Irish whiskey - supporting a sustainable Irish tillage sector

September 23, 2021

The Irish whiskey industry proudly purchases over 100,000 tonnes of Irish barley and malt.

Production of distilling grade malt in Ireland has increased 400% over the past decade; and as sales of Irish whiskey grow, demand for Irish barley and malt is continuing to grow.

Irish whiskey distilleries are also using more and more Irish oats, wheat, rye and other grains.

From grain to glass, the Irish whiskey industry is committed to supporting Irish farmers and supporting a sustainable Irish tillage sector.

Blended Irish whiskey

As sales of Irish whiskey have grown, there has been a corresponding increased demand for Irish grown barley (malted and unmalted) and for maize. Given that over 95% of Irish whiskeys are blends, the increases in demand for both barley and maize are inextricably linked – increases in demand for maize means increases in demand for barley. However, there is a requirement to import maize which is not grown in Ireland. There is also a requirement to import peated and specialist malts which are not produced commercially in Ireland.

Need for implementation plan to increase tillage production

Drinks Ireland welcomes the Food Vision 2030 strategy’s target for increased tillage production. However, we strongly believe that this target requires more detailed definition. Drinks Ireland calls on the Department to commence work on the preparation of a detailed implementation plan to drive the delivery of this Food Vision 2030 target. This should address the objective of ensuring sustainable supply of Irish produced malt and grain for the Irish drinks industry; including an increase in the area planted under spring barley.


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