By 2020 we expect to be selling 12 million cases of Irish whiskey a year. By 2030 that figure is confidently expected to rise to 24 million cases.
Such an optimistic outlook has led to a huge growth in the number of Irish distilleries from just four in 2012 to a prediction of 15 at least by 2018.
The figures speak for themselves.
Overall global sales of Irish whiskey grew 6% between 2013 and 2014, from 6.9 million nine-litre cases to 7.3 million cases in 2014 according to IWSR.
At 2.6 million cases the US showed a growth in consumption of 5.5% while Russian sales – the largest after the US and Ireland – grew 15.1% to 446,500 cases according to IWSR figures.
What’s perhaps the most optimistic aspect of the Irish whiskey market is that younger consumers are now beginning to explore the Irish whisk(e)y category.
And that market now comprises both males and females.
Claire Richards, Beam Suntory’s Director of World Whisk(e)y (which now includes Kilbeggan), points out in a recent Spirits Review in IWSR magazine that one new consumer group for the future growth of Irish whiskey will be women.
“The days of whiskey being known as a ‘man’s drink’ are over” she stated, “as female consumers have begun abandoning clear spirits, such as flavoured vodkas, in favour of more complex and sophisticated
spirits, including Irish whiskey.”
However, move nearer to home and sales of Irish whiskey in the place of its birth show less zippiness in their sales strides. Sales here declined 3.3% from 519,500 cases to 502,500 cases in 2014.
This is bad for business, especially the Irish whiskey business in Ireland.
According to the Irish Whiskey Association in its Vision for Irish whiskey strategy document published earlier this year, “Irish whiskey companies depend on a strong and supportive home market to build their brands, introduce product innovations, reinforce brands to tourists and visiting journalists and ultimately to launch products internationally. It is essential to the success of the category that Ireland is proud and supportive of its Irish whiskey.”
The document continues, “Successful, sustainable, Irish whiskey brands will continue to be built in the on-trade. Pubs showcase Irish whiskey brands in their natural environment. A knowledgeable barman can explain Irish whiskey, its nuances, history, craft to his customers in addition to explaining the differences between the various styles (malt, pot still, blends etc). A foreign visitor can find out which is the local Irish whiskey and possibly benefit from a little background folklore as well.”
But the latest news on domestic sales of Irish whiskey is somewhat more sanguine. According to Nielsen, off-trade sales of Irish whiskey were up 3% in volume and 4% in value MAT to the end of August 2015, a growth in sales from 283,000 cases to 290,000 cases with a corresponding increase in value to €99.1 million from €95.4 million.
The on-trade showed growth too in both volume and value MAT to the end of August this year.
Sales in the on-trade rose by 3% in volume and 5% in value with volume sales rising from 116,450 cases to 120,200 cases corresponding to a rise in value from €118.4 million to €124.8 million.
Discover Kilbeggan, the smooth and real Irish whiskey taste worth sharing, from Ireland’s oldest and most-awarded distiller, made in the traditional Irish way. The finest grain and malt whiskeys are blended together for a smooth, sweet taste and lovely malt finish, a characteristic of its pot still that’s over 180 years old and still at the heart of Kilbeggan Irish whiskey.
The award-winning Kilbeggan collection also includes the older cousin of the original blend. Formerly known as Greenore, Kilbeggan 8 Year-Old Single Grain is completely unique as Ireland’s only aged Single Grain Irish whiskey.
This premium expression from the Kilbeggan family is soft and sweet with its main ingredient being corn rather than barley. It’s matured for eight years in ex-bourbon casks in the 250 year-old warehouses at the Kilbeggan distillery. This one-of-a-kind whiskey gives a rare glimpse into the wonderfully smooth style of grain whiskey and demonstrates the craft and heritage that goes into producing all Kilbeggan whiskeys.
To complete the whiskey collection, Kilbeggan 21 Year-Old is a limited edition bottling of the oldest blended Irish whiskey from the Kilbeggan Distilling Co. Specially-selected by Masterblender Noel Sweeney, this beautifully blended grain and malt whiskey has been matured in ex-Bourbon, Port, Madeira and Sherry casks creating complex sweet and smooth notes complemented by 21 years of patient aging.
The Kilbeggan whiskey range, owned by global spirits company Beam Suntory, is distributed here by Barry & Fitzwilliam, the country’s leading independent drinks distributor.
Tullamore Dew – customer engagement continues apace
This year has been another highly successful one for Tullamore Dew with Nielsen data showing the brand as the fastest-growing whiskey in Ireland by a large margin (7.5% MAT June 2015). This superb result is a testament to the efforts by distributor Findlater Wine & Spirit Group, especially given that the total whiskey market declined by 1.5% for the same period.
In September celebrations were held in Tullamore town when the brand marked one year since the opening of its Tullamore Distillery, the first to be constructed on a greenfield site in Ireland in over 100 years, an occasion that marked Tullamore Dew’s return to distilling in its hometown after a 60-year hiatus.
Customer engagement continued apace this year, with the brand once again partnering with the famous Castlepalooza festival in August for which it launched a ‘True Character’ competition to win a spot on the main stage of the festival.
Then in addition to launching a new serve, the ‘DNA’, an acronym for “Dew n’ Apple” consisting of Tullamore Dew Original with Cidona – two new expressions were launched that received widespread critical praise: Cider Cask Finish – uniquely finished in cider barrels and Trilogy – a 15 Year-Old blend matured in three different wood finishes.
‘Personalise Your Dew’, an innovative promotion allowing consumers apply for personalised labels via www.personaliseyourdew.com comes soon; a complimentary service for consumers, supported by in-store POS, this will drive sales in the off-trade in the lead-up to the Christmas gifting period.
Powerscourt Distillery lodges plans for €10m whiskey investment
Having lodged plans for a €10 whiskey distillery, Powerscourt Distillery will create a portfolio of whiskeys that’ll stand out in the rapidly growing Irish whiskey market.
Having raised €3 million in its first funding round closed earlier this year Powerscourt Distillery is in active discussions with several domestic and international investors and will be looking to close a second €5m funding round by the end of the year.
“We’ll combine the certified mineral water from the Estate and barley from the golden fields of the Estate to create something that’s extra special,” said Powerscourt Distillery’s Chief Executive and Co-Founder Gerry Ginty, “In essence the ultimate Irish whiskey, from barley to bottle on the Powerscourt Estate.”
The Slazengers, owners and custodians of Powerscourt Estate and Gardens, have developed it into a hugely popular tourist attraction with over 500,000 visitors each year and visitor numbers to the gardens from both the US and China are rising by over 49% and 39% respectively in the past year alone.
“At Powerscourt Distillery we’re passionate about fostering an appreciation of this traditional Irish spirit” commented the distillery’s Co-Founder Ashley Gardiner, “reclaiming and celebrating Ireland’s distilling heritage.”
Master Distiller Roy Court added, “I look forward to playing a role in creating a portfolio of Irish whiskeys that will stand out on the international stage”.
More information on Powerscourt Distillery can be found at www.powerscourtdistillery.com
The best of Irish and International whiskey was celebrated at Whiskey Live which returned to Dublin for the fifth time on Saturday 24th October in its new city centre location of The Printworks at Dublin Castle. The new venue was able to accommodate up to 1,200 visitors over two sessions which ran from 1.30-5.00pm and 6.00-9.30pm.
Each year Whiskey Live Dublin showcases an eclectic collection of whiskeys from around the world along with food pairings, cocktails and a range of entertaining master classes. This year also saw the introduction of craft gins and vodkas reflecting the continuing growth of distilleries and the whiskey industry in Ireland.
Visitors had the unique opportunity to sample whiskeys, whiskey cask-matured craft beers, whiskey cocktails and other Irish spirits and liqueurs whilst mingling with their producers and distillers.
Mixologists from Koh Bar, Bull & Castle and Native Blenders were at hand serving up samples of Irish whiskey cocktails. A selection of Dublin’s restaurants including Koh Bar, L Mulligan Grocer and FXBs presented a menu of food pairings to match the whiskeys.
Organiser Ally Alpine of The Celtic Whiskey Shop explained, “This year’s line-up of exhibitors was the strongest Dublin has ever seen and it really reflects the new investment and energy in the Irish whiskey category. Over recent years there’s been significant interest in Irish whiskey globally and this is evident in how this indigenous industry has grown and will flourish over the next decade.”
Tickets for Whiskey Live Dublin were €39.50 plus booking fee with The Celtic Whiskey Shop donating €10 per ticket to Down Syndrome Dublin.