To paraphrase an Elvis Presley song from the 1960 movie G.I. Blues

Didj’a ever

Didj’a ever get

Didj’a ever get one

Didj’a ever get one of them

Didj’a ever get one of them bottles of Irish Gin that wasn’t quite what it appeared to be?’

Well if you did, you probably wouldn’t know, because no one in power gives a monkey’s fart about the G.I. for gin.

Irish gins on show at the Irish Embassy in London
Irish gins on show at the Irish Embassy in London

Let me back up and explain my G.I. Blues. In this case the ‘G.I.’ is a Geographical Indicator, a rule book laying out what makes a product unique. Normally it’s about geography and process; so for example if a sparkling wine from a region of France (geography) obeys certain rules (process), it can be called Champagne. While a sparkling wine from another EU country made in the same way, could never be called champagne. Sometimes as in the case of gin, the GI is just about process. A G.I. is backed by European legislation, so can be enforced not only in every EU country but across the globe.

Recently Irish Whiskey got its G.I. as did Irish Poteen, so if you want to make either of those products you need to be on the island of Ireland (geography) and follow a specified four-step production process before you can get validation. There are no exceptions. The G.I. is enforced by the divine trinity of the Department of Agriculture, Revenue and the FSAI. This is all good stuff. We need to protect the integrity of the category, and with all the new distilleries coming online we need to ensure that one idiot doesn’t undo all the good work.

Where's the gin?
Where’s the gin?

But what about gin?

What about the juice that (with a couple of honourable exceptions) is cash flowing almost every Irish start-up from Dingle to The Shed Distillery, to Glendalough, to Shortcross, to Blackwater? We now have some serious Irish gin brands, as good as any on the global stage and we need to ensure that one idiot doesn’t undo all the good work… and that’s where the G.I. comes in.

The one no one gives a monkey’s fart about? Yes, that one.

In the two years plus we have been in business do you know how often someone/anyone has come to audit or check us? To ensure we are sticking to the rules outlined in the G.I.? Never, that’s how often. So how can anyone be sure we’re doing what we say? In short, they can’t.

And every month more and more Irish gins come on the market. More and more monkeys fart and more and more idiots are born. So if the G.I. for gin is not being enforced, what’s to stop someone screwing it up for everyone?

What’s to stop someone from passing off a cheap compounded gin as a craft distilled product? Nothing. That’s why there’s already one in the market.

What’s there to help the consumer know what they are buying? Nothing. Most Irish Gin labels are not compliant with current legislation.

There’s even an ‘Irish Gin’ on the market that is made in England.

So with all that going on, what’s to stop an idiot cutting one corner too many in their rush to make a quick gin-flavoured buck? Nothing.

And if that aforementioned idiot does something colossally stupid, then most of us won’t ever have to worry about the G.I. for Irish Whiskey, as our cash flow will have gone the way of all monkey farts and taken our distilleries with it.