Irish Whiskey360 and Tourism Ireland to promote Irish whiskey tourism in the US and Canada

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

IrishWhiskey360 and Tourism Ireland will launch a kick-off campaign to promote Irish whiskey tourism among US and Canadian media and incoming tour operators in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day.
IrishWhiskey360 is Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey’s tourism-focused campaign to raise international awareness of the depth and diversity of Irish whiskey’s tourism offering.

Two North American events have been planned:
• A lunch, briefing and Irish whiskey tasting with visiting Irish whiskey brand ambassadors in Toronto, Thursday, 5th March; and
• A briefing and Irish whiskey tasting event with 17 Irish whiskey companies, in conjunction with the Irish American Business Chamber in Philadelphia, Wednesday, 11th March.

These events form part of an extensive series of Irish events taking place across North America in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day which will be attended by a large number of Irish whiskey brand ambassadors and industry leaders from Ireland, including the Chairman of Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey David Stapleton; and the Head of Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey, William Lavelle.

Speaking in advance of the events, William Lavelle stated: “Over one third of all visitors to Irish whiskey distilleries last year came from the US or Canada. But surprisingly, the number of visitors from North America is falling. We aim to stop and reverse that decline. We are very grateful to Tourism Ireland for partnering with IrishWhiskey360 to raise awareness of Irish whiskey among key US and Canadian media and stakeholders.

“IrishWhiskey360 aims to make Ireland the number one destination in the world for whiskey tourism. With the active support of partners such as Tourism Ireland we can make that happen.”

Also commenting ahead of the trip was Alison Metcalfe, Executive VP North America and Australia /New Zealand, Tourism Ireland, who said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Drinks Ireland | Irish Whiskey to highlight some of the whiskey products that Ireland has to offer, and to promote the opportunity to continue the experience by visiting one of Ireland’s many distilleries. Food and drink are vital elements of today’s holiday experience and a major contributor to increasing holiday satisfaction. We hope that engaging and informative events like these, help to raise awareness of Ireland’s rich food and beverage culture overseas.”

Key figures as to how Irish whiskey contributes to tourism in Ireland include:
• Over one million people visited Irish whiskey distilleries and brand homes last year, the first-time visitor numbers have exceeded the one-million mark.
• There was a 10.5 per cent increase in visitor numbers last year – from 923,000 in 2018, to 1.02 million.
• North America remains the top market of origin for visitors to Irish whiskey distilleries, with tourists from the US and Canada accounting for 34 per cent of all visits in 2019.
• However, the total number of tourists from the US and Canada fell by 8 per cent last year in real terms.
• In just four years, the total number of visitors to Irish whiskey distilleries and brand homes has grown by 54 per cent - from 653,000 in 2015 to a 2019 record of 1.02 million.
● IrishWhiskey360 is an industry-led, all-island Irish Whiskey tourism initiative launched by Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey.
• Plans for 2020 underway include development of regional clusters, centralised booking and new digital content.


The Irish whiskey tourism offer ranges from the Jameson Experience in Dublin which is the most visited spirits tourism attraction in Europe with over 350,000 visitors annually, to distilleries in locations including Dingle, Kilbeggan and Slane; bringing jobs, visitors and income to rural communities.

Many distilleries and brand homes have innovated and expanded their offers, such as the increase in blending and cocktail classes along with the expansion in meet-the-maker, food-pairing and seasonal special events.

Mr. Lavelle concluded: “Visitors to Irish whiskey distilleries and brand homes learn about making Irish whiskey while making new memories. But as more distilleries and brand homes engage in exciting innovation, we want to make Irish whiskey a world leader in experiential tourism.”