Alcohol promotion ban would spirit away whiskey industry's future growth
The Irish whiskey industry has warned that its record-breaking growth could be jeopardised by new alcohol promotion regulations.
The Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) claimed that the new Public Health (Alcohol) Bill could have a devastating impact on its industry and threaten everything from the success of new visitor centres to spin-off tourism sales.
Irish whiskey is, by sector, the fastest-growing drinks type in the world.
Jameson sales alone are set to reach €1bn by 2020, with the number of cases sold worldwide each year having increased by 1,000pc since 1988.
The American market, for 70 years the dominant whiskey market in the world, leads the way, with Jameson sales soaring by up to 37pc each year in some US states.
Irish Distillers' parent, Pernod Ricard, is celebrating the fact that a top US industry magazine has dubbed Jameson "one of the top 20 hottest brands in North America".
The number of people visit- ing Irish whiskey heritage centres last year soared by 11pc.
IWA director William Lavelle has now pleaded with the Government for consultation over the potential impact of the new legislation.
Mr Lavelle said that, despite repeated requests to consult the Department of Health over the new regulations, no talks with the whiskey industry have been granted.
"The repeated refusal to engage with the industry means that the consequences of this legislation have not been fully assessed," he said.
"With the Alcohol Bill due to come before the Dail soon, we are calling on the minister and TDs to engage with us on reasonable amendments. This would better balance the Bill, ensuring the Irish whiskey tourism industry is protected."
IWA concerns revolve around the potential ban on all advertising and promotion of alcohol-based products.
"This means that advertising of visitor centres could be severely constrained," said Mr Lavelle. "This is yet another unintended consequence of this Bill.
"This could prevent the advertising of whiskey tourism, negatively impact this growing industry and put jobs at risk in communities which are reliant on the influx of visitors to the local distillery visitor centre."
The IWA said the number of visitors to Irish distillery heritage centres reached 814,000 last year. That represents a 25pc hike since 2015.
"In 2017, IWA members operated 12 distillery visitor centres in Ireland," Mr Lavelle added.