Irish Whiskey

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

October 2016 – The Irish Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Anne Anderson, joined the Irish Whiskey Association at the Irish Embassy in Washington D.C for the U.S. launch of the ‘Protect Irish Whiskey Campaign’, which aims to address in international markets the sale of products that are wrongly advertised, packaged, displayed or named in a way that they appear to be Irish Whiskey. Irish Whiskey must be distilled and matured in wooden casks on the island of Ireland for at least three years.

The campaign is directed to Irish Whiskey producers, distributors and all who value Irish Whiskey, asking them to highlight any potentially misleading products to the Irish Whiskey Association so that action can be taken. As part of this campaign, the Irish Whiskey Association has arranged meetings with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the Distilled Spirits Council in order to discuss the furtherance of protection of Irish Whiskey in the United States.

The Irish Whiskey Association indicated that there are many ways consumers may be led to believe a product is Irish whiskey:

    The use of names or devices associated with Ireland, like shamrocks or Irish surnames

    If a local ‘whisky’ were to be produced in another country containing some Irish Whiskey and passed off as Irish Whiskey

    A product being called Irish Whiskey when, in fact, it’s not as it doesn’t meet specific production requirements

    The use of descriptions such as “Irish Type Whiskey” or Irish Style Whiskey, are forbidden under Irish Whiskey’s Geographical Indication protection status

    Misleading packaging, point of sale material and advertising

    Misleading age claims

    A product displayed amongst Irish Whiskey

Speaking at the launch, Ambassador Anne Anderson said:

“The Irish Whiskey category is experiencing a revival in growth, with the US continuing to be the number one export market. Irish Whiskey has been sold in the US for over one hundred years and exports of Irish whiskey continue to grow significantly, increasing by 19 per cent last year, surpassing the 3 million nine-litre-case mark. With 50% of our whiskey exported to the US, its reputation in this market is extremely important to the industry and the Irish economy. We will work closely with the Irish Whiskey Association on protecting and promoting Irish Whiskey in the US, and will raise awareness and encourage support for this campaign through our links with the Irish American community.”

The role of the Irish Whiskey Association is to protect and promote the Irish Whiskey category and it devotes substantial resources to this task every year. As part of this campaign, the Irish Whiskey Association has hired a Legal Advisor to oversee the protection role, Carleen Madigan BL. Speaking at the launch she said:

“The growing popularity and reputation of Irish Whiskey may encourage some individuals to seek to take unfair advantage of it. In the early 1900s, during the Prohibition era in the United States, the industry was almost irrevocably damaged by bootleggers passing off of inferior product as Irish Whiskey. We have launched the “Protect Irish Whiskey Campaign” in order to ensure the integrity of the category is maintained and to ensure that the category maximises its potential. The Irish Whiskey Association cannot visit every market worldwide and accordingly we rely on data and information from others to alert us to instances of misleading labelling, imitation or unfair competition so that action can be taken.

Bernard Walsh, Chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association and founder of Walsh Whiskey Distillery said:

“Irish Whiskey is the fastest growing premium spirits category in the world. Global market share is set to grow by 300% by 2030 to 12%. By 2025 production will rise by 41% from 2010 levels. While we have achieved Geographical Indication status for Irish Whiskey, which is significant in terms of protecting the integrity of category, we must not rest on our laurels. As Irish Whiskey continues to perform well, we are likely to be challenged considerably more in terms of misleading products, which is why this enforcement campaign is important. We very much welcome Ambassador Anderson’s support in ensuring the category reaches its full potential and also the opportunity to meet with and foster relations with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the Distilled Spirits Council. With the support of the Irish embassy and these organisations, the Irish Whiskey Association is taking the requisite steps to ensure the integrity of the category is protected in it’s most important market.”

The Irish Whiskey Association is urging anyone who notices potentially misleading products to report:

        o The name of the brand

        o The wording on the label

        o The names of any companies identified on the labels

        o The name and address of the outlet where the product is being sold.

        o Photographs of the display (with date photographs were taken)