A trade body has put forward proposals to amend the regulations governing Irish whiskey in a bid to offer producers “greater clarity and flexibility”.
The Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) has proposed the changes to the Irish whiskey specification, which defines the category’s production process and the rules governing island-wide geographical indication (GI). These rules ensure that certain products can be labeled and marketed as Irish whiskey.
The proposal has been submitted to the Irish government’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), as well as the category’s GI authorities.
The IWA said the proposed changes will ensure that the category reflects its “rich heritage and traditions” and supports sustainability.
The changes include broadening the definition of still Irish whiskey, allowing the use of up to 30% of other grains, namely oats, wheat or rye.
The IWA says this move reflects more traditional mash bills and will “greatly enhance” the subcategory by broadening the flavor profile and offering a unique selling point.
In addition, the group also calls 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, the IWA noted. This move would contribute to more sustainable grain whiskey production in the future, as distilleries could use more energy-efficient processes, according to the trade body.
The revisions have been developed by the IWA technical committee, with consultation from trade group members.
IWA technical committee chairman and Powerscourt Distillery master distiller and blender Noel Sweeney said, “Irish whiskey’s status as a protected geographical indication has played a key role in driving the global revival of Irish whiskey sales in recent years.
“Our GI is based on a strong set of rules, consistent with the heritage and traditions of Irish whiskey. These proposed changes are intended to bring greater clarity, efficiency and flexibility to Irish whiskey production processes, consistent with that heritage and traditions, while promoting a more sustainable industry.”
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