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Irish whiskey's vision for growth announced

Minister Coveney launched the Irish Whiskey Association’s Vision for Irish Whiskey at an event on May 12th in the Old Jameson Distillery, Smithfield. The document set 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 €300m, up 220% since 2003.

The Irish Whiskey Strategy document is based on a comprehensive survey of the sector and outlines the sectors ambitions:

  • To grow global market share by 300% by 2030: from 4% to 12%
  • To grow exports from 6.5m 9-litre cases to 12m 9-litre cases by 2020
  • To double exports again to 24m 9-litre cases by 2030
  • Grow whiskey tourism from 600,000 visitors to 800,000 in the medium term
  • Increase employment by 30%, from 5000 direct and indirect jobs to 6500 by 2025
  • Invest over €1bn between 2010 and 2025
  • Increase production by 41% over the same period

In order to meet ambitious growth prospects the Vision for Irish Whiskey outlines five key pillars that will support sustainable growth:

  1. Adequately resourced infrastructure: including financial support for new entrants and adequate malting capacity
  2. Category integrity and promotion: including clear guidelines on the production of Irish whiskey and the promotion of geographic indication (GI) status
  3. Sustainable supply and demand: additional capacity to support market growth
  4. Vibrant tourism offering: an all-island approach to tourism, including the Irish whiskey trail
  5. Strong home market: creating a sense of pride in the industry at home and abroad

Minister Coveney says: “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 €1billion planned over a ten year period. Irish whiskey 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.

“I very much welcome the publication of the Vision for Irish Whiskey today. While unprecedented opportunities exist for growth and expansion in the Irish whiskey sector, scale is always a challenge, so a shared vision is a powerful thing. It is good to see this sector encouraging and mentoring new entrants, funding global brand ambassadors and committing to sustainable growth.”

Bernard Walsh, founder of Walsh Whiskey Distillery and chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association says: “The Irish whiskey sector is ambitious for its future. The existing players have driven the global renaissance in Irish whiskey with double-digit growth prospects. The key to our success is to ensure that this growth is sustainable: economically and environmentally. To do this, we are launching a cohesive strategy today that will underpin this growth.

"The potential is massive. If we look at our neighbours in Scotland, we see the world-leading Scotch industry exporting over 90 million 9-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.”

12 May 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor