The Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) has submitted proposals for several amendments to the Irish Whiskey Product Specification, which defines the production processes and other rules governing the Irish Whiskey Geographic Indication.
These proposals have been submitted to the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, as well as to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as the relevant authorities responsible for the all-island Irish Whiskey Geographic Indication.
The IWA says that the proposed amendments will offer greater clarity and flexibility to distilleries and 'ensure that Irish Whiskey remains consistent with the industry’s rich heritage and traditions. Similarly, they will support sustainable processes being developed by the diverse and future-focused Irish Whiskey sector on the island of Ireland.'
Irish Whiskey’s Geographical Indication (GI) status and the approval of the Irish Whiskey Product Specification ensures that only products produced and labelled in accordance with the Irish Whiskey Product Specification can be marketed and sold as Irish Whiskey.
These amendments have been developed by the Irish Whiskey Association’s Technical Committee, which comprises leading technical experts from across the industry, in consultation with the Association’s broader membership.
The Irish Whiskey Association Technical Committee and the production specification review proposal was chaired by Noel Sweeney, master distiller and blender at Powerscourt Distillery.
Commenting on the proposals, 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,” he added.
The IWA has proposed a number of amendments, 'so that the Product Specification ensures that the industry can have a focus on the future while respecting the rich heritage of the category'.
One such amendment relates to expanding the definition of Pot Still Irish Whiskey to allow up to 30% of other cereals, namely, oats, wheat or rye be permitted.
The IWA says that this expansion more accurately reflects traditional Irish Pot Still mash bills and 'will greatly enhance the pot still category by broadening the potential grains taste profile and allowing a more unique Irish Pot Still selling point.'
Proposals also relate to the removal of the 30% maximum malted barley requirement from the Grain Irish Whiskey definition.
The IWA says that there is historical precedence that a higher malted barley content has been used in grain production in the past.
'Removing this limit will better facilitate more sustainable grain whiskey production in the future as it will allow distilleries to adopt more energy efficient processes,' says the association.