The geographical indication (GI) status of Irish poitin has been recognised in Japan according to Drinks Ireland|Spirits. This will provide improved protection and opportunities for Irish producers to expand exports to the world’s third-largest economy, which has a GDP of $5.6 trillion.
The recognition is based on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and Japan. This came into effect in February of last year. To honor the bilateral trade agreement’s second anniversary, each side offered 28 more GIs protection starting in February 2021.
Protected EU geographical indications designation has been granted to Irish whiskey, Irish cream, and now poitin.
This means they can only be produced lawfully within Ireland. It’s in accordance with a technical file that has been approved to safeguard them against counterfeiting.
Vincent McGovern is the head of Drinks Ireland|Spirits. He has stated that Ireland’s GI spirits exports have increased dramatically in recent years. They increased by 5.95 per cent between 2018 and 2019; from 18.5 million nine-litre cases to 19.6 million nine-litre cases. Exports of Ireland’s three protected spirits have surged by 34.2 per cent since 2014.
Irish whiskey and Irish cream liqueur have led this rise, but Irish poitin makers also expect to experience a growth in sales in the coming years. This is partly due to the special benefits of having GI status.
Premium spirits have been growing in popularity in Japan in recent years. While premium gin and whiskey have benefited the most so far, this expansion opens up more options for Irish producers in general.
Irish cream liqueur and Irish whiskey are already protected in Japan but independent Irish poitin producers will welcome their newfound GI status.
The post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and Japan, according to UK International Development Secretary Liz Truss, may also boost NI poitin producers.
While the Japanese demand for poteen has yet to be properly tested, many believe the spirit’s cultural background will help it continue to grow in popularity.
Shochu is a distilled spirit from Japan similar to poitin in that it is typically clear and can be made from a variety of raw materials. It is most commonly distilled from barley, rice, sweet potatoes, or buckwheat. Barley is used to make more than half of all shochu, making it the best choice. However, the production method for shochu is significantly more complicated than that for poitin. There are a variety of styles dependent on whether it is distilled once or numerous times. It can also be fermented with mould or aged in wood like a whisky.
Shochu has a low alcohol content for a distilled spirit, averaging around 60 proof. This makes it easier to consume and has fewer calories than vodka for example.