Whiskey produced in Ireland has been granted the legal protection of geographic indication status in India – the world’s largest whiskey market.

The protection, granted by the Indian government, means that only whiskies produced in Ireland can use the phrase ‘Irish whiskey’ on their labels.

The development is being described as a “vital tool in supporting the future growth of Irish whiskey in the world’s largest whiskey market”.

It means Irish whiskey can fully compete against other whiskies by reinforcing the authenticity of the product for the Indian consumer.

2.3 billion bottles of whiskey were sold in India in 2018, making it the world’s largest market for the spirit.

Though the vast majority of this is domestically produced, sales of Irish whiskey doubled to 34,000 cases last year, and the Irish product is “competing at premium level with other international whiskey categories”, according to Drinks Ireland / Irish Whiskey Association, the group which lodged the application with the Indian authorities for the status.

Carleen Madigan, the legal advisor for Drinks Ireland / Irish Whiskey Association, said: “Securing the geographical indication for Irish whiskey in India is another landmark for the Irish whiskey category.

Like similar registrations achieved earlier in the year in Australia and South Africa, this is another major success in our efforts to protect the integrity of Irish whiskey on a worldwide basis.

“We will now be able to take much tougher enforcement action against fake Irish whiskey products on sale in India,” she underlined.

Concluding her comments, Madigan said: “This protection will also enable us to maximise opportunities to increase sales in this crucial whiskey market, as it is an important selling point for the Indian consumer, knowing they can enjoy Irish whiskey confident in the quality and authenticity of the product.”