New strategy to support Irish gin brands

A new strategy, the first in five years, has set out plans by Irish gin producers and brand owners to both maintain gin’s market share and grow sales by 2026.


"The pubs, bars and restaurants of the home market are vital to the continued growth of Irish Gin," states The Irish Gin Strategy 2022-2026.

“The pubs, bars and restaurants of the home market are vital to the continued growth of Irish Gin,” states The Irish Gin Strategy 2022-2026.

The plan sets out a range of goals and actions to drive exports in key markets, develop a vibrant domestic market, support the viability of Irish gin distilleries and ensure that the quality and standards of Irish gin are protected.

There are now at least 37 distilleries on the island of Ireland producing Irish gin via over 70 brands.

The Irish Gin Strategy 2022-2026 from all-island trade body Drinks Ireland|Spirits details how Irish gin and gin itself has experienced a number of years of very fast growth here, where sales soared. For example, between 2014 and 2020 the category grew by 184% with sales approaching 340,000 nine-litre cases in 2019.

But that ‘boom’ has slowed of late, with 2022 the first year that gin sales in Ireland declined to 316,000 cases as a direct result of the pandemic.

As the on-trade reopens and Global Travel Retail recovers, it’s anticipated that the category will once again return to pre-pandemic levels over time and Drinks Ireland|Spirits’ new strategy details plans to drive strong and sustainable growth in the years ahead.

According to the strategy report, “Forecasts for the next four-year period suggest that the growth in gin and Irish gin has not ended and while unlikely to be as strong as the 2014-20 period the category will continue to grow and the decline in 2020 will, in our view, come to be seen as a Covid-19-related blip”.


Ireland dominant market for Irish gin

With the category little understood outside of Ireland, currently Ireland is the dominant market for Irish gin but the new strategy puts a heavy focus on driving export growth, earmarking the UK, the US, Germany, Canada and GTR as key targets in the coming years.

Asia – and China specifically – has also been identified as a target market due to its size, growing stature and the value placed on heritage – which Irish distilling has.

Innovation also drives much of the Irish gin category.

Irish Gin is a Premium Plus product. This has and will be key to positioning the category internationally, according to Drinks Ireland|Spirits.

The strategy document puts forward the Irish gin industry’s growth target as being “to grow the Irish Gin category in both volume and value at a rate which is at least the projected global category growth rate (9%) amounting to 480,000 cases by 2026 and double the projected rate in the premium and above space”.

Ireland’s experience economy sector is key to growing overseas markets.

“The pubs, bars and restaurants of the home market are vital to the continued growth of Irish Gin,” states the document, “In many cases the hospitality sector is the first opportunity the Irish consumer and the overseas visitor has to experience new Irish gin brands. The barman behind the bar or the waiter offering suggestions is key to educating the Irish and overseas consumer and providing profile to our many Irish Gin brands.”

The strategy also outlines how the sector plans to further grow the category domestically by highlighting the local nature of Irish gin products and the important role they play in the economic viability of the hinterlands in which their producers and brand owners are based.

Overall, The Irish Gin Strategy 2022-2026 sets out four goals for the category, with a number of corresponding actions:

  1. To promote world-leading standards for quality and authenticity
  2. To sustain a vibrant home market for Irish gin
  3. To promote Irish gin worldwide, starting in the key target markets
  4. To support the viability of Irish gin distilleries.

“The Irish Gin sector has grown extremely quickly in recent years, driven by innovative and ambitious producers and brand owners dedicated to creating quality and authentic products,” said David Boyd-Armstrong, Chairman of the Drinks Ireland|Spirits’ Irish Gin working group and Joint Founder and Head Distiller of Rademon Estate Distillery, creator of Shortcross Gin, “Our strategy will enable the industry to take advantage of the opportunities in the domestic and international market and face the various challenges ahead. A key part of our strategy centres on protecting the Irish gin category and we’ll be working to seek the introduction of rules covering the marketing and labelling of Irish Gin in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK to ensure consumers know what they’re buying.”

Vincent McGovern, Director of Drinks Ireland|Spirits, added, “Our members employ dozens of people across both urban and rural Ireland producing this much-loved spirit and exporting to markets across the globe. Following a number of years of very fast growth – and in the context of the ever-changing national and international conditions – there was the need for a fresh strategy for the sector to ensure it can recover from Covid-19 and continue to grow in the years ahead.”




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