IRELAND’S WHISKEY distilleries are open for business – and they need you.
That’s according to the new Get Back into the Spirit campaign set up by Drinks Ireland to encourage more Irish whiskey tourism over the next few months.
With Ireland, like many countries around the world, placing restrictions on travel to help combat Covid-19, Drinks Ireland believes it’s more important than ever than local visitors do their bit to safeguard the future of Ireland’s thriving whiskey sector.
And if that means enjoying a few glasses of the spirit, then so be it.
As lockdown measures ease across the country this month, a number of distilleries closed since back in March have begun reopening, albeit with new guidelines to ensure physical distancing measures.
William Lavelle, head of Drinks Ireland, told The Spirit Business: “Irish whiskey distilleries attracted over one million visitors last year, but 87% of visitors were from overseas, making Irish whiskey distilleries one of the most exposed sectors impacted by the international travel collapse.
“This year, distilleries have obviously experienced a very sharp decline in visitor numbers, in particular visitors from overseas. Thankfully, the distilleries that have reopened to date are reporting a slow but steadily growing stream of domestic tourists and local visitors.
“While increased domestic tourism cannot fully make-up for the fall in visitor numbers from overseas, getting more Irish people through the doors of distilleries over the coming months will be critical to ensuring their future viability.
“So we’re hoping domestic tourists will support the industry, and use this summer as an opportunity to discover the hidden whiskey gems that are on their doorstep.”
While many distilleries have reopened with smaller tour opportunities, they have also introduced new experiences for visitors to enjoy in the new normal of a Covid-19 world.
Lavelle said that many distilleries have reopened with smaller tours and new experiences in the wake of Covid-19.
“Smaller tour sizes, private tastings, new cocktail and food pairings, and collaborations with local businesses are just some of the ways our members are adapting their offerings as they reopen,” Lavelle said.
“Safety is obviously a key focus for all our visitor centres – they have reduced their tour sizes and introduced all the necessary requirements to ensure social distancing can be adhered to.
“Irish whiskey visitor centres are not just for whiskey fans – they offer a cultural and historical experience, where visitors can learn about how whiskey is made, the history of the local area, taste whiskey and sample local cuisine.
“Whether you’re a couple looking for a fun date experience, or a group of friends looking to catch up after a difficult few months, we would urge people to get back into the spirit of discovery and friendship, and support local brands, by including an Irish whiskey visitor centre in their summer plans.”
A raft of familiar distilleries have already opened including: Clonakilty Distillery, Kilbeggan Distillery, Roe & Co Distillery, Tullamore Dew Distillery, Powerscourt Distillery, Pearse Lyons Distillery, Jameson Bow Street, Midleton Distillery and Teeling Whiskey Distillery.