According to new figures published by the Irish Whiskey Association, the number of visitors to Irish whiskey distillery visitor centres reached 814,000 in 2017. This marks an increase of over 11% from 2016, which saw 733,000 visitors. In 2015, 653,000 visitors were recorded. The Irish Whiskey Association published the Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy in 2015 to support this growth.

Two new distillery visitor centres opened during 2017 at Slane Distillery in Co. Meath and Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin, with another new distillery visitor centre due to open this month at Rademon Estate Distillery in Co. Down.

2018 is also likely to see further visitor centres opening at new whiskey distilleries in locations ranging from Clonakilty, to Drogheda, to Dublin 8. Irish Whiskey Association members plan to open at least 10 more visitor centres in the coming years.

Currently, a majority of visitors to whiskey distilleries in Ireland come from the US, UK, Germany, France and Northern Europe.

William Lavelle, Head of the Irish Whiskey Association said “Continued double-digit growth proves that Irish whiskey tourism is a hot trend right now and an increasingly important part of Ireland’s tourism offer. Whiskey tourism is delivering tourists, jobs and investment to local economies right across Ireland, from Dublin’s Liberties to rural communities.”

The Irish Whiskey Association plans to develop and launch a major initiative to promote and further grow Irish whiskey tourism in 2018. This initiative was proposed in the Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy, which set a target of 1.9 million visitors by 2025.