This week our Irish Whiskey News features articles on Irish consumers paying the second-highest tax on alcohol in the EU and why barley farmers need more government support.
So let’s see what’s happening this week in our Irish whiskey news.
Irish consumers pay the second-highest overall excise tax on alcohol in the EU: the highest on wine, the second-highest on beer, and third highest on spirits, a new survey shows. Despite its prominent drinks industry, Ireland ranks second in the ‘Big 4’ of EU excise tax on alcohol, behind Finland and ahead of Sweden and the UK, a new Drinks Industry Group of Ireland report, Excise Tax Rates in Europe: How Ireland Compares in 2019.
The Irish government levies a tax bill of €12 on a bottle of off-licence-bought Irish whiskey and 54 cents on a pint of Irish stout served at a pub, restaurant or hotel. In terms of excise tax, Italian tourists pay four times less excise on a bottle of Irish whiskey in an Italian supermarket than they would if purchasing it for the Irish distillery that produced it. In France and Germany, countries equally renowned for their drinks industries, excise tax rates on wine and beer are far lower. The report showed that a shopper in France pays just three cents in excise on a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, while a patron at a German beerhall pays five cents in excise on every pint of lager.
Agriland and Drinks Ireland met last week to discuss the policy of sourcing malted barley for the production of Irish whiskey from outside Ireland. “What I’d love to see is the Government to re-establish a tillage forum – or whatever you like to call it – but something that gives strategic intent to look at the sector equally with meat and dairy and that’s obviously a climate agenda item as well. Tillage is a quarter of the climate emissions of meat and dairy.”
Those were the words of Patricia Callan, who is the director of Drinks Ireland. Patricia was speaking to AgriLand as part of a panel discussion at the National Ploughing Championships last week on malting barley. However, the use of imported malt has become a real source of annoyance for malting barley growers, along with the fact that the Geographical Indication for Irish whiskey has no requirement for Irish ingredients to be included in the product.
Farmer Séamus Duggan was clearly frustrated by this: “We have this geographical indicator being put up as being the be-all and end-all for the Irish drinks industry going forward, but for me, they’re walking on very thin ice.” He added: “If you can put a 53-page document together and talk all about the manufacturing process and, as you said, the taste – it’s all very fine – but the core thing that should have been part of the geographical indicator has to be the ingredient. He continued: “For the drinks industry to say it’s fine, it’s made in Ireland; it’s made with pot stills and this is the process we use and that’s enough to call it Irish I think it’s very, very dangerous.”
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