Drinks Ireland|Spirits and Scotch Whisky Association tackle Brexit at annual industry meeting

Friday, 31 January 2020

Drinks Ireland|Spirits and Scotch Whisky Association tackle Brexit at annual industry meeting

Irish Spirits and Scotch Whisky – new league table released ahead of Six Nations match

31st January 2020 - On the day of Brexit and ahead of the Six Nations match between Ireland and Scotland tomorrow, Drinks Ireland|Spirits host the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) in Dublin for their annual bilateral meeting.

With Britain officially leaving the EU at 11pm, the meeting was dominated by the challenges and opportunities faced by industries in both countries.

Brexit offers opportunities for Irish industry, as Irish whiskey will now be the EU’s largest whiskey category, with the potential to grow in both new and established markets in the EU and in third countries that have trade deals with the EU.

Both industries, however, will continue to face mutual challenges on which cooperation will be key. For example, the US has imposed tariffs on Scotch whisky, on single malt Irish whiskey produced in Northern Ireland, as well as on Irish Cream and other Irish liqueurs.

Given increased trade disruption, both organisations have agreed to greater cooperation to bolster more open trade for Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey and Irish spirits around the world.

To coincide with the meeting, Drinks Ireland|Spirits has released an industry league table, highlighting the difference between the two industries in terms of relative size.

Irish GI spirits[[1] Irish whiskey, Irish Cream liqueur and Poitín1] / Scottish GI spirits[[2] Scotch whisky2] industry league table
Ireland Scotland
Number of distilleries 31 133
Visitor centre numbers 1 million 2 million
Export value[3] €1.01 billion £4.7 billion
Estimated number of bottles
sold around the world a year 222 million 1.28 billion

Pat Rigney, Chair of Drinks Ireland|Spirits and Managing Director of The Shed Distillery in Co. Leitrim, said:

“While Scotch whisky is much more established and still dominates in the global market, the sale of Irish spirits products is growing faster than their various rivals, with Irish whiskey in particular retaining its place as the fastest growing premium spirit category in the world.

“While both industries compete against one another in many markets, Brexit and global trade uncertainties and disruptions mean that we also must work together, to do what we can to encourage more open trade agreements.”