Irish whiskey given stronger legal protectionBy Melita Kiely
New regulations have been introduced in Ireland to strengthen the legal protection for Irish whiskey, Irish poitin and Irish cream.
Ireland’s minister for agriculture, food and marine Simon Coveney announced the new rules on Monday, designed to “protect the integrity” of Irish-made spirits.
They mean any product labelled as Irish whiskey, Irish poitin or Irish cream liqueur must be produced wholly in Ireland in accordance with specifications registered with the European Union.
“These regulations provide critically important protection for Irish companies in the developing Irish spirit drinks sector, which has ambitious plans to establish a number of new distilleries to meet the growing demand worldwide,” said Coveney.
The three spirits were given GI protection under EU Regulations 110/2008.
In order to ensure these products were being produced to the traditional specification all EU member states were required to submit detailed technical files by 20 February 2015 and agree to conduct verification checks annually.
The Irish technical file for Irish whiskey was submitted to the EU Commission on 20 October last year fand 20 February 2015 for Irish poitin and Irish cream.
The new rules will take effect from 30 October 2015, in order to give producers ample time to apply for verification.
“These regulations mean that inferior products or those that do not share the uniquely Irish heritage of these protected geographical indications cannot be sold as Irish whiskey, Irish poitin or Irish cream,” added Coveney. “They can help to protect the reputation and integrity of these products, but also to protect Irish jobs.
“From a consumer perspective, they will also give assurance to customers, at home and abroad, or the quality of the unique spirit products they are consuming.
“In the last decade, Irish whiskey exports grew by almost 200% and the sector employs over 750 people.
“In 2014, close to seven million cases of Irish whiskey were exported to over 100 countries.
“Exports are set to exceed 12 million cases by 2020 and 24 million cases by 2030. I am confident that this success can be replicated in other spirit drinks products.”