Sunday 26 May 2019

Whiskey distillers raise a toast as EU gives special status to our uisce beatha

Teeling Whiskey managing director Jack Teeling at the firm’s Liberties distillery. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Teeling Whiskey managing director Jack Teeling at the firm’s Liberties distillery. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

Distillers of Irish whiskey are raising their shot glasses to the EU, which has granted 'the water of life' a special protection status.

Uisce beatha will now be protected in a similar vein to Champagne in France, Stilton cheese in the UK and Prosciutto in Italy.

Irish cream and Irish poitin were also given the coveted geographical indication (GI) status by the European Commission.

A GI is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess unique or reputable qualities.

For years, whiskey distillers in Ireland have been calling for EU protection as the industry continues to surge in profits.

Carleen Madigan, of the Irish Whiskey Association, described the EU's decision as a "momentous achievement".

"It ensures that the traditions and high standards of the Irish whiskey category will be protected in the EU and globally in markets with which the EU has a trade agreement," she said.

"As sales of Irish whiskey continue to boom globally, we have seen a trebling in the complaints to the association regarding fake Irish whiskey around the world.

"The GI provides the strongest possible protection against these infringements and gives us the basis for enforcement action against misleading products," she said.

Managing director of Teeling Whiskey Jack Teeling said a lot of time and effort went into convincing the EU that it was worthy of a protection status.

"We pulled together all of the main players in the industry and worked together to help the Government put forward a GI for Irish whiskey.

"It's taken a long time, but I'm sure it will be worth the effort."

Mr Teeling added that the GI status of Scottish whisky was now in doubt because of Brexit.

"I honestly don't know what's going to happen, but it would be an awful shame if they lost their GI because of it," he added.

Irish Independent

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