An all-island initiative, the roadmap lays out a pathway to making the island of Ireland ‘home to the world’s most sustainable distilleries and whiskey brands’.

The roadmap, which is named ‘Irish Whiskey Sustainable Together’, was launched at Tullamore Distillery, producers of Tullamore D.E.W., by Irish Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Senator Pippa Hackett on May 30.

Hackett, who is a member of the Irish Green Party, placed the initiative within the wider context of sustainability programs in Ireland.

“‘Food Vision 2030’ underlines the importance and interconnectedness of sustainability in all its dimensions – economic, social and environmental,” Hackett said.

“‘The Origin Green’ programme reflects the increasing focus from trade customers of Irish food and drink on delivering proof of sustainability at every stage of the food supply chain.”

“This Roadmap is therefore very timely. I congratulate the Irish Whiskey Association on the development of this Sustainability Roadmap for their members, and look forward to seeing it progress,” Hackett continued.

Direct of the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA), William Lavelle, also commented on the launch of the roadmap.

“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,” Lavelle said.

The roadmap contains several flagship objectives, including the reduction of water usage through ‘bespoke training days’, the planting of new oak trees, increased energy efficiency and a greater commitment to ‘the circular economy’ by reusing distilling by-products in agriculture.

Lavelle claimed that the ‘Irish Whiskey Sustainable Together’ plan will see some Irish whiskey distilleries rapidly achieve their emissions targets.

“This roadmap will actively support the delivery of national climate targets. 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 [small and medium-sized enterprises].”

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

Indeed, the roadmap demonstrated the positive social impact that Irish whiskey distilling has had – highlighting that the visitors to distilleries in 2019 spent €63m ($94m) in local communities, and that ‘Vacant buildings in 17 towns and villages across Ireland have been re-purposed for the development of distilleries.’

The IWA also noted that although historically dominated by men, the gender balance of the Irish whiskey industry was improving, approaching a 60/40 split between men and women.

“People and place have been at the heart of Irish whiskey’s renaissance and our industry is proud of how we support communities and local economies across the island of Ireland,” Lavelle concluded.

Cross-border support is a key aspect of this project, with Jeremy Fitch, the Executive Director of Business Growth with Invest Northern Ireland, also commenting: “Invest NI recognises the increasing significance of the green economy as a key driver of growth and prosperity, and an ambition across businesses to drive a greener, more sustainable economy.”

“We’re delighted to support the launch of the Irish Whiskey Association’s roadmap today. We look forward to working together to help it deliver the roadmap’s green economic objectives, supporting innovation, efficiencies and environmental impact across the industry,” Fitch said.

The full ‘Irish Whiskey Sustainable Together’ roadmap can be accessed here.

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