The Irish Whiskey Association was launched this morning amid a raft of positive news for the future of the industry. At the launch, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney announced that the Irish Whiskey sector is set to invest over €1 billion in Ireland in the next 10 years in a bid to catch up with Scotland's performance in the sector.
Scotch whisky represents an astonishing 25% of the UK's food and drink exports, but Irish Whiskey is the fastest growing drinks category in the world. The plan is to double exports of Irish Whiskey from its current 6.2-million cases by 2020 (and double again by 2030), aided by the remarkable growth in new distilleries on the island of Ireland in the last couple of years. Brands as established as Tullamore DEW and the Irishman were represented alongside new up-and-coming craft spirits like Glendalough at the launch, with a direct focus shared by all that sectoral growth would benefit everyone involved.
Commenting on the new association, Peter Morehead, chairman of the new association and production director at Irish Distillers, said: "There has been sustained growth in Irish Whiskey over the last 20 years, with the category experiencing double-digit growth since the turn of the millennium and the trend set to continue. Three years ago, the island of Ireland had four distilleries in operation – in the next three to five years that number will grow to over fifteen if all the current projects move forward. Last year, our companies exported 6.2 million 9-litre cases worldwide; we expect that number to double to 12 million cases by 2020 and double again to 24 million cases by 2030. With this growth comes the need for leadership in ensuring the category maximises its potential and continues to maintain the high quality standards that consumers all around the world have come to expect from their Irish Whiskey."
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The new all-island association will promote the Irish Whiskey category in Ireland and internationally, working with Government agencies (North and South) and the European Commission. It will support new market entrants, ensure legal protection for Irish Whiskey's 'Geographic Indication'.
At the launch, the Irish Whiskey Association released statistics about the growing sector:· Irish whiskey exports have grown by 220% since 2003 and are now valued at €350m· In 2003, Irish whiskey made up just over 9% of beverages exports, which has grown to over 28% of total beverages exports from Ireland.· Export number to double to 12 million cases by 2020 and double again to 24 million cases by 2030.· Irish whiskey employs 5,000 directly and indirectly, set to grow to 6,500 by 2025· Turnover for the industry is almost €400m, with an annual direct domestic spend of €237m· Irish whiskey visitor centres attract over 500,000 tourists every year· Irish whiskey sells into 77 countries, with USA, France, Germany, Russia and the UK accounting for almost 75% of total sales.