Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has introduced new regulations that ensure that spirits made outside of the country cannot be labeled as “Irish.”
Irish whiskey, Irish poitín and Irish cream are protected ‘geographical indications’ under European Law, meaning the spirits must be produced in Ireland in accordance with strict technical specifications. Under the new rules, the designations cannot be used on products manufactured elsewhere in the European Union, TheJournal.ie reports.
Coveney said this means “inferior products or those that do not share the uniquely Irish heritage of these protected geographical indications cannot be sold as Irish Whiskey, Irish Poitín or Irish Cream.”
“[The regulations] 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, of the quality of the unique spirit products they are consuming.”
He said the new regulations are particularly important as the Irish Spirit Drinks sector implements “ambitious plans to establish a number of new distilleries to meet the growing demand worldwide.”
Irish whiskey exports have grown by nearly 200% in the last decade. Close to seven million cases of Irish whiskey were exported to over 100 countries last year.
Miriam Mooney, head of the Irish Whiskey Association and Irish Spirits Association, was in favor of the legislation.
“The intellectual property rights afforded by the geographic indication status is only as strong as the enforcement which is applied. We are continuing to develop a comprehensive policing strategy to address GI infringements,” she said.
Mooney added that both associations are “now resourced to monitor global markets which will act as an early-warning alert.”