With the phenomenal rise in Irish Whiskey sales, as well as growth in distilleries over the past decade, and more so the last few years, it is no wonder concern is had over product quality, procedures, and other aspects of the industry. Any industry that sees up to a 200% increase in 10 years might want to head off any potential problems that would affect not only new players in the market, but subsequently the well established ones as well. And with that in mind, The Irish Whiskey Association has begun a mentoring program that joins new companies with others such as Irish Distillers and Bushmills.
The mentoring program includes workshops to share knowledge on production, branding, licencing, route to market, and other aspects of the business. And there will also be an online portal for participants to get assistance in general business planning. Furthermore the program offers guidance in even the planning design and construction of new distilleries. All of this is intended to help insure that what has become known and loved about Irish Whiskies continues to be so. Protecting the premium nature of Irish Whiskey is important, and its growth should be a positive gain for all involved, and not a negative in the rush to expand.
At the launch of the program, Miriam Mooney, Head of the Irish Whiskey Association, said “Today’s launch marks an exciting milestone for Irish Whiskey’s history. This is a unique program which will see industry leaders support new market entrants. It also showcases the collegiality amongst industry and members of the Irish Whiskey Association. The mentor companies will share information, expertise and knowledge with new entrants enabling them to plan and succeed in the Irish whiskey business whilst at the same time upholding the integrity and quality that has underpinned Irish whiskey’s global renaissance”
Bernard Walsh, chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association and CEO of Walsh Whiskey Distillery, added: “The Irish whiskey industry is at a pivotal moment in its history. We know that there is huge consumer appetite for our brands globally, we only have to look across the water to Scotland with 108 distilleries in operation to see what’s possible.” Stating further, ” This initiative is very welcome and the mentor companies are to be applauded for investing their expertise in new projects, to ensure high standards are maintained. For the industry to grow and compete internationally with scotch and bourbon brands we cannot compromise on quality. The advice and support of industry experts is invaluable in helping companies navigate what can be difficult and complex issues.” And he is, of course, correct.
David Quinn, Technical Director, Irish Distillers, also stated: “Irish Distillers is delighted to be participating in this industry-first program. As the Irish whiskey category continues its growth at pace, innovation will be key to realizing the full potential of Irish whiskey on the world stage. The mentoring partnership is mutually beneficial, with new entrants bringing new brands and stories to the global market, and established companies imparting the legacy and traditions of our founders as well as their approaches to innovation. At Irish Distillers, we have already seen incredible results, working with distilleries such as Walsh Whiskey Distillery. We look forward to growing our relationships with other emerging companies and continuing on our journey of nurturing the Irish whiskey renaissance globally.”
This is all wonderful news for those of us who tend to gravitate to Irish Whiskey. They say you can never have enough good whiskey, and I tend to agree. But the key is to make sure that the increased availability and new entries are as good as they can, and should, be. And this new mentoring program is designed to do just that. So I tip my hat to the Irish Whiskey Association and everyone taking advantage of this new mentoring program.