Distilleries could attract 135,000 visitors to the North West

Friday, 22 September 2017

The Irish Whiskey Association’s North West Regional Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy was launched by the Minister for Rural & Community Development Michael Ring today at Connacht Irish Whiskey Distillery in Ballina, Co Mayo.

The Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy will work with growing number of distilleries around the North West to attract thousands more tourists to the region.

Minister Ring said, “I am very pleased on behalf of the Government to launch the North West Regional Irish Whiskey Association Tourism Strategy which aims to attract 1.9 million tourists to distillery towns around Ireland by 2025.”

“Whiskey tourism has the potential to play a very valuable role in rural and community development around the country, delivering €1.3 billion to rural and urban communities all over Ireland every year and creating hundreds of jobs.”

A few years ago there were no distilleries operating in the North West. Now there are two and soon there will be five operating across Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo.

“Irish distilleries are positioning themselves as key tourist attractions and will attract tens of thousands of foreign visitors to the North West bringing vital revenue and up to 100 jobs to the region,” the head of the Irish Whiskey Association William Lavelle said.

“We believe that distilleries in the North West have the potential to exceed the target of 135,000 visitors and play an integral role in making Ireland the world’s number one whiskey tourism destination by 2025.”

Recognising the potential of Irish whiskey tourism, Connacht Irish Whiskey in Ballina opened its visitor centre in July 2016. The Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney in Drumshanbo and Lough Gill Distillery in Hazelwood House, Sligo plan to open their visitor centres in early 2018 and Sliabh Liag Distillery in Carrick recently received planning permission for a distillery and visitor centre.

“It is an exciting time for Irish whiskey in the North West. In December, the first whiskey distilled in Connacht in more than 100 years will be ready, which is a real milestone for region,” William added.

“Irish whiskey is performing exceptionally well abroad with exports growing by 18.6% in the first six months of 2017. The Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy aims to create a comprehensive tourism offering to attract whiskey enthusiasts from around the globe to distilleries in the North West.”


Notes to Editor

The Irish Whiskey Association is an all-island organisation and was established in 2014. It provides a forum for all operators, new and old, to come together to share expertise and cooperate in building the Irish whiskey category brand.

The Irish whiskey category is the fastest growing premium spirit in the world. Irish whiskey sales have increased by over 300% in the last 10 years accounting for almost one third of all Irish beverage exports.

Exports of Irish whiskey are anticipated to double to 144 million bottles by 2020 (12 million 9 litre cases – 12 75cl bottles per case) and 288 million bottles by 2030 (24 million 9 litre cases) - Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy.

There are currently 18 working distilleries on the island of Ireland, with another 16 with planning permission. 1.9 million tourists are expected to pass through the doors of Irish whiskey distilleries by 2025 - Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy.

There are two distilleries in the North West, soon to be four (Connacht Irish Whiskey, Lough Gill Distillery, Sliabh Liag Distillery, The Shed Distillery). Distilleries in the North West will support up to 100 jobs and are expected to attract in the region of 135,000 tourists every year.

The Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy which sets out how Ireland can become the world leader in whiskey tourism by 2030. The strategy sets out four recommendations which are required in order to achieve that objective:

• Support the growth of Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres
• Develop an all island whiskey tourism product
• Create an Irish whiskey trail and tourism infrastructure around distilleries
• Develop an embassy network of hotels, restaurants and pubs

For further information contact:
Melanie McDonald, Red Flag (Dublin) +353 1 634 4534 / +353 86 047 4531