An artist's impression of the new visitor centre at the Shed Distillery.
The Irish Whiskey Association’s North West Regional Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy was launched by the Minister for Rural & Community Development Michael Ring yesterday, Friday at Connacht Irish Whiskey Distillery in Ballina, Co Mayo.
The Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy will work with growing number of distilleries around the North West to attract thousands more tourists to the region.
Minister Ring said, “I am very pleased on behalf of the Government to launch the North West Regional Irish Whiskey Association Tourism Strategy which aims to attract 1.9 million tourists to distillery towns around Ireland by 2025.”
“Whiskey tourism has the potential to play a very valuable role in rural and community development around the country, delivering €1.3 billion to rural and urban communities all over Ireland every year and creating hundreds of jobs.”
A few years ago there were no distilleries operating in the North West. Now there are two and soon there will be four operating across Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo.
“Irish distilleries are positioning themselves as key tourist attractions and will attract tens of thousands of foreign visitors to the North West bringing vital revenue and up to 100 jobs to Leitrim and the region,” the head of the Irish Whiskey Association William Lavelle said.
“We believe that distilleries in the North West have the potential to exceed the target of 135,000 visitors and play an integral role in making Ireland the world’s number one whiskey tourism destination by 2025.”
Recognising the potential of Irish whiskey tourism, Connacht Irish Whiskey in Ballina opened its visitor centre in July 2016. The Shed Distillery of PJ Rigney in Drumshanbo and Lough Gill Distillery in Hazelwood House, Sligo plan to open their visitor centres in early 2018 and Sliabh Liag Distillery in Carrick recently received planning permission for a distillery and visitor centre.
“It is an exciting time for Irish whiskey in the North West. In December, the first whiskey distilled in Connacht in more than 100 years will be ready, which is a real milestone for region,” William added.
“Irish whiskey is performing exceptionally well abroad with exports growing by 18.6% in the first six months of 2017. The Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy aims to create a comprehensive tourism offering to attract whiskey enthusiasts from around the globe to distilleries in the North West.”