The Irish Whiskey Association in Dublin has launched a new campaign under the IrishWhiskey360° banner to encourage Irish staycationers and visitors to ‘Discover Ireland’s Whiskey Distilleries’.
Having been closed to visitors for more than a year due to the coronavirus lockdown, many whiskey distilleries in both parts of the island are once again opening their doors to offer a range of exciting and safe experiences from self-guided tours to outdoor tastings, cocktail experiences and other activities.
Several also operate restaurants for snacks and meals.
IrishWhiskey360° is an industry-led platform to promote Irish whiskey tourism, featuring 20 distilleries and brand homes with visitor experiences throughput the island.
The www.IrishWhiskey360.ie website has been relaunched with details and maps on distilleries and regions to visit. Irish whiskey is now being marketed increasingly on an all-island basis
The website also features seven new regional videos which will be promoted during the campaign on Discovering Ireland’s Whiskey Distilleries. Northern Ireland is featured in one of the sites.
The campaign sees digital advertising across the web and social media platforms along with additional print advertising.
The campaign has been supported by funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine under its agri-tourism measure grant scheme in the Republic. It is also being backed by Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland.
But two of the Northern Ireland distilleries, Old Bushmills in County Antrim, and Echlinville at Kircubbin in County Down have yet to reopen for visitors.
However, other prominent local distilleries such as Boatyard in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Hinch Distillery in Ballynahinch, County Down, Rademon Estate in Crossgar, Wild Atlantic, which is located near Strabane, Killowen in Rostrevor, and Symphonia Spirits in Moy, County Tyrone, are also now welcoming visitors again.
And Whitewater, the award-winning craft brewery in Castlewellan, in addition, is open for tours of its Brewhouse and purpose-built visitor centre.
Michael Morris, marketing director at Hinch, says: “Our tours are already proving immensely popular with local people and other visitors.
“The tours cover the whole production process for our award-winning whiskeys and Ninth Wave Irish Craft Gin and offer sampling opportunities.
“In addition, we have an excellent restaurant and an attractive courtyard for snacks and drinks.”
And David-Boyd Armstrong, founder of Shortcross Gin at Rademon Estate Distillery at Crossgar with wife Fiona, has also found their tour business growing steadily.
“We’ve changed the tours to offer new experiences and all with social distancing and other safety rules,” he said.
“We’re really pleased by the response since we opened our doors again,” he adds.
Though not included in the initiative, local cider processors such as Long Meadow in Loughgall and Armagh Cider Company also welcome tours.
To mark the start of the imaginative campaign, Charlie McConalogue, Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, announced the initiative during a recent visit to Powerscourt Distillery in County Wicklow.
Mr McConalogue said: “Ireland is at the forefront of a global whiskey revolution. From the raw materials produced by our world-class farmers to the brewing masters who approach their work guided by centuries of knowledge, our sector is truly best in class.
“As Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, I am very proud of our drinks sector and its constant desire to improve and innovate.
“I saw this first-hand at the Powerscourt Distillery, this amazing commitment to excellence.
“As a sector and as a country, we can be exceptionally proud of the distilling sector.”
And William Lavelle, head of the Irish Whiskey Association, which is part of IBEC and supported by Bord Bia, the Republic’s food and drink marketing agency, added: “Irish whiskey distilleries have developed a world-famous reputation as great places to visit.
“You can learn how Irish whiskey is made and have great fun along the way.
“Our distilleries have adapted to offer exciting and safe experiences, making them a must-stop location on any staycation or day-trip.
“Irish whiskey distilleries attracted over one million visitors in 2019 but that fell 88 per cent last year.
“We are hoping Irish visitors will support the distilleries on their doorstep by making them part of their summer staycation plans.”
As part of the campaign, IrishWhiskey360° has launched a new passport scheme.
The IrishWhiskey360° Passport is a unique record of a journey through extraordinary Irish whiskey distilleries where stamps can be collected at every distillery on the journey.
Rademon Estate Distillery, home to Shortcross Gin, launched a new single malt whiskey at last week’s Belfast Whiskey Week, the island’s biggest whiskey showcase.
Rademon Estate is currently made up of over 500 acres of land and dates to AD565, with the original estate house dating back to 1667.
The estate is steeped in history from Rademon House itself, through to the original courtyard, cottages, workers bell and the imposing obelisk.
Visitors to Hinch Distillery have a fabulous opportunity to see behind the scenes of the distilling operations at what is now among the biggest purpose-built distilleries on the island.
From the earliest design stage of the distillery build everything has been designed not only to produce world-class whiskey but to allow visitors an unprecedented up-close view of the whole process.
n Find out more about Irish whiskey by checking out websites:
n Boatyard www.boatyard.com
n Copeland www.copelanddistillery.com
n Hinch Distillery www.hinchdistillery.com
n Killowen www.killowendistillery.com
n Symphonia/Woodlab www.symphoniaspirits.com
n Rademon www.rademonestatedistillery.com
n Whitewater Brewery www.whitewaterbrewery.com
n Wild Atlantic Way www.wildatantic.ie