Marketing

Irish Whiskey – a growing world of Limited Editions

It's expected that any on-trade loss in Irish whiskey sales incurred during Covid will be speedily re-established globally. Here, Irish whiskey is the second most popular sprits category after vodka, representing over a quarter of all spirits sales. In our Industry Report this month we take a look at the Irish whiskey market, the on-trade and the proliferation of Premium & Limited Editions.

As Irish whiskey distilleries find their feet following Lockdown, it’s expected that any on-trade loss in sales incurred during Covid will be speedily re-established globally. According to IWSR figures, global sales of Irish whiskey were up 21.5% in 2021, rising from 11.5 million cases to just over 14 million cases.

The US was responsible for the Lion’s Share of this (41% of all sales of Irish whiskey) at 5.8 million cases, up 15% last year and now 66% the size of the Scotch market there.

US sales of Irish whiskey were 59% of Scotch sales in 2020. They accounted for 44% of them in 2016.

With such momentum, sales of Irish whiskey in the US are likely to ovetake Scotch sales before 2030.

But at 717,000 cases Russia took a surprise second place in overseas sales of the product, knocking the UK – with sales of 644,000 cases – into third position.

In other encouraging signs for Irish whiskey, France, once Irish whiskey’s largest market, recorded growth of 12% in 2021 following many years of being more or less dormant on the market there.

US sales of Irish whiskey were 59% of Scotch sales in 2020. They accounted for 44% of them in 2016.

With such momentum, sales of Irish whiskey in the US are likely to ovetake Scotch sales before 2030.

But at 717,000 cases Russia took a surprise second place in overseas sales of the product, knocking the UK – with sales of 644,000 cases – into third position.

In other encouraging signs for Irish whiskey, France, once Irish whiskey’s largest market, recorded growth of 12% in 2021 following many years of being more or less dormant on the market there.

Thanks to the sophistication and complexity of blended Irish whiskeys, Ireland can distil a variety of whiskey styles and mature them in many different barrel types.

This will prove useful.

The IWSR has pointed out that brand owners will need to sharpen their focus on value in order to generate meaningful growth in the future and IWSR data show that spirits are uniquely well-equipped to drive Premiumisation through higher-priced products.

“The upward trend for premium-plus spirits in North America has been very significant throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Emily Neill, IWSR’s Chief Operating Officer for Research & Operations, “Now it’s a question of how long that will continue, depending on the strength of the US economy. There’s quite a lot of uncertainty at the moment but we’re still seeing plenty of demand for products such as high-end tequila and whisky.”

In order to provide the market a value-added product with its own USP, many of the country’s distilleries are introducing limited-editions to a receptive consumer who’ll likely be younger than you’d think.

While it went through a period of repose in the 80s, Irish whiskey is now the fastest-growing spirit in the world. As a result, the number of distilleries here has increased from just two to over 40 today.

Irish market

Here, Irish whiskey sold around 620,000 cases last year and is the second-most-popular sprits category after vodka, representing over a quarter of all spirits sales.

Irish whiskey’s recovery has been complete, with sales here in 2021 running to just under 5% over 2020’s domestic sales volume figure and coming in above its 2019 figure of 590,000 cases.

The prioritisation of value is likely to remain a dominant trend for beverage alcohol brand owners in the years to come as consumers visiting pubs and off-licences today seek Premium product.

“A lot of the growth across all TBA will come from premiumisation,” predicts the report. Irish bar owners and suppliers take note….

Titanic Distillers

 This year promises to be huge for Titanic Distillers.  Not only has the company secured one of the most globally-recognised brand names but it’s also based in the famous Titanic Quarter of Belfast and has plans to convert the historic Titanic Pump-House and Thompson Dock into a new distillery and world class tourist attraction.

Our desire is to craft world class spirits that honour the heritage of the great ship, ship-builders and the city of Belfast.

The whiskey we want to share – Titanic Distillers Premium Irish Whiskey – is a measure of pride.

It took great skill and artistry to create this whiskey, to balance its complexity – yet ensure it’s simple to appreciate and savour, to blend the light sweet Vanilla notes of Irish grain whiskies with the rich, deep, spice of triple-distilled Malts, to round everything out with a hint of peat smoke and a long lingering finish. We made the whiskey we want to enjoy after a long, hard day.

Titanic Distillers is inspired by the people who worked in Belfast’s shipyard more than a century ago – and now tourists will be able to walk in their footsteps in the very pump-house and dry dock that represent such an authentic part of the Titanic story and indeed the history of Belfast.

 

 

 

 

Q&As with Titanic Distillers’ Founder & Commercial Director, Stephen Symington

How many people work at the distillery?

Through the redevelopment project of our distillery at Thompson Dock and in partnership with our stakeholders and Invest Northern Ireland, we’ll be creating 41 new jobs in Belfast.  This is on top of the team already in place across Sales, Marketing, Production and Finance.

 

When will the Distillery be open to the public and what can people expect when they visit the Distillery?

The distillery will open its doors in Autumn 2022. Titanic Distillers is inspired by the people who worked in Belfast’s shipyard more than a century ago – and now locals and tourists alike will be able to walk in their footsteps in the very pump-house and dry dock that represent such an authentic part of the Titanic story – and indeed the history of Belfast. Visitors to the Pump-House will view the workings of the distillery and hear the story of Belfast’s whiskey tradition, why it disappeared and how it has returned with the city’s first working whiskey distillery in nearly 100 years. In the days before Prohibition, Belfast was once the largest producer of Irish Whiskey on the island of Ireland – whiskey has played an important part in the history of Belfast City. This is a revival of the great distilling tradition and brings Belfast back to the forefront of Irish whiskey production while at the same time telling the story of a glorious past when Belfast led the way globally – not just in shipbuilding but across many areas of industry, manufacturing and innovation.

How do you plan to build and grow on your brand reputation in the future?

We’ll continue to build on what we’ve started. Our new home at Thompson Dock will provide a really credible base for the brand, where consumers can come and hear the stories that have inspired our journey and the work that goes into making our whiskey.  We’ll continue to build the brand through our Island-of-Ireland distributor United Wines – and educate consumers and trade through our Brand Advocacy programme, managed by our team of Brand Ambassadors.  The key to success in this category is getting liquid onto lips, so sampling is at the heart of our marketing strategy.

How do you see the future for Titanic Distillers? And what role will Titanic Distillers Whiskey play in this?

We’re very excited about the future of the brand. It’s been a whirlwind journey in a very short space of time and we’re incredibly proud of what the team has achieved, including two award-winning liquids! Once the Distillery is open, our focus will of course remain on providing excellence in hospitality – but it will also allow us time to focus on the future product direction and innovation strategy for the brand which is pivotal to the category. While we’ve moved into the White Spirits category with the recent launch of our Titanic Distillers Premium Irish Vodka, we will always remain a whiskey-focused brand; that will be the primary focus of the distillery and will be central to all our development plans both in the home markets and abroad.

Grace O’Malley

Grace O’Malley Whiskey is named after the legendary 16th Century Irish pirate queen, born in County Mayo in 1530.

This whiskey embodies her charismatic nature and timeless character. A natural clan leader and fearless seafarer, Grace O’Malley was not only a daring deal-maker but a ground-breaking provocateur.

Undeterred to go against the grain, Grace’s warrior spirit lives on.

Grace O’Malley Irish Whiskey is a unique blend of triple- and double-distilled Single Malt and grain whiskeys. Each batch is matured to perfection in specially-selected French Oak, rum and American Bourbon casks which give our whiskeys a unique character that pushes the boundaries of flavour.

Our high Single Malt content results in a whiskey of true quality – a perfect balance of fruitiness, complexity and smoothness beyond its years.

Tasting notes: Nose: Caramel, Bourbon Vanilla, malty notes, dry Almond, Orange peel, Honey.

Palate: Smooth and well-balanced with rounded tannins and fruit overtones.

Finish: Middle Eastern pastry, sweet spice and toasted notes.

Q&As with Heather Clancy, Grace O’Malley’s Brand Manager

How did it all begin for Grace O’Malley Irish Whiskey?

Our founder Stephen Cope, from Ballina in County Mayo, grew up listening to the stories of the phenomenal Irish Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley and carried them with him as he moved away from home. He had the original idea for a Grace O’Malley whiskey brand in 2007 but it wasn’t until 2017 that the company was initially founded.

He joined forces with the Private Pier Industries brand-building and investment group in Berlin who have not only invested in Grace O’Malley Whiskey but in the drinks Industry as a whole. PPI is now one of the largest independent owners of Irish whiskey stock in the world and has set up a state-of-the art blending, bottling and maturation facility in Dundalk, County Louth, called Good Spirits Bottling.

The initial bottle of Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey was launched in June of 2019 and despite the Covid-19 pandemic the distribution has now grown to over 20 countries internationally.

Grace O’Malley appears to have won quite a few awards – why do you think the product earned them?

We’re very fortunate to work together with our expert Master Blender Paul Caris. Paul is from Bordeaux and originally started off as a wine-maker before transitioning into the world of spirits.

He has worked across rum, gin and whiskey and brings a new perspective to the wonderful world of Irish Whiskey. He has used his vast industry experience to create some fantastic blended Irish whiskeys that whilst undeniably Irish in character bring a new dimension to the category.

Separate to Grace O’Malley, he’s actually turning his passion for casks into his own cooperage, buying one in Foxford in County Mayo (where Grace O’Malley is from), assisting the vast network of new brands to assist them with coopering needs.

Do you agree that there seems to be a trend towards Premium and above & Special Editions?

I absolutely agree. We’re seeing that here in Ireland and markets across the world. Over the past two-and-a-half years people really immersed themselves into the topic of whiskey and are constantly on the hunt for something new that you can’t necessarily get everywhere.

We previously released our Grace O’Malley Rum Cask Irish Whiskey and Grace O’Malley Dark Char Cask Irish Whiskey as special Limited Editions but due to the popularity we have now adopted them into our permanent range. We also have released a range of 18-19 Single Malt releases finished in different casks such as Port.

The world of single cask releases is something that we have just started to dip our toe into and have some exciting projects in the pipeline.

What’s the Grace O’Malley Irish Whiskey’s USP?

It’s all in the name. Grace O’Malley is the first Irish Whiskey named after a woman but more than that it is named after a trailblazer. We’re channelling Grace O’Malley herself and to break down the stereotypes typically associated with the whiskey industry. We have a wide portfolio ranging from our Premium but affordable Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey all the way to an 18 Year-Old Single Malt finished in a Cognac cask that everyone can find their favourite Grace O’Malley whiskey from.

Marketing plans here for the rest of 2022?

We collaborated with fantastic artist Kathrina Rupit earlier in the year and she created a modern day interpretation of Grace O’Malley.

This image was painted as a mural on Aungier Street in Dublin and is now available in store as a gift box on our flagship Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whisky for the run-up to Christmas so that everyone can have a piece of this amazing artwork in their home.

We have also painted 500 black whiskey bottles with the mural image so that each bottle makes up an individual piece of the artwork. Each bottle is filled with a special limited edition 13 Year-Old Single Grain Whiskey with an Amarone finish.

The digital artwork and bottles are all going to be sold as part of an NFT auction with all profits going back to the artists later this year.

Raise a glass this Christmas with a Proclamation

For the whiskey and history lover, raise a glass this Festive Season with Proclamation Irish Whiskey, offering two whiskey and glassware gift sets for Christmas.  Each gift set features the award-winning Proclamation Irish Whiskey in a beautifully-presented boxed gift set with either two whiskey tumblers or an Irish Coffee glass depending on how consumers prefer to enjoy this original Irish blend.

Proclamation Irish Whiskey was created in honour of the printers of the Irish Proclamation.

105 years ago, the famous words of the Irish Proclamation were immortalised into their distinctive print by three lesser-known Dubliners, William O’Brien, Michael Molloy and Christopher Joseph Brady. Attention to detail has been paramount through all aspects of the whiskey creation and presentation, with the label design reflecting the physical attributes of the Proclamation.

Blind embossing of the label and distinctive fonts including the spurious ‘e’ were specially redrawn to emulate those of the original document to celebrate Ireland’s independent spirit and pay homage to the work of these three unsung heroes.  The whiskey itself has been handcrafted for distinctive character and complexity and matured to perfection in expertly selected casks for depth of flavour.

A blended Irish Whiskey, created from the finest Irish grain and malt whiskeys, Proclamation is distilled and aged in new American Oak. It’s a singularly smooth whiskey of complex character with a refined, clean taste. Tasting notes reveal an abundance of fruit and creaminess. Matured in Bourbon casks, the blend includes a touch of Sherry-finished Malt to give a rounded, toasted finish.

For further information, visit www.proclamationwhiskey.com

 

 

 

 

 

Tullamore DEW, a small town, world-famous Irish whiskey

Tullamore, a small town with a big reputation in Irish whiskey, is home to the world’s second largest Irish whiskey, Tullamore DEW, with over 192 years of history & experience.

Set in the heart of Ireland, Tullamore DEW homes one of Ireland’s leading grain-to-glass distilleries, where it produces expertly-crafted whiskey from start to finish in one location.

The distillery spans a whopping 58 acres where it mills, mashes, ferments, distills, matures and finally bottles its award-winning whiskey all on one site. Here, 11 million litres of whiskey are produced each year, making Tullamore DEW one of the finest examples of Ireland’s whiskey renaissance. With its rich heritage and state-of-the-art distillery worth over €100 million, Tullamore DEW guarantees quality in every drop.

Tullamore DEW is crafted by a complex process, predominantly following the rule of three: three distillations, three styles of whiskey and a minimum of three years cask-matured.

Renowned as the original triple blend of Irish whiskey, its signature liquid includes the balance of three whiskeys – grain, malt and pot still – which bring out a complex flavour with an incredibly smooth finish. This makes Tullamore DEW the perfect base for a range of serves from Tully & Ginger to The Irish Coffee.

Tullamore DEW has grown its range to include a line of Premium malts and blends including multi-award-winning 12 Year-Old Special Reserve and its Single Malts, 14 Year-Old and 18 Year-Old, any of which are perfect for that self-treat moment as the Festive Season approaches.

Tullamore DEW is distributed by Richmond Marketing in Ireland.. 

For further information or to book the ultimate distillery experience, please visit  tullamoredew.com.

Paddy’s Share

In 1913 Paddy Flaherty, our most gregarious whiskey salesman, stood for two things: good times and great whiskey.

As he travelled across Ireland with his wares, Paddy made his mark with his generosity, conversation and joy. Now, 100 years later, inspired by the Angel’s Share, we honour Paddy’s legacy with our high ABV whiskey Paddy’s Share.

Paddy’s Share is triple-distilled in County Cork and blended with Malt in Sherry barrels for its unique taste. Paddy’s Share boasts a 47%ABV with a bold, robust flavour and a distinctly nutty, malty and charred wood character.

For more information visit Hi-Spirits.ie.

Michael Collins

 

Michael Collins was born in Sam’s Cross, near Clonakilty, County Cork, the third son and youngest of eight children.

The Collins family were part of an ancient clan, widely spread over County Cork, with republican connections stretching back to the 1798 rebellion. Michael Collins’ father, Michael John, was a farmer by profession and a mathematician in his spare time.

He and his wife, Mary O’Brien, raised their eight children on a 90-acre farm called Woodfield, which the Collins had held as tenants for several generations.

On his death-bed the father (the seventh son of a seventh son) first predicted that his daughter, Helena, would become a nun which she later did.

He then turned to the family and told them to take care of Michael because “One day he’ll be a great man. He’ll do great work for Ireland”.

Michael was six years old at the time.

Michael Collins ‘The Prediction’ Irish Whiskey pays tribute to this revolutionary hero. Made with only the finest Irish whiskeys, this dark and brooding blend of triple-distilled, pot still, grain and malt whiskey is a rebellious and innovative contribution to the Irish Whiskey category.

Bushmills reveals exclusive 2022 Causeway Collection

Bushmills Irish Whiskey has revealed two expressions from its 2022 Causeway Collection, available to purchase exclusively on the island of Ireland – including a world’s first.

Last July Bushmills announced that a total of 10 rare releases would be launching worldwide from the first series curated by Bushmills Master Blender Alex Thomas. Alex recently confirmed that the two expressions destined for the Island of Ireland were a 2002 Vermouth Cask and a 2012 Pomerol Cask.

The Vermouth Cask will be the world’s first-ever Vermouth cask-finished Irish Single Malt Whiskey release from the world’s oldest licenced whiskey distillery – The Old Bushmills Distillery. Matured in Oloroso Sherry butts and Bourbon barrels for over 18 years, this one-time-release whiskey is then aged for nearly two years in unique Vermouth casks from Italy’s Piedmont region.

“The 2002 Vermouth Cask is a beautiful cask-strength and non chill-filtered whiskey that embodies the spirit of Bushmills,” commented Alex, “Vermouth is extremely unique, unlike anything else we’d tried before, but I believe perfection lies outside of our comfort zones. This is the first-ever Irish Single Malt to go to market that’s been matured in Vermouth casks and it’s a whiskey that will undoubtedly challenge consumers to experience Bushmills in a different light.”

The second exclusive release for the Irish market is a 2012 Pomerol Cask. This special bottling was first aged in Oloroso Sherry butts and Bourbon barrels before being finished in rare Pomerol wine casks for a further four years. The smallest of all the major Bordeaux wine appellations, Pomerol is home to some of the most expensive and sought-after red wines in the world.

“The 2012 Pomerol Cask is a stunning whiskey, the complexity of the flavour profile really compliments the smooth and approachable flavour of Bushmills” commented Alex, “together they’ve proven to be the perfect match. Pomerol wine casks are rarely used in the ageing process which is one of the many reasons I feel this expression is so special. The stunning casks with their hazelwood hoops showcase the rich history in the Bordeaux region and it was a pleasure to bring our two traditions together.”

Only limited bottles of the 2012 Pomerol Cask are available, bottled at 54.2% ABV, non chill-filtered and priced at €115/£100 for 700ml while the same applies to the 2002 Vermouth Cask, bottled at 48.2% ABV, non chill-filtered and priced at €250/£225 for 700ml.

 

 

 

 

 

Lambay Whiskey Single Malt Batch 01 is no ordinary Single Malt, it’s a journey of taste

The first release from the trilogy, Reserve Cask Series, is a rich triple-distilled Single Malt, matured in Bourbon barrels and finished in Lambay Whiskey’s signature style of French Camus Cognac casks.

Batch 01 contains a higher percentage of island-matured Lambay Single Malt, delivering a more intense salty note. This Single Malt consists of both first-fill and second-fill Cognac cask finishing, creating a more intense mouthfeel of spice, tobacco and pepper on the palate.

Blended with Single Malt from our Island warehouse, the whiskey has soft smoky attributes with slight salinity and a lingering finish that balances the rich Oak and herb notes.

Before bottling, the Island’s own Trinity Well water is added in the final flourish to deliver this triple-distilled Irish whiskey.

With an ABV of 43% and limited to just 10,000 bottles, key markets for this product are Ireland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, China and Japan.

“This series is designed to push the boundaries for our whiskey fans to taste the diversity of cask finishes we can create in our single malts,” commented Sabine Sheehan, Global Brand Ambassador & Senior Brand Manager of Lambay Whiskey, “Our first Lambay Single Malt release in 2018 was a huge success with its floral, tropical notes and lingering sweetness attracting a new swathe of whiskey drinkers to Lambay.

“This Reserve Cask Series will challenge that profile with three very different limited-edition cask releases. Oak, tobacco, salt and peat will challenge the traditional sweet, floral and mellow profile we had before, opening us up to new consumers that prefer those taste profiles and wish to leverage up on their current favourites”

A truly distinctive taste experience, that takes you on a journey of sea, island and cask, from the first sip to the last.

Available @ shop.lambaywhiskey.com

Batch 02 will release at the end of 2022 and Batch 03 at the end of 2023.

 

 

 

 

 

Fercullen Falls

 The launch of Fercullen Falls represents the first whiskey distilled in Wicklow in over 100 years.

A 50/50 blend of malt and grain whiskeys with a high malt content, the malt whiskey has matured in first fill ex-Bourbon barrels and the grain in a combination of ex-Bourbon and new heavy char Oak casks.

“With this release The Powerscourt Distillery is heralding the start of a new era for the Distillery with the inclusion of malt whiskey distilled at Powerscourt,” said John Cashman Head of Whiskey at the distillery, “As a proud Wicklow man it’s wonderful to be part of the first (legal) whiskey distilled in Wicklow in over 100 a years.”

Paul Corbett, Head Distiller and Blender at Powerscourt, added, “The 50% Malt content in the blend adds to the complexity and depth of flavour which is very different to what other blended Irish whiskeys are offering”.

Drawing on its unique location the name refers to Powerscourt Waterfall, Ireland’s highest waterfall at 121 metres – and with its contemporary design, evokes thoughts of whiskey falling into a glass.

“This new core expression from Powerscourt Distillery will ensure our whiskey is relevant to a new generation,” said Caroline Gardiner, Head of Marketing at Powerscourt Distillery, “A consumer audience which is driving the growth of Irish whiskey, seeking quality not quantity”.

Ryan Stapleton, International Sales Manager, explained, “Fercullen Falls further adds to our value proposition with a high quality blend that’s able to compete amongst Ireland’s best-known blended Irish Whiskeys”.

The whiskey is bottled at 43% ABV and with its higher than standard malt whiskey blend, is perfect for enjoying straight or as a base for a cocktail.

The Management team at Powerscourt (from left): Head Distiller & Blender Paul Corbett, General Manager Roger Dugan, Head of Marketing Caroline Gardiner, Head of Whiskey John Cashman, International Sales Manager Ryan Stapleton and  Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder Gerry Ginty.

The Management team at Powerscourt (from left): Head Distiller & Blender Paul Corbett, General Manager Roger Dugan, Head of Marketing Caroline Gardiner, Head of Whiskey John Cashman, International Sales Manager Ryan Stapleton and  Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder Gerry Ginty.

TASTING NOTES

NOSE: Cinnamon and fresh orchard fruits, herbaceous with brown sugar, toffee and a distinct maltiness

TASTE: Rich, soft and sweet. Vanilla icing and malt spice with a peppery clove finish.

FINISH: Warming malt spice with good length, drying at the extremities of your tongue.

Fercullen Falls Blended Irish Whiskey will be in store from September 15th. RRP€38

For trade inquiries – Trade@Powerscourtdistillery.com

 

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