The European Commission has approved a geographical indication (GI) protecting the methods of producing Irish whiskey.
The Irish government submitted a technical file outlining specifications for producing spirits that can be sold as ‘Irish whiskey’ in October 2014.
On April 2, the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) announcedthat the Commission had granted the GI.
The European Commission has posted a page on its website outlining the characteristics of the spirit.
The GI has been registered for products labelled as ‘Irish whiskey’ or ‘Irish whisky’, as well as the Irish language name ‘uisce beatha Eireannach’.
Variations covered by the GI include ‘Pot Still Irish Whiskey’, ‘Malt Irish Whiskey’, ‘Grain Irish Whiskey’ and ‘Blended Irish Whiskey’.
According to the technical file, all variations of Irish whiskey must be produced on the island of Ireland.
The GI also specifies detailed production methods for the brewing, fermentation, distillation, maturation and bottling stages.
Irish whiskey must be matured in wooden casks for at least three years. Bottling may take place outside the island of Ireland as long as it is subject to “company controls and official verification”.
According to the Irish government’s submission, Irish whiskey has been produced in some form on the island since the 6th Century. The unique characteristics of ‘uisce beatha’ have “not changed over the years”, the file said.
The IWA hailed news of the GI’s registration as a “momentous achievement which will protect the traditions and high standards of Irish whiskey”.