The Irish Whiskey Industry

The Irish whiskey industry

Ireland is the home of whiskey! Irish Whiskey has been distilled in Ireland since the 6th century and is one of the oldest spirit drinks in Europe. It has deep roots in Ireland and is a product of which we can be proud.

Industry investment and consequent production grew rapidly in the late 18th century. At its height in the mid-19th century 88 licenced distilleries, producing more than 12m 9-litre cases annually, made Irish Whiskey the largest global spirits category of the time. However a combination of events led to the industry's demise and by the mid-1980s only two Irish whiskey distilleries remained, both owned by Irish Distillers. Scotch, Bourbon, and Canadian whiskey had all surged and left Irish volumes far behind at about 1% of global sales.

The late 1980s marked the beginning of Irish Whiskey’s comeback. In 1988, Irish Distillers (IDL) became a member of Group Pernod Ricard, which provided massive distribution opportunities for Jameson, and the other IDL Irish whiskey brands, through its well-established global sales network. In 1987, Cooley Distillery was established and was the first independent distillery to begin distilling Irish Whiskey in over 100 years

However, in 2010, there were still only four distilleries in Ireland in operation producing and selling Irish Whiskey:
Cooley Distillery (est 1987)
Kilbeggan Distillery (est 1757, re-commissioned 2007)
New Midleton Distillery (est 1975)
Old Bushmills Distillery (est 1784)

However, by Decembers 2019 the number of operational whiskey distilleries in Ireland had increased to 32, demonstrating the scale of Ireland's Whiskey Renaissance

The growth in distilleries has been matched by explosion in global sales, rising from c. 6 million cases (72 million bottles) in in 2010 to 12 million cases (144 million bottles) in January 2020.

Exports of Irish whiskey were worth over €1 billion to the all-island economy in 2020.