New figures published today by the Irish Whiskey Association show that the number of visitors to Irish whiskey distillery visitor centres reached 814,000 in 2017.
This marked an increase of over 11% from 2016, when 733,000 visitors were recorded. More significantly, it marks an increase of 25% from 2015, when 653,000 visitors were recorded.
Currently, a majority of visitors to whiskey distilleries in Ireland come from the US, UK, Germany, France and Northern Europe.
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. A new distillery visitor centre will open on the 21st of January at Rademon Estate Distillery in Co. Down.
This year is also 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 10 more visitor centres in the coming years.
Furthermore, the Irish Whiskey Association also 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.
Speaking today, Head of the Irish Whiskey Association, William Lavelle said, "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."