Irish Whiskey renaissance rolls on with 22% increase in exports to the US in first half of 2017

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Latest figures from the CSO which point to a 22% increase in the value of whiskey exports to the United States in the first six months of 2017 have been hailed as phenomenal by the Irish Whiskey Association.

According to the CSO the value of Irish whiskey exports to the United States increased by 22% in the first six months of 2017, reaching €157 million in the first half of year.

Overall whiskey exports to all markets increased by 18.5%, and were valued at €256 million for the first six months of 2017."

Whiskey exports to Canada also increased by 31% in the first six months of the year. 

William Lavelle, head of the Irish Whiskey Association stated: “Irish whiskey is undergoing a renaissance. A few years ago, Ireland only had three whiskey distilleries. There are now 18 operating in locations ranging from Dublin’s Liberties to rural communities right across the country.”

 “The latest phenomenal growth figure confirms Irish whiskey as the world’s fastest growing spirits category and puts the Irish whiskey industry well on-target to reach our  goal of doubling sales to 12 million 9-litre cases, or 144 million bottles. by 2020.” 

The Irish Whiskey Association’s ‘Vision for Whiskey’ strategy set a goal of increasing exports of Irish whiskey from 6.7 million cases in 2014 to 12 million cases by 2020. Exports exceeded 8 million cases in 2016, meaning that overall, the sales of Irish whiskey in 2016 broke the 100 million bottle barrier for the first time. 

William Lavelle added: “Irish whiskey is proving to be star performer when it comes to exports from the broader Irish food and drink sector and is playing a leading role in delivering on the targets Government’s FoodWise 2025 strategy.”

“But we should not take this growth for granted. We are calling on Government to ensure that the promotion of Irish whiskey and spirits is kept front and centre of international trade promotion efforts by Ministers and state agencies and that the proposed provisions of the draft Alcohol Bill relating to advertising and labelling are reviewed and amended to protect competition, innovation and investment across the whiskey and sprits industry.”


Notes to Editor:

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:  
James Bradshaw, Red Flag (Dublin) +353 1 634 4533 / +353 86 836 0608