Blackwater Irish distillers pernod ricard

IWA responds to claims Irish whiskey laws favour Pernod

10 July, 2019

The Irish Whiskey Association has responded to claims that its Geographical Indication and Technical File is in danger of dumbing down’ the category.

In 2014 the IWA secured a GI and Technical File to define and control the production of Irish whiskey but now these rules have met opposition from Irish distiller Blackwater, which argues these definitions benefit Pernod Ricards Irish Distillers.

A blog post written by Blackwater says that the legislation, particularly the definition of Irish pot still whiskey, is inaccurate and restrictive.

Blackwater points to archaic British laws which forbid distillers from bringing in wash - distillers beer - from outside the distillery, and the definition of the grain make up of a pot still whiskey - which limits the use of other grains apart from barley to just 5% of the mash bill. 

The distiller says this is not in keeping with many traditional and historical mash bill recipes, suggesting that the rules are designed to reflect the recipes that biggest producer Irish Distillers uses for its current pot still whiskeys.

William Lavelle, head of the Irish Whiskey Association, has defended the Associations role in securing the GI and Technical File.

There have been a number of very important moments that have shaped the future of Irish whiskey, and securing the GI from the European Union in 2014 was one of those key moments,said Lavelle.

Defining Irish whiskey and its main styles was a difficult process, as a broad catch-all definition for any of the distinctive whiskeys would weaken the claim for the GI.

It is noted that well over half of the 24 currently-operational Irish whiskey distilleries are producing pot still Irish whiskey in line with the GI Technical File.

The Technical File also allows for significant innovation in the production of Irish whiskey. This is leading to an exciting diversity of new products and expressions across the broader Irish whiskey category.

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