The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has recently introduced new regulations which will provide greater protection to certain Irish spirits. Currently, Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Irish Poitín are protected by geographical indication status at European level. This means that they can only be produced on the island of Ireland and in accordance with strict technical specifications.

The European Communities (Spirits Drinks) Regulations 2015 (the “Regulations”) introduce enforcement procedures to ensure that any spirits which are labelled with the protected designation are manufactured in accordance with the technical specifications submitted to the EU Commission.

The Regulations will become effective from 30 October 2015. The delay in implementation of the Regulations is to allow producers to apply for verification of their products in the interim. Annual verification checks will be carried out to ensure that Irish distillers meet the required specifications. These will continue for the first three years and review of the verification system will take place after 2018.

Authorised officials will have the power to inspect production methods and remove any products which do not comply with the Regulations from the market. The relevant authority may also recover its costs from the producer. A person who commits an offence under the Regulations is liable to a fine or possible imprisonment.   

The Regulations will ensure greater protection for consumers and are good news for producers, whose products already meet the relevant technical specifications.