Scotch whisky is worth €3.63 billion (£3bn) to the UK Exchequer while the Irish spirits industry (mostly whiskey) is worth just under a sixth of this figure or €568 million. Similarly, 93 million (nine litre) cases of Scotch are exported as against 6.2 million cases of Irish whiskey.
Today’s joint industry meeting between the Irish Spirits Association and Scotch Whisky Association is something of an annual tradition that coincides with the Irish and Scottish Six Nations rugby match. This year it is being attended by representatives from Ireland’s whiskey distillers as well as many of the new distillers who’ve plans to open operations.
Where Ireland currently has just four distilleries, Scotland can boast 108 which utilize 620,000 tonnes of barley against Ireland’s 45,000 tonne demand.
The figures, published by the Irish Spirits Association provide some comparable industry stats that highlight the stark difference between the Irish and Scottish industries in terms of relative size, and the hugely positive growth prospects for the Irish whiskey industry.
Speaking ahead of the meeting the Director of Production at Irish Distillers and Chairman of the Irish Spirits Association Peter Morehead, said that there’s a plethora of lessons that the Irish whiskey industry can learn from the Scottish experience.
“Irish spirits companies contribute over €1bn to the Exchequer every year, supporting the employment of 14,700 people across production and sales. However, when we compare the whiskey industry to that of Scotch whisky, it becomes clear that there’s a space for huge potential growth in the sector.
“What’s especially exciting is the fact that the Irish whiskey industry has been flourishing as of late, experiencing somewhat of a renaissance. This has led to extremely positive growth prospects. Currently we have four distilleries and this is set to grow to over 15 if all current projects move forward. As well as this, Ireland currently exports over 6.2 million 9-litre cases of Irish Whiskey to over 100 markets and this figure will potentially double to over 12 million 9-litre cases by 2020.
“Currently, the USA is the top destination for Irish whiskey followed by the UK, but emerging markets such as Russia and China present significant opportunity for future export driven growth in the sector.”
He continued, “I would like to take this opportunity to urge the Government to do everything in its power support the industry so it can continue to build on current success, identify new markets for products and find innovative product solutions, which will in turn help to foster further economic recovery in Ireland and fill what is undoubtedly a space for huge growth in the sector.”
Campbell Evans, Director of International Affairs at the Scotch Whisky Association commented, “The Scotch Whisky industry is extremely successful, exporting over 93 million cases of whisky and generating £135 a second from over 108 distilleries and employing over 35,000 people directly and indirectly. We see growth opportunity in Asia, Africa and Latin America as well as continued good sales in more established markets such as the USA and France”.
The two industries will discuss an array of topics from emerging market trends to Europe-level issues, the opportunities for “considerable” growth in the coming years both in terms of new distilleries being built in Scotland and Ireland and in new markets expanding.
“I know from our past meetings there are a host valuable lessons we can learn from each other when we meet in Dublin to ensure this potential in grabbed by us all,” concluded Campbell Evans.