The Irish Spirits Association (ISA) is predicting that whiskey exports will double by the year 2020, with over 10 new distilleries opening along the way.
According to a statement released by the ISA, marking a special meeting with the Scotch Whiskey Association over the weekend, Ireland currently exports 6.2 million nine-litre cases of Irish whiskey to more than 100 markets.
But the wave of new distilleries receiving planning permission in the country is expected to double exports to over 12 million cases by 2020.
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Speaking ahead of the meeting which was organized to coincide with the international rugby match between the two nations, Peter Morehead, Director of Production at Irish Distillers and Chairman of the Irish Spirits Association said that there is a plethora of lessons that the Irish whiskey industry can learn from the Scottish experience:
“Irish spirits companies contribute over €1 billion to the Exchequer every year, supporting the employment of 14,700 people across production and sales. However, when we compare the whiskey industry to that of Scotch whisky, it becomes clear that there is a space for huge potential growth in the sector," he said.
Exports of Scotch whiskey are valued to be worth £3 billion to the Exchequer, and the industry supports 35,000 jobs through 108 distilleries.
"Currently, the USA is the top destination for Irish whiskey, followed by the UK, but emerging markets such as Russia and China present significant opportunity for future export driven growth in the sector. I would like to take this opportunity to urge the Government to do everything in its power support the industry so it can continue to build on current success, identify new markets for products and find innovative product solutions, which will in turn help to foster further economic recovery in Ireland and fill what is undoubtedly a space for huge growth in the sector,” said Morehead.
The ISA recognises four operating distilleries currently producing Irish whiskey – Midleton (Pernod Ricard), Cooley (Beam), Kilbeggan (Beam), and Bushmill’s (Diageo), although Dingle Distillery (Cork), Alltech Craft Distillery (Carlow) and Echlinville Distillery (Ards Peninsula in Northern Ireland) are all producing liquid that is not yet old enough for sale as whiskey.
© 2014 - Hospitality Ireland Magazine Enda Dowling