A proposal to amend the regulations governing Irish whiskey has been submitted by a trade group (IWA). The proposal is the latest attempt to offer producers what they state: "a greater clarity and flexibility".
IWA, The Irish Whiskey Association has proposed a number of changes to the Irish whiskey product specification. The areas under scrutiny are under category's production process and the rules governing the geographical indication. These rules are in place to ensure that certain products can be labelled and marketed as 'Irish Whiskey'.
The proposal was submitted to the Irish government’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), as well as the authorities responsible for the category’s (GI) geographical indication. This isn't the first time that Irish whiskey regulations under review by similar trade groups.
The reason for these amended suggestions is stated to ensure the category reflects its ‘rich heritage and traditions', and also supports sustainability.
The changes include an expansion of the definition of pot still Irish whiskey, allowing up to 30% of other cereals to be used – specifically, oats, wheat, or rye. This may be a much-supported change due to the rising demand of grains for food and alcohol production with rising costs due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.
The IWA said this reflects more traditional pot still mash bills and will ‘greatly enhance’ the subcategory by widening the taste profile and offering a unique selling point. Furthermore, the group is also calling for the removal of the 30% maximum malted barley requirement from the category’s grain definition.
Historically, a higher malted barley content has been used in grain production. This move would assist in more sustainable grain whiskey production in the future as distilleries would be able to use more energy-efficient processes, according to the trade body.
The revisions have been developed by the IWA’s technical committee, with consultation from the trade group’s members.
Chair of the IWA’s technical committee and Powerscourt Distillery’s master distiller and blender, Noel Sweeney, said: “Irish whiskey’s status as a protected geographic indication has played a key role in driving the global revival of Irish whiskey sales over recent years".
“Our GI is built on a strong set of rules, consistent with Irish whiskey’s heritage and traditions. These proposed changes seek to provide greater clarity, efficiency, and flexibility to Irish whiskey production processes in line with those heritage and traditions, while also promoting a more sustainable industry.”
It will be interesting to see if and how these changes are potentially implemented, stay tuned...