Over 1 mil­lion vis­i­tors ex­pected at whiskey dis­tillery vis­i­tor cen­tres

The Irish Times - - Business News - CHAR­LIE TAY­LOR

The num­ber of vis­i­tors to Ir­ish whiskey dis­til­leries is ex­pected to sur­pass 1 mil­lion this year.

The fore­cast comes as whiskey dis­til­leries con­tinue to be one of the fastest-grow­ing tourist at­trac­tions lo­cally. A to­tal of 923,000 peo­ple vis­ited Ir­ish dis­til­leries last year, up 13.4 per cent on 2017, when they at­tracted 814,000 peo­ple.

Cur­rently there are 13 whiskey dis­tillery vis­i­tor cen­tres open. How­ever, a fur­ther eight more are sched­uled to start op­er­a­tions this year, in­clud­ing the Pow­er­scourt Dis­tillery in En­niskerry, Co Wick­low, Di­a­geo’s Roe & Co at St James’s Gate in Dublin, and the Shed Dis­tillery in Drumshambo, Co Leitrim.

Some 88 per cent of vis­i­tors to Ir­ish dis­til­leries in 2019 were from over­seas with 40 per cent com­ing from North Amer­ica and 12 per cent from Bri­tain.

The Ir­ish Whiskey As­so­ci­a­tion (IWA) said the sec­tor is well on track to reach 1.9 mil­lion vis­i­tors by 2025. How­ever, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s head, Wil­liam Lavelle, warned the re­cent in­crease in the VAT rate on the hospi­tal­ity sec­tor could im­pact on growth, as could a dis­or­derly Brexit.

Ex­ports

Ir­ish whiskey is cur­rently the fastest-grow­ing premium spirit in the world, with sales grow­ing at more than 10 per cent a year in more than 75 coun­tries.

Fig­ures re­leased last week show whiskey ex­ports are now val­ued at ¤620 mil­lion an­nu­ally and ac­count for 42 per cent of to­tal bev­er­age ex­ports from the Repub­lic.

The thirst for Ir­ish whiskey has led to a sharp rise in the num­ber of dis­til­leries lo­cally. In late Novem­ber, Black­wa­ter Dis­tillery in Lis­more, Co Water­ford, be­came the 21st op­er­a­tional Ir­ish whiskey dis­tillery on the is­land. There are an­other 25 in the pipe­line, with five slated to open in the com­ing months.

The IWA, which orig­i­nally set a tar­get of dou­bling global sales from six mil­lion nine-litre cases to 12 mil­lion by 2020, re­cently said it is now look­ing to dou­ble sales again to 24 mil­lion by 2030.

“Just as Ir­ish whiskey re­mains the fastest-grow­ing premium spir­its cat­e­gory in the world, Ir­ish whiskey dis­til­leries are now among the fastest-grow­ing at­trac­tions in Ir­ish tourism,” said Mr Lavelle.

“Tourists and Ir­ish whiskey lovers alike are keen to know more about the back-story of the whiskey – where, how and by who it is made. They want to ex­pe­ri­ence the her­itage and vi­brancy of our dis­til­leries. The Ir­ish whiskey in­dus­try has a great tourism of­fer­ing, and it’s only go­ing to grow as more dis­til­leries open their doors to the pub­lic in 2019,” he added.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: CYRIL BYRNE

The Pow­er­scourt Dis­tillery in Co Wick­low is one of eight whiskey dis­tillery vis­i­tor cen­tres sched­uled to start op­er­a­tions this year.

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