Ireland is benefiting from a resurgence in the popularity of whiskey with 32 new or proposed whiskey distilleries planned.
Welcoming the opening of the Connacht Whiskey Company, the Irish Whiskey Association said there were four distilleries operating in Ireland two years ago. There are now 32 new or proposed distilleries in the pipeline.
Earlier this month, it was confirmed that the co-op on Cape Clear has lodged a planning application for a €7m distillery and visitor centre, and it hopes to start construction sometime next year. It is hoped the distillery will create 15 jobs and increase tourism-related jobs on the island as a spin-off.
The Irish Whiskey Association now predicts employment in the sector to increase 30% by 2025 from 5,000 to 6,500. It also predicts whiskey tourism to increase from 600,000 a year to 800,000 in the medium term.
Annual exports of whiskey are now worth more than €300m — up 220% since 2003. Exports are set to double by 2020 and to double again by 2030.
The EU (43%) and US (45.5%) markets dominate for exports of Irish whiskey. Within the EU, Latvia (10%) is the largest export destination. This is due to the fact that it serves as a re-sale destination for Russia and the Baltic countries. It is followed by Germany (7.4%), France (6.4%) and Britain (4.9%).
Between 2010 and 2025, the Irish Whiskey Association expects around €1.1bn in investment into the sector with production to rise by around 41% head of the Irish Whiskey Association Miriam Mooney said a drink which has been distilled in Ireland since the sixth century is now the fastest growing spirit in the world.
“The existing players have driven the global renaissance in Irish whiskey and now it is the fastest-growing spirits category in the world. Irish whiskey has carved out its own niche in the global spirits market, relying on the traditional craft of Irish distilling and authentic heritage, underpinned by high-quality whiskey with a distinctive taste and broad appeal,” she said.
Ms Mooney said when compared with Scotland, which has over 130 distilleries, the potential for Ireland in rural areas is huge.
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