Gin and whiskey may be booming - but vodka is still the country’s most popular spirit

Sales of spirits increased in Ireland last year – but they still lag beer and wine.

By Sarah Harford

VODKA REMAINS IRELAND’S top spirit, but gin and premium whiskey are becoming more popular with consumers.

This is according to a new market report from Ibec industry group, the Irish Spirits Association, which showed that sales of spirits in Ireland increased by 4.6% last year.

It added that much of the recent increase in sales has been driven by gin, which is Ireland’s fastest-growing spirit category.

Last year, gin sales were up by nearly half compared to the previous year, with similar increases recorded in both Irish and imported brands. 

Meanwhile, domestic whiskey sales grew by more than 10% last year, boosted by the increase in the number of distilleries in operation in the country and a 40% increase in sales of premium Irish whiskey.

Although vodka has retained its position as the most popular spirit with Irish consumers, sales fell marginally last year. Sales of brandy, rum, US whiskey, Scotch whisky and tequila also declined.

According to figures from Revenue, spirits had a 19.8% share of the market last year. This positions it as the third most popular drinks category in Ireland, after beer and wine.

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Exports

The report also highlighted that spirits are now one of the country’s leading agri-food export categories, with the value of spirits exports rising by 13.8% to nearly €1 billion last year.

Global sales of spirits protected by EU geographical indicators – Irish whiskey, Irish cream and poitín – were up by 7.4%.

The US is still the number-one destination for Irish spirit exports, followed by the UK, Canada, Germany and France.

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Patricia Callan, director of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), said that Irish spirits are “leading the way” at home and abroad, with Irish whiskey and cream liqueur now being sold in around 140 markets worldwide.

However, she warned that there are threats to the industry on the horizon, including Brexit, US trade tariffs, and tougher alcohol marketing and pricing laws currently making their way through the Oireachtas.

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