The number of visitors to Irish whiskey distillery visitor centres reached 814,000 in 2017, according to figures published by the Irish Whiskey Association. This marked an increase of over 11 per cent from 2016, when 733,000 visitors were recorded. More significantly, it marks an increase of 25 per cent from 2015, when 653,000 visitors were recorded.
In 2017 Irish Whiskey Association members operated 12 distillery visitor centres on the island of Ireland. This included two new distillery visitor centres which opened during the year at Slane Distillery in Co. Meath and Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin.
2018 is likely to see the opening of further visitor centres at new whiskey distilleries in locations ranging from Clonakilty, to Drogheda, to Dublin 8. In total, Irish Whiskey Association members plan to open at least ten more visitor centres in the coming years. A new distillery visitor centre will open on the January 21 at Rademon Estate Distillery in Co. Down.
William Lavelle, Head of the Irish Whiskey Association stated: “Continued double-digit growth proves that Irish whiskey tourism is a hot trend right now and an increasingly important part of Ireland’s tourism offer. Whiskey tourism is delivering tourists, jobs and investment to local economies right across Ireland, from Dublin’s Liberties to rural communities.”
In 2018, the Irish Whiskey Association plans to develop and launch a major initiative to promote and further grow Irish whiskey tourism. This initiative was proposed in the Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy, which set a target of 1.9 visitors by 2025.
Lavelle explained: “Irish whiskey remains the fastest growing spirits category in the world. But whiskey consumers, both domestically and globally, are interested in knowing more about the origin and authenticity of the spirit. Increasingly, the promotion of a whiskey brand goes hand-in-hand with the promotion of the home distillery. For this reason, the promotion and advertising of Irish whiskey distillery visitor centres is often inseparable from the promotion and advertising of the Irish whiskey brands produced there.”