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Dublin: 15 °C Thursday 22 August, 2019
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Irish whiskey will always have to be made in Ireland

In the last decade, Irish whiskey exports grew by almost 200%.

Image: Shutterstock

NEW REGULATIONS HAVE been introduced by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to protect companies that make Irish spirits.

Irish whiskey, Irish poitín and Irish cream are protected ‘geographical indications’ under European Law. This means they must be produced on the island of Ireland in accordance with strict technical specifications.

Under the new rules, the designations cannot be used on products manufactured elsewhere in the European Union. The regulations also apply to a range of other protected spirit drinks manufactured within the EU.

Coveney said this means “inferior products or those that do not share the uniquely Irish heritage of these protected geographical indications cannot be sold as Irish Whiskey, Irish Poitín or Irish Cream”.

[The regulations] can help to protect the reputation and integrity of these products, but also to protect Irish jobs. From a consumer perspective, they will also give assurance to customers, at home and abroad, of the quality of the unique spirit products they are consuming.

Coveney said the new rules are particularly important as the Irish Spirit Drinks sector implements “ambitious plans to establish a number of new distilleries to meet the growing demand worldwide”.

In the last decade, Irish whiskey exports grew by almost 200% and the sector employs over 750 people.

In 2014, close to seven million cases of Irish whiskey were exported to over 100 countries. Exports are set to exceed 12 million cases by 2020 and 24 million cases by 2030.

Three years ago, the island of Ireland had four distilleries in operation. Coveney said that in the next three years that number could grow to over 20.

Policing 

Miriam Mooney, head of the Irish Whiskey Association and Irish Spirits Association, welcomed the news.

Both organisations have been working with the department for a number of years to ensure these protections were put in place.

“The intellectual property rights afforded by the geographic indication status is only as strong as the enforcement which is applied. We are continuing to develop a comprehensive policing strategy to address GI infringements,” Mooney said.

She added that both associations are “now resourced to monitor global markets which will act as an early-warning alert”.

Originally published: 6.03am

Read: How Irish whiskey has been brought back from ‘near extinction’

Read: A century ago Irish whiskey dominated the world – so what happened?

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Órla Ryan

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