Irish cream liqueur and gin producers embark on trade mission to Canada following elimination of tariffs

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

  • Canada is one of the top five target markets for future export growth of Irish gin
  • Growth of Irish whiskey already strong in Canada with the value of exports increasing by 20.5 per cent in first 10 months of 2017
Irish cream liqueur and Irish gin producers are taking part in a trade mission to Ontario, Canada, today and tomorrow, with the aim of increasing Ireland-Canada trade. The trade mission follows the recent Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, which has resulted in tariff-elimination for both cream liqueur and gin and has removed a number for 'behind the border' trade restrictions, that previously acted as barriers to market access.

In April, the Irish Spirits Association (ISA) will publish the first-ever Irish Gin Strategy which will identify Canada as one of the top five target markets for future export growth.

The CETA agreement contains protection for EU-recognised geographic indications (GIs). Irish whiskey and Irish cream liqueur are protected at an EU level in a similar manner to Champagne in France or Parma hams in Italy. This means that these Geographic Indicator (or GI) spirits must be produced on the island of Ireland, in accordance with certain production practices and standards (a technical file).

The ISA will also be using the visit to Toronto to publicise the Love Irish Cream Liqueur campaign which aims to protect and promote the Irish Cream Liqueur GI. The Association will be highlighting concerns over alleged infringements in terms of the required production practices and standards (the GI) by cream liqueur products on sale in some areas of Canada.

A number of Irish whiskey producers will also be represented as part of the trade mission. Canada already represents one of Irish whiskey’s fastest growing export markets. CSO figures for the first 10 months of 2017 show that the value of exports to Canada increased by 20.5 per cent. However, only 6 per cent of Irish whiskey currently on sale in Canada is from premium brands. This means there is a significant opportunity for Irish whiskey producers to grow the sale of premium brands in Canada, building on phenomenal triple digit sales increases in premium Irish whiskey in other major markets in recent years.

The Irish Spirits Association is joining a broader trade mission led by Michael Creed TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, in association with Bord Bia.

William Lavelle, Head of the Irish Spirits & Whiskey Associations, is taking part in the trade mission. He said:

“The CETA deal has eliminated tariffs and opened up new opportunities for Ireland’s spirits industry in Canada, which has a large Irish diaspora population.

“Irish cream liqueur and Irish gin producers have identified Canada as key target markets for future export growth.

“Irish whiskey is already seeing double-digit export growth to Canada. We see the potential for premium, authentic Irish whiskey brands to prosper in the Canadian market. Irish whiskey remains the fastest growing spirits category in the world. The Irish whiskey industry has a global ambition of driving further growth in more markets and Canada is a key target."


Media queries to Colin Taylor, Q4PR on 0864671748 or

Details of events taking place as part of the trade mission:
On 28th February, the Irish Spirits Association is joining an Irish spirits expo, which is taking place as part of a trade mission led by Michael Creed TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, in association with Bord Bia. The aim of the trade mission is to promote Irish food and drinks products in the country. Carolans and Terra will be among the visiting Irish cream liqueur companies, while Blackwater, Glendalough and Listoke gins will also be represented from the Irish gin side.

On 27th February, prior to the start of the official trade mission, a delegation from the Irish Spirits Association the Irish Whiskey Association, led by William Lavelle, Head of the Associations, will hold a bilateral meeting with a delegation from Spirits Canada, led by President Jan Westcott. The delegation will also include representative from Walsh Whiskey Distillery, Chapelgate Whiskey and Listoke Gin Distillery.

Seventeen Irish whiskey companies will either participate in the trade mission, or be represented at the showcase drinks event, organised in conjunction with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). The expo, which will also include Irish Cream Liqueur and Irish Gin, will take place at the Irish Embassy Pub and Grill, 49 Yonge St.

Details of the tariff reductions:
The tariff on gin reduced from 4.92 cents/litre to zero while the tariff of liqueurs reduced from 12.28 cents/litre to zero.