A drinks industry group wants funding from both sides of the border to finance small whiskey producers’ international growth.
The Ibec-affiliated Drinks Ireland-Irish Whiskey Association has said that, with visitor centres closed, and sales channels – like bars, hotels and restaurants – shut, 2020 will prove very different to 2019 when global sales of Irish whiskey doubled and record numbers visited distilleries.
The group wants the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to jointly cover up to 70% of the funding needed for smaller producers to promote their brands in key international markets for at least 12 months.
“Supporting Irish exporters to reboot their brands and regain market position should be a key priority for government,” said Irish Whiskey Association boss William Lavelle.
“This crisis has knocked back sales growth. Orders have been cancelled and, in some cases, companies have been called on to take back stock. The challenges are particularly stark for many smaller and new-entrant companies,” he said.
Mr Lavelle said the industry aims to win back the lost sales through plans to promote Irish whiskey in key markets like North America and repositioning the product in whatever new version of the hospitality sector emerges after lockdown.