The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States has reported that sales of Irish whiskey in the US grew by 17.8% last year to 5.9 million cases.
The resilience of the Irish whiskey category through the initial stages of the pandemic paved the way for a strong rebound in 2021, with robust growth in established markets in North America, Europe and Australia, coupled with remarkable breakthroughs in emerging markets, led by India and Nigeria.
“The IWA has seen a sustained pivot by global consumers to online purchasing of Irish whiskey alongside increased demand for Irish whiskey at higher price points, particularly for age-statement, Super-Premium brands,” reports the Association which has published a new booklet to help celebrate St Patrick’s Day this year.
In it can be discovered:
- ways to enjoy classic and contemporary Irish whiskey cocktails
- a guide to surprising Irish whiskey food pairings, presented by renowned local food advocate, food writer and chef JP McMahon
- the Irish Whiskey 360° distilleries’ trail and the Irish Whiskey 360° Passport
- how Irish whiskey distilleries are leaders in sustainability
Here at home, Irish whiskey sales are set to rise, with whiskey already accounting for over one in five spirits sold through Ireland’s restaurants, pubs and bars (22%) and 75% of whisky drinkers choosing local brands, according to data from CGA’s latest On Premise Measurement Service.
The growing interest in local brands and the flourishing cocktail market should help operators and suppliers grow sales of Irish whiskey this year, according to CGA’s data.
Its On Premise Measurement Service shows that 21% of consumers drink whiskey out of home, putting it well clear of other popular spirits including rum (15%) and flavoured gin (16%).
CGA’s global consumer surveys have further identified shifts in preferences towards local drinks during the Covid crisis. This means Irish whiskey now accounts for 83% of all whiskey sales in Ireland—three percentage points higher than a year ago.
CGA’s sales analysis and consumer surveys have also provided other insights into the Irish whiskey market, including:
- two-thirds (67%) of drinkers are male and well over one-third (38%) are aged 34 or under
- nearly half (48%) prefer to drink Irish whiskey neat, while 30% pair it with a bottled mixer
- whiskey-drinkers spend an average of 6% more on out-of-home food and drink than the all-consumer average
- drinkers are loyal to their favourite brands, with more than two in five (43%) always choosing their favourite.
“Covid-19 Lockdowns have deepened consumers’ interest in drinks that are made close to home – and in Ireland that puts whiskey at a strong advantage,” said Sian Brennan, CGA’s Client Director for Ireland, “As pubs and bars build back from the pandemic, there will be some great opportunities to raise whiskey’s profile and diversify its appeal as a standalone drink or as part of a cocktail.
“However, in a highly competitive spirits sector Irish brands will have to work hard for consumers’ attention. Understanding people’s changing preferences will be essential if operators and suppliers are to cement brand loyalty and turn occasional whiskey drinkers into regular ones.”