Whiskey business orders up more barley and malt

Industry calls for sustainable supply and greater variety of grains as sales surge

In 2016 the Irish drinks industry purchased 220,000 tonnes of Irish barley. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

In 2016 the Irish drinks industry purchased 220,000 tonnes of Irish barley. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

 

A sustainable supply of barley and malt is critical to the continued growth of Irish whiskey, the head of the Irish Whiskey Association has said.

The whiskey industry’s 2014 target to double sales of whiskey from six million cases to 12 million will be met or exceeded, said William Lavelle, after an estimated 10 million cases were sold in 2017.

“The growth in the Irish whiskey industry is good news not only for the distillers, but for business owners in supporting industries, including tillage farmers and maltsters,” Mr Lavelle said. “The challenge is making sure that supply meets demand, and that producers across industries have the means to work together.”

A greater variety of grains is also required by distillers as they experiment with new recipes, he added.

In 2016 the Irish drinks industry purchased 220,000 tonnes of Irish barley, both malted and unmalted – a figure that accounts for 15 per cent of the Irish barley harvest. Some 85,000 of these tonnes were purchased by whiskey distilleries, and this figure is expected to grow significantly as global sales surge and more distilleries come on stream.