Sales of Irish whiskey continue to grow as consumers stump up for premium brands

Jameson remains the most popular Irish whiskey brand.

By Sarah Harford

IRISH WHISKEY IS continuing to grow in popularity, with global sales increasing by 6% last year to 6.4 million bottles.

According to the latest figures from the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA), domestic sales of premium Irish whiskey grew by 41% to over 700,000 bottles in 2017.

However, Jameson remains Ireland’s most popular brand, with sales up by 10.2%, while Bushmills, Teelings, Tullamore Dew, Knappogue Castle and Writers Tears also showed strong growth.

William Lavelle, head of the IWA, said that these figures show a change in consumer sentiment.

“We are seeing a major shift away from low-price, high-volume consumption as consumers are increasingly willing to pay for quality, innovative premium products,” he said.

“We are particularly seeing significant innovation in the use of different casks to finish Irish whiskeys. This is giving consumers a rich variety of unique, premium products which is driving interest in the Irish whiskey category and boosting sales of premium brand lines.”

However, Lavelle added that labelling provisions in the Public Health Alcohol Bill could damage “the prestige and presentation of premium brands”, hampering future growth.

Distillery growth

Last month, the IWA outlined its plans to more than double global sales of Irish whiskey by 2030.

The association said that domestic and international demand has led to a growth in the number of distilleries in Ireland. In 2014, there were four distilleries in the country but this is expected to surpass 30 by 2020.

This development is also providing a boost to tourism, with visitor numbers to Irish whiskey distilleries growing to 814,000 in 2017 – up 11% compared to 2016′s tally.

DLD 5 Dublin Liberties Distillery
Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Today, the Dublin Liberties Whiskey Company announced that it is opening its new craft distillery in October.

Located on Old Mill Street in Dublin’s Liberties, the distillery will produce a range of whiskies, including premium spirits such as The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey.

The site will also feature a bar and visitor centre, and is targeting 80,000 visitors in its first year.

Earlier this month, a new €10 million investment fund was launched that will be dedicated to investing in Irish whiskey distilleries and businesses.

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