Irish Spirits Association meets Scotch Whisky Association in Edinburgh on eve of 6 Nations

Friday, 3 February 2017

To discuss challenges and opportunities facing sectors
Scotch whisky exports worth 4bn
Irish whiskey exports worth €505m

Edinburgh, Friday 3 February 2017 – As the Irish and Scottish rugby teams prepare to kick off the six nations championship in Edinburgh tomorrow (4th February) representatives from the Irish Spirits Association and the Scotch Whisky Association are holding their annual meeting to discuss products, new opportunities and the challenges posed by Brexit.

Irish whiskey exports now represent more than a third of all drinks exports and were valued at €505 million in 2016. The industry has experienced huge growth over the last 10 years and this week alone plans for two new distilleries in Derry and Dublin moved another step closer, bringing the total number of distilleries to 16 in production and a further 14 in planning with many other projects at other stages of development. With 118 distilleries in operation in Scotland and exports of Scotch whisky valued at 4 billion a year, the sector is considerably bigger than the Irish whiskey sector.

Irish whiskey vs Scotch whisky league table:

Irish Whiskey Scotch Whisky
Employees (direct and indirect) 5,000 40,000
Number of distilleries 16 in production and 14 in planning 118
Number of Markets sold in world 135 200
Export value €505m 4bn

Miriam Mooney, Head of the Irish Spirits Association said: “Whilst Irish whiskey is the fastest growing premium spirit in the world, the Scotch whisky industry is more established and is the largest net contributor to the UK's balance of trade in goods, creating 5 billion annually for the economy. As the Irish whiskey sector continues to prosper we only have to look at Scotland to see what’s possible for the industry in terms of growth and potential. The sector is a significant contributor to rural employment, supporting often fragile local economies including 7,000 jobs in rural Scotland alone.

“Irish whiskey is undergoing a renaissance which is being driven by both existing and new players alike and global recognition for high quality Irish whiskey has never been higher. We look forward to working together with our counterparts in Scotland to promote further growth and to discuss the challenges facing both sectors including the uncertainty around Brexit ”.