Connacht Whiskey Launch Night

THE Minister for Agriculture and Food, Simon Coveney, has launched the Irish Whiskey Association’s ‘Vision for Irish Whiskey’ at an event in the Old Jameson Distillery, Smithfield, Dublin.

The document sets out the industry’s ambition for the future and outlines a strategy to ensure continued growth in the sector.

There are 26 new or proposed distilleries across Ireland and annual exports of Irish whiskey are now valued at over €300 million, up 220% since 2003.

Among those at the launch were The Connacht Whiskey Company, which is setting up in Ballina at the old Duffy’s Bakery site in Belleek.

The Irish whiskey strategy document is based on a comprehensive survey of the sector and outlines the sector’s ambitions, which include: to grow global market share by 300% by 2030 from 4% to 12%; to grow exports from 6.5m nine-litre cases to 12m nine-litre cases by 2020; to double exports again to 24m nine-litre cases by 2030; to grow whiskey tourism from 600,000 visitors to 800,000 in the medium term; to increase employment by 30% from 5,000 direct and indirect jobs to 6,500 by 2025; to invest over €1bn between 2010 and 2025; and to increase production by 41% over the same period.

In order to meet the ambitious targets, the Vision for Irish Whiskey outlines five key pillars that will support sustainable growth. They are: adequately resourced infrastructure, including financial support for new entrants and adequate malting capacity; category integrity and promotion, including clear guidelines on the production of Irish whiskey and the promotion of geographic indication (GI) status; sustainable supply and demand, incorporating additional capacity to support market growth; an all-island approach to tourism, including the Irish whiskey trail; and a strong home market, creating a sense of pride in the industry at home and abroad.

At the document launch Minister Coveney said: “Growth of almost 200% over a decade reflects an industry with ambition, a sense of mission, and a deep understanding of individual markets. Irish whiskey brands now represent the fastest growing spirit globally and with investment of €1 billion planned over a 10-year period, the product and those who champion it will be well placed to generate growth, exports and jobs, and a very special tourist offering celebrating an all-island heritage.”

Bernard Walsh, founder of Walsh Whiskey Distillery and chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association, said: “The potential is massive. If we look at our neighbours in Scotland, we see the world-leading Scotch industry exporting over 90 million nine-litre cases annually. There are over 130 Scottish distilleries that bring investment and employment into rural areas. There is no reason why Ireland cannot achieve similar success.

“We look forward to working with Minister Coveney and other relevant stakeholders going forward to ensure Irish whiskey stays on track to become a true success story for brand Ireland.”