission.
“We now have distilleries operating in every region of the country and a growing number of them are opening visitor centres,” said William Lavelle, head of the Irish Whiskey Association,“It’s expected that 1.9 million visitors will pass through the doors of these visitor centres in 2025 and this will deliver enormous investment into communities throughout the country.”
During the last year, a strategy has also been devised to develop branding and digital channels for an All-Island Irish Whiskey Tourism product which will be rolled out next year.
He added that the Whiskey Mentoring programme has shown that different companies can work together to advance the Irish Whiskey category while also protecting its world-class quality and high standards.
During 2017, the IWA continued its international protection work in this area with applications to register the Geographical Indicator being submitted in South Africa and India.
An application is also in progress to register a US certification mark and multiple suspected GI product infringements have been investigated in markets around the world.
Other highlights for the IWA in 2017 have been the work undertaken in cooperation with government departments and state agencies to develop an approach to the regulation of the labeling and marketing of Irish Whiskey.
“In 2017, the category made major strides at home and abroad,” he concluded, “By coordinating our efforts and maintaining the highest standards, we believe that 2018 can represent an even greater milestone year in restoring Irish Whiskey to its previous position at the summit of the global spirits industry.”
The IWA has also welcomed the news that the first Irish Whiskey produced in Connacht in 104 years came of age this week, the third anniversary of the first Irish Whiskey being distilled in The Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo, County Leitrim, when the first cask of The Shed’s Irish Whiskey was opened for a tasting yesterday.
“Here we see how the Irish Whiskey Renaissance is delivering jobs and inward investment into rural communities,” commented William Lavelle, speaking at the event.
The company will produce about 250,000 litres of Irish Whiskey annually once the distillery is in full operation.
Next year, The Shed will also be unveiling its new €1.5 million visitor centre which is expected to attract 10,000 visitors in its first year while boosting job numbers so that up to 25 people will be employed there.
“What The Shed Distillery has achieved is being replicated throughout Ireland, as new distilleries and visitor centres are delivering for communities, urban and rural, right across the country,” he added.
In also welcoming news that the first whiskey produced in Connacht in over a century has come of age the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland’s Director Patricia Callan pointed out that, “It’s imperative that the Government recognises the value of the sector and helps it to continue growing, as it faces issues such as Brexit, the second-highest excise rate in the EU, and the unintended consequences of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.“