Irish whiskey produced in Northern Ireland after Brexit to have 'Product of Ireland' status

British Minister of State George Eustice has given the commitment

Irish whiskey produced in Northern Ireland after Brexit to have 'Product of Ireland' status

File photo

Irish whiskey, Irish cream liqueur and poitín produced in Northern Ireland after Brexit will feature a 'Product of Ireland' label.

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) has welcomed a commitment by the UK government to protect the all-island geographic indications (GIs) for these products.

London is introducing a legal framework for GIs in the UK post-Brexit.

In a letter to ABFI, the British Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, George Eustice, made a commitment to protect these three GIs and to preserve 'Product of Ireland' status for them if they are produced in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

Irish whiskey, Irish cream liqueur and poitín are protected at an EU level - similar to Champagne in France or Parma ham in Italy.

This means they must be produced on the island of Ireland, in accordance with certain production practices and standards.

As this protection covers the 'island of Ireland', currently these products can be made in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

In his response to ABFI, Mr Eustice said the UK will "incorporate relevant EU legislation into domestic law and enable us to make operability changes, providing us with the legal means to make sure that all UK GIs including the three trans-border spirits drink (sic), are fully protected in the UK.

"This legal framework will ensure Irish whiskey, Irish cream and Irish poitín will continue to be recognised and enforced in Northern Ireland after we leave the EU."

He also confirmed that "converting EU legislation into domestic law will not place any new restrictions on the use of 'Product of Ireland' for trans-border spirits drinks GIs."

A copy of the letter from British Minister of State George Eustice | Image: Supplied to Newstalk.com

It is estimated that in 2018 nearly 250,000,000 bottles of Irish GI spirits will be sold globally, representing over €1bn in exports from the island of Ireland.

Responding to the letter Patricia Callan, director of ABFI, said: "We welcome the commitment of the UK Government to protect the all-island GIs by introducing a legal framework for GIs in the UK post-Brexit and preserving ‘Product of Ireland’ status for spirits produced in Northern Ireland."

While the ABFI is calling for further commitments to be made to protect all-island GI spirits in future UK trade agreements.

Ms Callan added: "We do not want the EU and UK making trade agreements with third countries, where one agreement protects our all-island GI spirits and the other doesn’t.

"That could lead to legal uncertainty in those third countries regarding the status of these GIs.

"It could also potentially make protection against counterfeit products in those markets even more difficult."