'We've seen a renaissance in Ireland' - Coveney praises whiskey business now worth €650m to economy
IRELAND is savouring a whiskey renaissance with the 'auld cratur' now worth a tasty €650m a year to the economy.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney opened the new Clonakilty Distillery and visitors centre in west Cork by revealing that 40pc of all drinks exports now involve Irish whiskey.
Irish whiskey is now the fastest growing segment within the global drinks industry with exports enjoying almost double digit growth.
The new Clonakilty Distillery - developed by the Scully family at a cost of around €10m - will create 35 jobs and aims to offer a major tourism attraction on the Wild Atlantic Way.
"The whiskey story in Ireland is about tourism and about an export product that is now worth about €650m a year to the economy," Mr Coveney said.
"About 40pc of drinks exports out of Ireland now are whiskey. It is the fastest growing spirits category in the world."
"What is happening here is a trend around the country."
"This is another whiskey distillery that looks like it is going to be a huge success," he said.
He said Irish whiskey was simply tapping into vast potential which had lain dormant for decades.
"Seven or eight years ago when I became Minister for Agriculture, we were looking at sectors of the agri-food sector that could expand. At that time, Irish whiskey had largely been stagnant for decades. We were producing about 200,000 cases a year."
"Since then we have seen a whiskey renaissance in Ireland - we have gone from three of four whiskey distilleries in the country to now more than 40 and many more on the way."
"But this is not just about producing good quality whiskey - it is also about a visitor experience."
Mr Coveney said the new Clonakilty Distillery hopes to see up to 40,000 visitors a year.
"It is a tourism driver as well as a functioning, working distillery. It will be a tourism driver for the town of Clonakilty and the surrounding area."
"It is great to see the Scully family developing this, investing around €10m and employing 35 people."
The distillery's flagship product will be its triple distilled Clonakilty Whiskey.
Michael Scully, the distillery's founder, said it was a dream come true.
"I got this embryonic idea about six years ago that I wanted to start up a business closer to home," he said.
"We wanted something to showcase the very best that our farm and ocean can offer. One thing led to another and here we are today, six years later, with this fabulous new distillery."
The distillery will market various whiskey types as well as offering a visitor experience and speciality restaurant.
However, the distillery will also market a special Minke Irish Gin, named in honour of the whales that swim in waters offshore of west Cork.
The firm's flagship whiskey won a prestigious silver medal at the 2018 IWSC International Fair.