The Irish Whiskey Association, which is the representative body for the Irish Whiskey Industry, is to launch a major worldwide drive against ‘fake’ Irish whiskeys.

Members of the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) have agreed to treble the association’s legal budget for 2019, ensuring there are sufficient resources to fight against products that infringe on the laws governing the labelling and sale of Irish whiskey. The IWA and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland have also recently agreed new Guidelines on the labelling and marketing of Irish whiskey.

Irish whiskey is an internationally-recognised Geographic Indication, meaning that Irish whiskey can only be made on the island of Ireland in line with an approved technical file.

Head of the IWA, William Lavelle, recently spoke on this topic the Irish Pubs Global Conference 2018 in Galway. Lavelle stated: “Irish whiskey is booming. Every week this year, sales of Irish whiskey increased by nearly a quarter of a million bottles compared with the week before. We are proud of this growth and we are very proud of the great whiskey we make in Ireland.”

“However, as global sales of Irish whiskey continue to sky-rocket, it’s not surprising that fraudsters want to get-in on our success. But it doesn’t mean we’ll let them. Whether it’s a Russian spirit with brown coloring or a US-made whiskey being labelled as ‘Irish-style’; it’s not authentic Irish whiskey. The IWA, under the direction of our Head Legal Advisor Carleen Madigan, will be increasing our response to such infringements in line with the priority and funding being provided by our member companies, who are the people making real, authentic Irish whiskey here in Ireland.”

“The IWA has been taking action against these imitation products since 2014 and this work will ramp-up from 2019.”

 “To date, we have successfully resolved a number of reported infringement matters through working directly with the brand owners agreeing to take the necessary corrective action.  We are also actively pursuing a number of infringing brands in Russia, as well as a number of mislabelling issues with products on sale in the EU.”

 Lavelle urged Irish Pubs around the world to help by checking that the Irish whiskeys they supply are GI-compliant and by reporting any suspected cases of ‘fake’ Irish whiskeys.

The IWA has taken steps to ensure that Irish whiskey is recognised and protected as a Geographical Indication (GI) in all export markets where there is an existing GI registry. Where such GI protection is not available, other means of protecting Irish whiskey are considered, such as registering Irish whiskey as a certification or collective trademark. With the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, the IWA have applications pending in Australia, South Africa, Russia, India and Thailand.

The IWA and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland have also recently agreed to a new set of Guidelines on the labelling and marketing of Irish whiskey.

Lavelle added: “These new guidelines will mean that consumers can be assured that the information appearing on an Irish whiskey label is accurate and not misleading; and it will provide a clear and agreed benchmark against which complaints of misleading labelling can be assessed and enforced against.”

Lavelle concluded: “Irish whiskey remains one of the most exciting and dynamic spirits categories on the planet. We want to make sure consumers know what they’re drinking and we want to ensure the good name of Irish whiskey and the high standards which have become a hallmark of the category continue to be protected and enforced around the world.”