What are the Irish Whiskey Technical File and its GI? And Why are they Important?

Regularly you will hear from Potstilled Radio & TikTok as well as a host other Irish whiskey commentators speaking about the “Irish Whiskey Technical File and the EU GI“, but what exactly are these documents, and why are they important?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that these were household terms, especially in the current climate of an impending public consultation period on the definition of these very topics.

The Irish Whiskey Technical File is a government document that sets out the geographic boundaries of production for Irish whiskey as well as setting out the systems and materials used in production of Irish whiskey or any of its sub-categories, such as; Single Malt Irish Whiskey, Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, Single Grain Irish Whiskey, or Blended Irish Whiskey.

The Technical File was submitted to the European Commission on the 30th of October 2014 and was ratified on the 24th of March 2019. This legally ingrained the definition of Irish whiskey and it’s sub-categories in EU law.

Generally, Technical Files demonstrate the geographic links with the country or region of origin where a product or category or products are produced. This also includes details of what mechanisms are required for a product to be classified as a category, such as “Irish whiskey”.

A G.I. or a Geographical Indication is a collective protection for both producers and consumers, which is awarded by the EU, stating that the products under the GI adhere to the specific requirements for that category. G.I.’s are awarded to celebrate production in a specific geographic area and to highlight traditional production practices.

This helps consumers by ensuring that the products they consume are produced to a stringent and high standards level, ensuring authenticity, quality and distinctiveness. Ultimately ensuring that the consumers’ expectations are met and upheld for the category that they are purchasing from.

The G.I. helps producers by protecting against competitors trying to exploit their category reputation and producers’ know-how developed to produce genuine high-quality products. The EU enforces and protects these G.I.s across the EU and multilaterally with countries that it signs trade agreements with, for instance, China, Japan and Australia, who all uphold the Irish Whiskey G.I. in their own countries.

The requirements that are outlined for the Irish Whiskey GI, are set out in the Irish Whiskey Technical File. Producers must meet the requirements for Irish Whiskey and any of its subsequent sub-categories, if they wish to trade on the reputation of Irish Whiskey or any category there of, such as Malt, Pot Still, Grain or Blends.

Overall, the Technical File informs the EU as to what defines Irish Whiskey and its sub-categories. These definitions are then enshrined by the EU and enforced by the EU’s G.I.s, across the globe. As such, what exactly is the definition of each of these sub-categories becomes incredibly important to the Irish Whiskey industry and its consumers.

This is why you will see many articles, podcasts and other social media posts in the coming months from Potstilled encouraging the public to have their voices heard in the impending public consultation period. This consultation period is regarding the definition of Single Pot Still Whiskey as it is enshrined in the Technical File and if it needs to change. Should you want to learn more about this topic, click here.

If you want to deep dive into the Irish Whiskey Technical File itself, click here. The definition of Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey is on page 6 & 7.

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