Here’s a radical thought.

As craft distillers have more in common with craft brewers and cider makers than with multi-national distilleries – is it time for the producers of Irish ‘craft’ alcoholic products to come together as one pressure group?


The Distiller and the Brewer can be friends.
The Distiller and the Brewer can be friends.

Right now we all sit in different parts of the fridge. You know beer on the door, cider at the back and gin in the ice box with the peas. It’s all a bit sectarian and the last thing we need is yet another organisation, this time representing one-legged distillers who have been to Greece on their holidays.

I mean look at some of the issues we all face.

1. Crafty Provenance

While the big boy distillers have shiny new copper fastened GIs to protect their interests and the beer giants have office blocks full of lawyers; native distillers, cider makers and brewers are left in Dodge City to shoot it out with the Provenance Cowboys. Mostly (but not exclusively) these are brand owners whose beer isn’t made in the town mentioned on the label, sometimes it’s not even made in the country. Their whiskey isn’t made where the label would lead you to believe and they don’t own a distillery.

So as a consumer how can you tell where a product is made and by whom? In short, you can’t. That’s how the Provenance Cowboys work, they ride into town on the long swishy coattails of genuine brewers and distillers with their smoke and mirrors and piss us all off.

Do we all want to sort this issue out? Yes.

2. Licencing Laws

I’ve touched on this before, how tourists can’t buy from a craft brewer, cider maker or distiller unless they have a €70,000 pub licence. It’s also the same stupid legislation that prevents brewers and distillers from opening a pop-up for Christmas or selling drinks online.

Do we want updated licencing laws that allow a craft brewer/distiller/cider maker to sell what they make where they make it? Yup. OK, how about special one-off licences that can be attached to a venue (farmers market) or outlet (pop-up shop) – so we can sell at these locations directly to the public? Let’s have a show of hands. Yup again.

3. Duty break

This one brewers already get – but distillers? No. As for the poor bloody cider makers!

So you see, none of these issues affects any multi-national – but every small brewer, cider maker and distiller wrestles with them every day. I am sure there are more than 3, but the coffee machine is bust so don’t expect in-depth research from someone suffering from caffeine withdrawal.

But before I have yet another cup of tea here’s a thought: why should the type of alcohol we make determine which part of the fridge we sit in?

It’s just a question. But it’s not a bad one. Now where’s the bloody tea…