A new all-island roadmap published today (Monday, May 30) by the Irish Whiskey Association is aiming to make Irish distilleries the most sustainable in the world.

‘Irish Whiskey Sustainable Together’ outlines how the industry will reduce its environmental and carbon impact and strengthen its role in the regenerative and circular economy.

As Irish whiskey is of one of the leading all-island industries, the new roadmap is being supported by state agencies Enterprise Ireland and Invest NI.

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Some of the measure in the plan include:

  • Reducing water usage and delivering accredited water stewardship training for distilleries;
  • The Irish whiskey industry purchases over 100,000t of Irish barley and malt annually and the roadmap commits to buying even more from Irish farmers;
  • Every year, over 350,000t of co-products from Irish whiskey production (spent grain/pot ale) are reused to become high-quality animal feed and the roadmap commits to strengthening Irish whiskey’s place in the circular economy;
  • The roadmap proposes a signature project to support innovation on energy efficiency within the industry;
  • The plan also outlines support for tree planting in partnership with Trees on the Land.

Commenting on the publication of the roadmap, the director of the Irish Whiskey Association, William Lavelle, said:

“The roadmap is about an industry working together and sharing knowledge with a shared ambition to make Ireland the home of the world’s most sustainable distilleries.

“We are committed to minimising the life-cycle environmental impact of our production practices and our supply chains while maximising our support for Irish farming and local suppliers,” he continued.

“Some Irish whiskey distilleries will reach net-zero very quickly and through the knowledge transfer projects set-out in the roadmap we will support all distilleries to make the transition, particularly the two-thirds of our members who are SMEs.

“This is not just an environmental strategy. The roadmap also addresses the importance of economic and social sustainability,” Lavelle stated.

Recent research by Fáilte Ireland has shown that visitors to distilleries in 2019 spent €63 million in local communities.

Vacant buildings in 17 towns and villages across Ireland have been re-purposed for the development of distilleries.