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Drinks Ireland urges locals to visit whiskey distilleries

Trade body Drinks Ireland has launched a new campaign to encourage local consumers to visit Irish whiskey distilleries as they reopen.

The Jameson Midleton Distillery in Country Cork reopened in July

The Get Back into the Spirit campaign aims to promote Irish whiskey tourism. With travel restrictions in place across the world, Drinks Ireland said local visitors will be “critical” to safeguarding the future viability of the Irish whiskey sector.

Distilleries across Ireland closed in March in order to protect both visitors and staff from the spread of Covid-19. As lockdown measures ease across the country this month, a number of sites have reopened with new guidelines to ensure physical distancing measures.

William Lavelle, head of Drinks Ireland, said: “Irish whiskey distilleries attracted over one million visitors last year, but 87% of visitors were from overseas, making Irish whiskey distilleries one of the most exposed sectors impacted by the international travel collapse.

“This year, distilleries have obviously experienced a very sharp decline in visitor numbers, in particular visitors from overseas. Thankfully, the distilleries that have reopened to date are reporting a slow but steadily growing stream of domestic tourists and local visitors.

“While increased domestic tourism cannot fully make-up for the fall in visitor numbers from overseas, getting more Irish people through the doors of distilleries over the coming months will be critical to ensuring their future viability.

“So we’re hoping domestic tourists will support the industry, and use this summer as an opportunity to discover the hidden whiskey gems that are on their doorstep.”

Lavelle said that distilleries have reopened with smaller tours and new experiences in the wake of Covid-19.

“Smaller tour sizes, private tastings, new cocktail and food pairings, and collaborations with local businesses are just some of the ways our members are adapting their offerings as they reopen,” said Lavelle. “Safety is obviously a key focus for all our visitor centres – they have reduced their tour sizes and introduced all the necessary requirements to ensure social distancing can be adhered to.

“Irish whiskey visitor centres are not just for whiskey fans – they offer a cultural and historical experience, where visitors can learn about how whiskey is made, the history of the local area, taste whiskey and sample local cuisine.

“Whether you’re a couple looking for a fun date experience, or a group of friends looking to catch up after a difficult few months, we would urge people to get back into the spirit of discovery and friendship, and support local brands, by including an Irish whiskey visitor centre in their summer plans.”

Some of the sites that have already reopened include Clonakilty Distillery, Kilbeggan Distillery, Roe & Co Distillery, Tullamore Dew Distillery, Powerscourt Distillery, Pearse Lyons Distillery, Jameson Bow Street, Midleton Distillery and Teeling Whiskey Distillery.

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