Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey highlights importance of domestic tourism as Irish whiskey distilleries heavily impacted by collapse in international tourism

July 16, 2020

Irish whiskey distilleries are reopening and are offering fun-filled experiences for all those looking to get back into the spirit of discovery and friendship post-lockdown.
But enticing more domestic tourists to visit Irish whiskey distilleries over the coming months will also be critical to secure their future viability. That’s according to Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey, the representative body for the Irish whiskey industry; who have today launched their IrishWhiskey360° “Get Back Into The Spirit” campaign to promote Irish whiskey tourism.
Commenting today (13.07.20), William Lavelle, Head of Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey, said: “Irish whiskey distilleries attracted over one million visitors last year, but 87 per cent 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 re-opened 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.”
New whiskey experiences
Mr. Lavelle said many distilleries and brand homes have introduced new visitor offerings and more intimate tourist 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,” he 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.”
Some of the distilleries and visitor centres that are reopening with new offerings include:

  • Clonakilty Distillery, Co. Cork, which is offering smaller, later tours on Friday and Saturday evenings to allow visitors to follow their tour with a meal in neighbouring restaurant, the Whale’s Tail.
  • Kilbeggan Distillery, Co. Westmeath, which is running smaller, more intimate tours, and have developed a new ‘Bottle Your Own’ experience, where visitors can bottle their own 10 year-old single malt cask exclusive to Kilbeggan Distillery.
  • Roe & Co. Distillery in Dublin, where groups of up to six people can experience a cocktail-making workshop, and visitors will have the opportunity to discover the five pillars of flavours in whiskey.
  • Tullamore Dew, Co. Offaly, which will be offering intimate-sized tours, and whiskey and food pairings.

Other distilleries that have opened or are due to open shortly include:

  • Teeling Whiskey Distillery, Newmarket, Dublin.
  • Powerscourt Distillery, Co. Wicklow.
  • Jameson Distillery, Bow Street, Dublin.
  • Jameson Distillery, Midleton. Co. Cork.
  • Pearse Lyons Distillery, James’s Street, Dublin.
  • Skellig Six18, Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry.

The Irish whiskey industry had a successful 2019 with 143 million bottles (nearly 12 million cases) of Irish whiskey sold globally, a doubling of sales since 2010, along with a record one million people visiting Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres.

Further information on the Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres that are now open is available at: www.irishwhiskey360.com.