Government accused of ‘schizophrenic’ attitude towards Irish whiskey

Article claims Government wants the benefits of a thriving whiskey industry but would prefer ‘if no one actually drinks the stuff’

American oak barrels containing Jameson whiskey produced by Irish Distillers in Midleton, Co Cork

American oak barrels containing Jameson whiskey produced by Irish Distillers in Midleton, Co Cork

 

The Government wants the benefits of a thriving whiskey industry but would prefer “if no-one actually drinks the stuff”, according to influential US business magazine Forbes.

US wine and spirits writer Joseph V Micallef highlights the Government’s “schizophrenic” attitude towards Irish whiskey, whose revival has attracted a wave of investment over the last decade.

In the Forbes article “The Future of Irish Whiskey: Is Dublin a Help or a Hindrance?”, Micallef says the growth in the drink’s production and sales is “indisputable and impressive”.

He questions the Government’s attitude to whiskey’s revival. Micallef says that the administration sees the industry as an important driver of rural development and likes the hundreds of millions of euro it dumps in State coffers. At the same time the Government has imposed one of the highest tax rates in Europe on whiskey and has introduced other steps, such as the Public Health Act, to hinder consumption.

“It is as if Dublin wants the lucrative tax revenue that the industry generates, the promise of rural jobs and development it can create, not to mention the tourism dollars and visitors it encourages, while at the same time preferring that no one actually drinks the stuff,” Micallef argues.

William Lavelle, head of the Irish Whiskey Association, which is lobbying against such measures, welcomed Micallef’s article. He argued that the “excessive and disproportionate” Public Health (Alcohol) Bill threatened the whiskey industry’s reputation and the Government’s credibility.

“Irish whiskey remains the fastest growing spirits category in the world. There is widespread disbelief that our own Government could seek to hamper this growth by bringing in draconian measures at a time when consumption of alcohol in Ireland has fallen 23 per cent since 2001.”