Over the last two weeks, I have been asked a number of times whether it was legal to bottle Irish whiskey outside the geographic area of Ireland, and still call it Irish whiskey.
As such, I’ve decided to put together this article to explain just what is and is not legal when it comes to bottling Irish whiskey.
So the short answer to this question is Yes you can bottle Irish whiskey abroad assuming you meet the requirements set out by the Irish Whiskey Technical File.
Assuming an unadultered grain spirit has matured for a minimum of 3 years old in wood, in the geographic area of Ireland, this can now legally be qualified as ‘Irish whiskey’. This spirit can now either go on for further maturation or be disgorged and sent for bottling.
This bottling may take place in Ireland or abroad. When taking place abroad, the spirit must be shipped in inert bulk containers. This means that no maturation can take place in transit or in antoher geographic area other than the Island of Ireland.
Like in Ireland, when the whiskey is being cut to bottling strength, it must be demineralised for bottling. This is to protect the organoleptic qualities of the spirit and to ensure that no permanent flocculation takes place in the finished product, due to minerals in the cutting water.
Whether bottling on the island or abroad, Caramel Colouring E150a is the only additive that is allowed in Irish whiskey. Nothing else can be added at the time of bottling outside of E150a and water.
If a whiskey is bottled outside of the island of Ireland, then as per the Irish whiskey labelling guidelines, the label (usually back) should state the country of bottling.
Finally, it is very important to note once again that maturation for any period, outside of the island of Ireland, immediately disqualifies a spirit from being classified as “Irish whiskey”. Irish whiskey is an internationally protected category and product name and if you encounter any products that state that they have been matured in countries outside of Ireland, they are unfortuantely not genuine articles, and should be reported to the Irish Whiskey Association, who will work to protect the fantastic quality of Irish whiskey.