Wednesday 23 January 2019

Drinks body warns of Brexit threat to EU protection for Irish whiskey status

Bernard Walsh, of the Irish Whiskey Association, part of the ABFI
Bernard Walsh, of the Irish Whiskey Association, part of the ABFI
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

European Union protections for Irish spirits producers will be thrown into doubt after Brexit, industry group the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) has warned.

Only producers on the island of Ireland can market Irish whiskey, Irish liqueur or Poitín in the EU, thanks to the single market's Geographic Indicator (GI) rule.

The same rules mean only sparkling wine produced in the famous French region can be marketed as Champagne.

But Ireland's all-island drinks industry faces unique risks if there's regulatory divergence in the event of a hard Brexit, the (ABFI) has said. ABFI director Patricia Callan said uniquely for an EU GI producers here would have to rely on a post-Brexit UK to protect the Irish whiskey designation. "As this protection covers the 'island of Ireland', these products can be made in both Northern Ireland and the Republic," Ms Callan said.

"Post-Brexit, these three Irish spirits GIs will be the only ones to carry such protections where production takes place both in the EU and outside the EU."

She said it was critical that the same level of legal recognition and enforcement remained in place after Brexit. The ABFI said it was "vital" that, in the final EU-UK agreement, spirits produced in the North could continue to be labelled 'Product of Ireland' inside and outside the EU.

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