Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Act 2018

The Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Act 2018 was signed into law by the President on 22 July 2018. The Act came into force on 3 September 2018, write Maire Conneely, an Associate in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice at A&L Goodbody, and Constance Cassidy SC.

The Act creates a new licence called a “producer’s retail licence” which allows breweries and distilleries to sell alcohol to visitors. Breweries and distilleries that currently only have a manufacturing licence can now apply for a new licence that will allow them to sell alcohol on site to visitors.

The main points of the Act are:

  • The Act creates a new licence called a “producer’s retail licence”. Only alcohol manufactured on the premises can be sold under the new licence.
  • Alcohol can be sold for consumption either on and/or off the premises depending on which court grants the certificate for the licence. If the certificate is granted by the Circuit Court, alcohol can be sold for consumption either on or off the premises. Where the certificate is granted by the District Court, alcohol can only be sold for consumption off the premises.
  • Breweries and distilleries can only sell alcohol for consumption on the premises to visitors who take part in a tour of the premises. The tour must be a guided tour for which a ticket has been issued. The Act states that the tour does not need to be guided by another person. This allows for pre-recorded audio tours or self-guided tours as long as information about the manufacturing process is given.
  • Alcohol can also be sold to visitors who do not take a guided tour of the brewery or distillery but that alcohol cannot be consumed on the premises.
  • A brewery or distillery can sell alcohol manufactured at the brewery or distillery between 10a.m. and 7p.m. each day except Christmas Day to anyone taking a guided tour.
  • The additional hours on a Sunday morning will be welcomed by breweries and distilleries. Up to now, visitors to breweries and distilleries couldn’t buy the alcohol that they had seen manufactured if they visited the brewery or distillery before 12.30pm on a Sunday.
  • Alcohol can be sold to anyone not taking a guided tour of the premises between 10a.m. and 7p.m. Monday to Saturday and between 12.30a.m. and 7p.m. on Sundays and St. Patrick’s Day. No sales are permitted on Christmas Day.
  • It is an offence to sell alcohol or allow alcohol to be sold at a brewery or distillery without the necessary licence, or in breach of the licensing conditions. The penalty for doing so is a fine of €5,000.
  • The provisions of Part III of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1927 do not apply to a producer’s retail licence so the licence cannot be endorsed. This means that the provisions that can result in a licence being forfeited where there are three current convictions on the licence do not apply to a producer’s retail licence.

The new Act provides that once a producer’s retail licence is issued to a brewery or distillery, any other licence attached to the premises (aside from the manufacturing licence) will be extinguished.