ABG, established in 1900, has grown from its original core production business in the pan-Baltic region to a global spirits industry player with around 2,000 employees in almost 20 companies in the Baltic States, Austria, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Russia, Mexico and the UK.
Walsh Whiskey was founded in 1999 by husband-and-wife team Bernard and Rosemary Walsh, who’ve two multi-award-winning brands in The Irishman and Writers’ Tears which are sold in over 50 countries.
With ABG’s current reach into 185 countries, these Super Premium brands are likely to expand still further geographically.
This is a strategically significant move for ABG too as it’s ABV’s first entry into the fast-growing Irish whiskey sector – a category that has outstripped all other spirits categories for over a decade, enjoying buoyant sales growth.
The Irishman, the original brand, is a suite of nine single malt-led whiskeys. Writers’ Tears is a range of eight pot-still-focused whiskeys. Both brands join the ABG core brands portfolio and Bernard continues as Managing Director.
“Given the underlying strengths of our brands and of the long-term trajectory of Irish whiskey this is a logical next step for us” commented Bernard, “providing a means of scaling-up the business so that a greater number of consumers have the opportunity to participate in the search for the perfect drop or ‘taoscán’ of whiskey.
“I will continue to oversee all aspects of the business and in particular the development and production of our whiskeys, ensuring continuity of the same flavour profiles and high standards that have been the foundation of our success.”
ABG Chief Executive Jekaterina Stuģe added, “This is a major step for us as a company. We already own and bottle 100 brands as well as distributing and selling more than 1,300 third-party brands. This is the first time we’ve entered into the whiskey sector and we’re particularly pleased that ABG is now part of the consistently high-growth story that is the Super-Premium end of the Irish whiskey market.”
The whisky sector worldwide was valued in 2020 at €58.4 billion with the highest sector growth within the category coming from Irish Whiskey.
According to the Irish Whiskey Association the category saw 140% growth between 2010 and 2020, equating to an average Compound Annual Growth Rate of 9.1%.
With Irish whiskey now sold in over 140 countries, drinks industry analyst IWSR projects that Irish whiskey sales will grow by 33% from 2020 to 2024. It forecasts that after slipping to 11.4 million cases last year, it will reach 11.9 million in 2021. From there it’s expected to continue to grow, recording sales of 13.1 million next year, 14.2 million in 2023 and 15.3 million cases in 2024.