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Campaign launched to combat fake Irish whiskey

The Irish Whiskey Association and Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture have launched a new campaign to combat the sale of counterfeit Irish whiskey in international markets.

Minister Creed (centre) and Bernard Walsh (right), chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association, have launched the ‘Protect Irish Whiskey campaign’

As part of a collaboration between the trade body and Minister Michael Creed, The ‘Protect Irish Whiskey’ campaign aims to address the sale of products that are wrongly advertised, packaged, displayed or named in a way that makes them appear to be Irish whiskey.

The campaign highlights laws that claim Irish whiskey must be distilled and matured in wooden casks on Ireland for at least three years. It appeals to whiskey producers, distributors and consumers to inform the Irish Whiskey Association of any misleading products.

“While we have achieved Geographical Indication status for Irish whiskey, which is significant in terms of protecting the integrity of category, we must not rest on our laurels,” said Bernard Walsh, chairman of the IWA and founder of Walsh Whiskey Distillery.

“As Irish Whiskey continues to perform well, we are likely to be challenged considerably more in terms of misleading products, which is why this enforcement campaign is important.

“We very much welcome the Minister for Agriculture and the department’s support in ensuring the category reaches its full potential.”

Things to look out for

The IWA has highlighted a number of ways that consumers may be led to believe a product is Irish whiskey, including: the use of names or devices associated with Ireland, such as shamrocks and Irish surnames; products made overseas containing Irish whiskey but marketed as Irish whiskey; products called Irish whiskey when they do not meet the specific production requirements; use of descriptions such as ‘Irish Style Whiskey’; misleading packing and advertising material, misleading age claims; products displayed among Irish whiskeys.

“The growing popularity and reputation of Irish Whiskey may encourage some individuals to seek to take unfair advantage of it,” said Minister Creed. “The ‘Protect Irish Whiskey Campaign’ aims to ensure the integrity of the category is maintained and will ensure that the category maximises its potential.

“The Irish Whiskey Association cannot visit every market worldwide and accordingly we rely on data and information from others to alert us to instances of misleading labelling, imitation or unfair competition so that action can be taken.”

Those who notice misleading products are asked to report them to Carleen Madigan at the Irish Whiskey Association or email, stating the name of the brand, the wording on its label, companies identified on the label, name and address of outlet where it’s being sold, and photographs of the display.

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