Almost 200 bottles of Irish Whiskey sold every minute as sales around the world skyrocket

Thursday, 29 June 2017


29th JUNE 2017 - Demand for Irish whiskey soared by 11.2% last year cementing its position as the world’s fastest growing spirit according to new figures published by International Wine and Spirits Research.

“Irish whiskey is experiencing exceptional growth around the world with almost 200 bottles being sold every minute. The leap in sales over the last year is a testament to the quality and craftsmanship of Irish whiskey distilleries around the island,” said William Lavelle, Head of the Irish Whiskey Association.

“The US is our most valuable market both in terms of exports and attracting Irish whiskey tourists. Volumes grew by 17.6% last year in the US alone, with sales reaching a record 43.92 million bottles.”

“Emerging markets are also key to Irish whiskey’s future. In Slovakia and Poland sales increased by nearly one quarter in a single year. In Kenya sales increased by an incredible 20% showing Irish whiskey’s worldwide appeal.”

“Already Irish whiskey accounts for more than one third of Irish beverage exports and these figures put Irish whiskey well on track to meet its ambitious export target of 144 million bottles by 2020 and 288 million bottles by 2030.”

Irish whiskey sales grew in 17 of its leading markets with the US, Ireland, France, the UK and South Africa leading global sales.

“Irish whiskey can only be made on the island of Ireland meaning that its success abroad has direct benefits for distillery towns around the country. A few years ago Ireland only had three whiskey distilleries whereas now there are 16 in operation or in development, in locations ranging from Dublin’s Liberties to rural communities in all four provinces,” added William Lavelle.

“In order to continue this highly positive growth in exports and job creation, Irish Whiskey producers also require a supportive domestic market. The new Public Health Alcohol Bill will puts that in jeopardy through a proposed series of stringent measures that would make Ireland amongst the most restricted countries in the world in terms of advertising and marketing for alcoholic products.”

“As we stand in the shadow of Brexit, we should not be imposing additional costs on homegrown business which this bill would do. In the context of Brexit, Ireland is also now 20% more expensive for UK visitors. It is no longer sustainable for Ireland to continue to impose the second highest level of excise tax on alcohol in the EU; and the third highest spirits excise tax. We are calling on the Government to actively get behind the growth of the Irish Whiskey to help grow Irish exports and jobs.”

The growth in Irish whiskey’s reputation is also expected to encourage more whiskey enthusiasts to travel to Ireland to witness first-hand how their favourite spirit is made.

1.9 million visitors are expected to visit Irish distilleries by 2025, spending an estimated €1.3 billion during their stay in Ireland bringing employment and income to rural communities around the island.

Notes to Editor:

Irish whiskey sales increased by 11.2 per cent from 93.6 million bottles to 104.4 million bottles in 2016, according to International Wine and Spirits Research. (Note: 12 bottles per 9 litre case)

The growth in sales is partly accounted for by a massive increase in exports in the US. In the US sales of Irish whiskey grew by 17.6% from 37.2 million bottles in 2015 to 43.92 million bottles.

There was also exceptionally high levels of growth in Slovakia (22.9%), Poland (22.5%) and Kenya (19.4%).

The top 5 markets for whiskey sales in 2016 were:
    US: 43.92 million bottles
    Ireland: 6.25 million bottles
    France: 4.57 million bottles
    UK: 4.09 million bottles
    South Africa: 4.26 million bottles

The Irish Whiskey Association is an all-island organisation and was established in 2014. It provides a forum for all operators, new and old, to come together to share expertise and cooperate in building the Irish whiskey category brand. The Irish Whiskey Association is part of ABFI (Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland), which is part of IBEC.

The Irish whiskey category is the fastest growing premium spirit in the world. Irish whiskey sales have increased by over 300% in the last 10 years accounting for more than one third of all Irish beverage exports. Exports of Irish whiskey are anticipated to double to 144 million bottles by 2020 and 288 million bottles by 2030.

There are currently sixteen working distilleries on the island of Ireland, with another 16 with planning permission. 1.9 million tourists are expected to pass through the doors of Irish whiskey distilleries by 2025.

One in four visitors to Irish distilleries are from the US and they are widely regarded as Ireland’s most valuable tourists. US tourists spend more per night than any other nationality and account for a quarter of the total spend by overseas visitors.

Every 55 international tourists that Irish whiskey helps to attract to Ireland has the potential to support one tourism job.

The Irish Whiskey Association’s mission is to:
    Promote the Irish whiskey category in Ireland and internationally, working with
    Government agencies and the European Commission.
    Support new market entrants.
    Protect the high standards of Irish whiskey by working with the relevant authorities to ensure that the legal protection offered by the geographic indication is applied in Ireland and internationally.
    Ensure public policy supports the sustainable growth of the Irish whiskey sector.

For further information contact:
Melanie McDonald, Red Flag (Dublin) +353 1 634 4534 / +353 86 047 4531