Drinks Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the Irish drinks sector, has announced the election of Pat Rigney as its chairperson for the next two years.
Rigney is the founder and managing director of the Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney.
The Shed Distillery is best known for Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, which it distils in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim.
Prior to founding the distillery in 2014, Rigney had 25 years’ experience in the industry.
Speaking about his appointment, he said, “I am passionate about our sector, which is of huge importance to Ireland – especially the rural economy, such as Leitrim – our local identity and heritage, with breweries, distilleries, cider producers, visitor centres and hospitality venues bringing jobs to communities throughout the country.
“We now have some 40 Irish whiskey distilleries – up from only four in 2010 – and over 34 Irish gin producers on the island of Ireland. There are eight facilities in Ireland producing Irish cream and nine poitín producers. As well as this, there are 100 brewing companies and about a dozen cider producers in the Republic of Ireland.
“The rise in local Irish distilleries and breweries has transformed the rural Irish economy, creating significant employment. Irish drinks brand exports have risen to €2 billion, contributing €2.6 billion in VAT and excise payments to the Irish Exchequer,” Rigney added, “but beyond these statistics are individuals, families, communities and companies working every day to produce Irish drinks brands, which compete on the world stage for Ireland, and of which we should all be proud.”