Irish Spirits Association calls for ongoing protecion of All-Island Geographic Indications

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

    • Spirts sector supports over 15,000 jobs on the island of Ireland, directly and indirectly
    • Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream Liquor and Irish Poteen/Irish Poitín are legally protected by EU Geographic Indications (GIs): they must be produced on the island of Ireland in line with approved rules
    • ISA asks MEPs to support amendments that would ensure the ongoing protection of all three GIs under new Spirits Regulation
Tuesday July 11th - William Lavelle, Head of the Irish Spirits Association, today met with a number of Irish MEPs in relation to the Irish Spirits Association’s call for amendments to a proposed new EU Spirits Regulation. Speaking in Brussels, Mr. Lavelle said: “Our primary concern has been to ensure the ongoing protection of the three all-Ireland GIs for Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream Liquor and Irish Poteen/Irish Poitín.”

EU Geographic Indications (GIs) are intellectual property rights used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess the qualities, reputation or other characteristics that are attributable to that geographic origin. All three spirit categories are legally protected by GIs meaning that they must be produced on the island of Ireland in line with approved technical files. Lavelle added: “Guaranteeing the quality and providence of these unique Irish products is critical to protecting investment in the Irish distilling industry as well as ensuring consumer confidence which in turn underpins growing global exports.”

The spirts sector on the island of Ireland supports the estimated employment of over 15,000 people in manufacturing, distribution, hospitality and retailing, as well as many farming families through the purchase of raw materials. Irish Whiskey, for example, is experiencing exceptional growth around the world with demand having increased by 11.2% in 2016, cementing its position as the world’s fastest growing spirit according to figures recently published by International Wine and Spirits Research. Irish Whiskey accounts for more than one-third of Irish beverage exports and Irish Whiskey is well on track to meet its ambitious export target of 144 million bottles by 2020 and 288 million bottles by 2030.
Mr. Lavelle explained: "While we generally welcome the EU’s proposals to improve the current rules on the definition, protection and labelling of spirits, the Irish Spirits Association have been working with European partner organisations to assess the implications of the draft Regulation. We are calling on MEPs to amend proposed new rules on place of manufacture to ensure that Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Irish Poteen/Poitín remain protected produce of Ireland. We are also asking MEPs to support the introduction of new enforcement provisions to prevent 'fake GI’ spirits produced in non-EU state from being transited through the EU. These proposals could take on added significance in the light of Brexit."


Media Contact:
Aidan O’Connor- Q4PR – 01 475 1444 / 087 634 2119
Note to the Editor:

1. About the Irish Spirits Association

The Irish Spirits Association (ISA) is a part of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland - the trade association that represents brewers, distillers, brand owners and distributors in Ireland -  which is a part of Ibec.
It was established in 1997 to promote the interests of the Irish spirits industry in Ireland and internationally. The ISA is an effective voice amongst national and EU policy makers for issues such as taxation, labelling and the ongoing international protection of Ireland’s Geographic Indicators (GIs): Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream Liqueur and Irish Poitín/Poteen.
The objective of the Association is to ensure that optimal international trading conditions exist for the Irish spirits industry. Membership is open to all branded spirits manufacturers and suppliers.
The Association offers information, representation and advice to its members, and provides a forum for members to network and collaborate on issues that impact the industry.
2. EU Spirits Regulation
In December 2016, the European Commission published a new draft regulation to replace the current EU Spirits Regulation 110/2008. This is the regulation which legally defines spirits (e.g. having minimum alcohol strength of 15%) and which governs the labelling and Geographic Indications (GIs) of those spirits.

According to the European Commission, the purpose and scope of the existing Regulation would remain unchanged and the changes proposed in the new regulation are simply technical adjustments aimed at simplifying and clarifying the Regulation and the processes it provides for, and aligning the Regulation with the legal framework set down by the Lisbon Treaty.
Additional information can be found on the Regulation here:
3. Geographic Indications – Spirits Drinks
Additional information can be found on the Department of Agriculture’s website: