Mark Reynier: Irish whiskey needs ‘direction’

10th July, 2018 by Melita Kiely

The CEO of Ireland’s Waterford Distillery has expressed his frustration at the “absence of any direction” for Irish whiskey regulations, meaning some distillers are “making it up as they go along”.

Mark-Reynier

Mark Reynier, founder and CEO of Waterford Distillery

Speaking to The Spirits Business last month, Mark Reynier, founder and CEO of Waterford Distillery, said he would like to see the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) take on a role more akin to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) in terms of how it regulates the category.

Reynier suggested a written set of rules and regulations detailing the “codes of practice for labels, leaflets and packaging” that everyone – even those producers who are not part of the IWA – must adhere to.

“Something like that is very much needed,” said Reynier. “If you think of the SWA as part regulator, part lobbyist, the IWA is neither one nor the other at the moment.

“It needs to provide some guidance, there’s nothing out there. People are making it up as they go along.

“Unless something’s done quickly to bring some rational into it, it’s going to be a lot harder further down the line to deal with it.

“It’s partly natural enthusiasm, partly ignorance, partly lack of leadership – a bit of all that and so no surprise that in the absence of any direction, people are making it up.”

Irish whiskey sales soared to 9.7 million nine-litre cases globally in 2017, up 10.6% on the previous year, according to IWSR data cited by the IWA. The category is expected to exceed the IWA’s target of 12m cases by 2020.

In June this year, a first-of-its-kind Irish whiskey fund was created to support producers in light of the category’s continued fast-paced growth.

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