Aoife Clarke (pictured) has been appointed chair of the Irish Spirits Association (ISA), where she will become the first female chair in its 20-year history.
Clarke previously held the role of vice-chair at the ISA and takes over from John Harte of the Donohoe Drink Company.
Clarke has experience working in the drinks industry and in public affairs, both in Ireland and internationally. She has been the senior director of international public affairs at Beam Suntory, which owns Cooley Distillery, for over four years. Prior to this, she was a senior executive at the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) for over five years.
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Pat Rigney of the Shed Distillery, the makers of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, has been appointed vice-chair of the ISA.
Speaking about her appointment, Clarke said, “The Irish spirits industry is at an important point in time. The sector is undergoing vibrant growth, and exports have increased substantially in recent years. Global sales of Ireland’s GI spirits – Irish whiskey, Irish cream and poitín – totalled nearly 16 million cases, or 200 million bottles, in 2016.
“There are huge opportunities ahead, especially for Ireland’s GI spirits. Irish whiskey is going from strength to strength and is now the fastest-growing spirits category in the world. Irish cream liqueur is emerging from a lost decade, with sales on the rise again,” she concluded.