Irish Spirits Association demands ongoing GI protectionBy Annie Hayes
The Irish Spirits Association (ISA) is calling on MEPs to protect all-Ireland geographic indications (GIs) for Irish whiskey, Irish cream liqueurs and poitín by backing its amendments to draft EU regulations.
The head of the Irish Spirits Association, William Lavelle, met with a number of Irish MEPs in Brussels earlier this week to discuss amendments to the proposed EU Spirits Regulation, which legally defines spirits and governs the labelling and GIs of those spirits.
Irish whiskey, Irish cream liqueurs and poitín are legally protected by GIs, meaning that they must be produced on the island of Ireland in line with approved production procedures.
“Our primary concern has been to ensure the ongoing protection of the three all-Ireland GIs for Irish whiskey, Irish cream liqueurs and Irish poitín,” said Lavelle.
“While we generally welcome the EU’s proposals to improve the current rules on the definition, protection and labelling of spirits, the Irish Spirits Association have been working with European partner organisations to assess the implications of the draft regulation.
“We are calling on MEPs to amend proposed new rules on place of manufacture to ensure that Irish whiskey, Irish cream liqueur and Irish poitín remain protected produce of Ireland.
“We are also asking MEPs to support the introduction of new enforcement provisions to prevent ‘fake GI’ spirits produced in non-EU state from being transited through the EU. These proposals could take on added significance in the light of Brexit.”
Ireland’s spirits sector supports the estimated employment of more than 15,000 people in manufacturing, distribution, hospitality, retailing,and farming.
The Irish whiskey category accounts for more than one third of Irish beverage exports, and is “well on-track” to meet its export target of 144 million bottles by 2020 and 288 million bottles by 2030.
Lavelle added: “Guaranteeing the quality and providence of these unique Irish products is critical to protecting investment in the Irish distilling industry as well as ensuring consumer confidence which in turn underpins growing global exports.”