North American whiskey & Bourbon market diversifies

American whiskeys and Bourbons have been marked by one common theme of late: diversity.

20 years ago the American whiskey and Bourbon market was pretty fixed and well… unremarkable in terms of diversification and variety.

But just as the Irish whiskey market has blossomed into different varieties and styles of finish, so too has the American whiskey and Bourbon market.

These particular US and Canadian spirits remain in global growth with market analysts Euromonitor International  putting Bourbon/other US whiskeys growing volumes by 4.6% to 39.5 million nine-litre cases in 2017.

Euromonitor International predicts further global growth in 2018, nearer 4%, to 43 million cases.


Irish market

The consumption figures for US whiskeys and Bourbons here in Ireland are certainly going in the right direction.

While Euromonitor International puts a volume figure of 2% on the growth of  Bourbon/other US whiskeys in 2017 to 44,428 cases, CSO figures for 2017 indicate imports of American whiskey up by 15% in volume and 16.7% by value here.

And Euromonitor International predicts a further 2.5% increase for 2018 to 45,532 cases.

Meanwhile IWSR figures indicate that the on-trade share of consumption for US whiskeys has risen from 43% to 49% while off-premise consumption has dropped from 57% to 51%.

According to IWSR’s Domestic Volume Report for 2018, individual Bourbon brands grew here from a smaller base due to a mixture of consumers following global trends, an increase of bartenders promoting it and heightened keenness and awareness among younger consumers.

While this may be true globally, mixologist Paul Lambert of the Blind Pig who has just this month opened a new outlet in Shaker & Vine in Swords, North County Dublin, feels that locally, it tends to be more Irish whiskey that’s being promoted.

He has noticed Bourbons and American whiskeys becoming more popular, though, “…. Bourbon more so but Rye is having its moment”.

Bourbon cocktails such as the Old Fashioned Classic or the Sazerac, the Whiskey Sour or Manhattan are back in demand.

“The Old Fashioned in particular. Whiskey Sour has always been popular,” he agrees, adding that demand for Bourbons and American whiskeys is coming from “the late 20s” age demographic in the on-trade.

As for the “heightened keenness and awareness among younger consumers” Paul’s of the opinion that this very much depends on the bar.

“In a bar where you feel the staff know their stuff then people might be inclined to ask questions,” he comments.

Unlike yesterday, it seems that today sees a more diverse mix (and age) of consumers in certain on-trade outlets appreciating the equally diverse mix of whiskies and Bourbons now out there. Again here, as with vodkas, gins and Irish whiskeys, consumers are likely to want to know about the heritage, distillation method and story of the US spirt as part of their purchase requirement.

While some seek out the classic cocktails using American whiskey and Bourbons others want something lighter in alcohol and so the industry has adapted, bringing out spritzers and other forms of cocktail which are lighter in flavour and in alcohol.


Trade under tariffs

It will be interesting to see how American whiskeys and bourbons perform under the yolk of the new import tariffs introduced by the EU in retaliation for the tariffs placed on EU iron and steel to the US.


Buffalo Trace


Buffalo Trace Distillery is the longest continuously-run distillery in the US with more than 200 years of Bourbon-making history.

Buffalo Trace Straight Kentucky Whiskey is the distillery’s flagship Bourbon, produced in small batches and aged for years in new Oak barrels to produce a rich and complex whiskey.  Each barrel is tasted by the Master Distiller and his team to ensure consistency and exceptional quality.

In response to the growing demand for Buffalo Trace in the US and further afield, the distillery plans to invest $1.2 billion over the next 10 years to increase production and build additional barrel warehouses there.

The distillery was awarded five Double Gold medals at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition and 21 medals overall.

Distributor here Hi-Spirits has announced that it’s bringing Drew Mayville, Master Blender at Buffalo Trace Distillery (with over 35 years’ experience), over to Ireland this September.

Drew is responsible for the creation of many of the distillery’s finest whiskies. Trade events will be happening in Dublin, Cork and Belfast.


Jefferson’s Bourbons

Treat your customers to something extra-special this Summer with Jefferson’s ‘ridiculously small-batch’ Bourbon.

Jefferson’s carefully selects small, esoteric lots of aged Bourbon in barrels of various ages; they are then skilfully blended to achieve a perfectly-balanced taste.  The barrels are chosen for their quality, age and taste profile.

Distributed by Dalcassian Wines & Spirits, the range includes:


  • Jefferson’s Very Small Batch, a smooth full-bodied Bourbon, big enough for the Bourbon connoisseur yet approachable for the new premium Bourbon drinkers
  • Jefferson’s Reserve, a big sophisticated complex Bourbon with front-loaded flavour and a deep wonderful finish, a marriage of four different Bourbons aged up to 18 years
  • Jefferson’s Ocean, aged for eight years on land and a further six months at sea – during the voyage the bourbon touches five continents, reaches 30 ports and crosses the equator four times.

The new Jefferson’s Groth Reserve Cask Finish, has first been aged in new American oak for six years. From there it was finished in Groth Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for a further nine months. Groth is a well-respected winery from California’s Napa Valley and its Cabernet in particular is considered an awesome wine in its grape varietal category.


Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky

Created by Bill Samuels Sr to be a Bourbon that he would enjoy drinking himself, Maker’s Mark is smooth and approachable with an easy finish – a true contrast to hot, harsh whiskeys that “blow your ears off” and a downright revolutionary idea at the time.

Maker’s Mark is made slowly, in small batches, in the National Historic Landmark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky. While it makes any cocktail better, a lot of folks still prefer it on its own or over ice with a splash of water.


Colour:       Golden

Aroma:        Woody oak, caramel, vanilla and wheat prevail in the nose

Taste:         Sweet and balanced with caramel, vanilla and fruity essence

Finish:        Smooth and subtle.

Distributed byBarry & Fitzwilliam.


Jim Beam Double Oak

To make Jim Beam Double Oak, start with the world’s Number One Bourbon and wait patiently four years while it sits breathing in the Kentucky seasons in freshly-charred new American Oak barrels.

The Bourbon is then transferred to a second charred American Oak barrel and aged to taste. The second barrelling allows the liquid to develop an even deeper spiced oakiness and rich caramel, perfect for mixing in classic cocktails or sipped over ice.




Colour:       Deep amber

Aroma:        Rich deep notes of wood, vanilla

Taste:          Bold intense bourbon

Finish:        Smooth, lingering.

Distributed byBarry & Fitzwilliam.



The rise and rise of Bulleit Frontier Whiskey

As bourbon continues its rise in popularity across the globe, the Drinks International Brands Report 2018, released earlier this year, demonstrates Bulleit Frontier Whiskey’s continued success story.

The report found that Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey solidified its place as the #1 Best-Selling and Top Trending American whiskey for the third consecutive year.

In Ireland, Bulleit continues its growth, through clever, targeted activities led by Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Ronan Massey who, with a team of top bartenders, served up some incredible signature serves including the Bulleit Mint Julep and the Bulleit Lemon and Tonic throughout the Taste of Dublin festival last June.

Bulleit Bourbon is made using an extraordinarily high percentage of Rye, Kentucky’s limestone-filtered water, the highest quality grains and a proprietary yeast strain to create a more flavourful Bourbon which is aged in new flame-charred American White Oak barrels, giving the liquid its rich colour and depth of flavour.

Distributed by Diageo Ireland.







Jack Daniel’s Old No 7

Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 is charcoal-mellowed drop-by-drop, then allowed to age in our own hand-crafted barrels. Our Tennessee Sippin’ Whiskey is ready only when our tasters say it is. We use our senses, just like Jack Daniel himself did. In fact, more than a century later, our Tennessee Whiskey is still judged by the way it looks, smells and of course, by the way it tastes.





Gentleman Jack

Gentleman Jack is the only whiskey in the world to be charcoal-mellowed twice – once before going into the barrel and again after reaching maturity, giving it ultimate smoothness. Gentleman Jack is full-bodied with fruit and spices and its finish is silky, warm and pleasant.


Cocktail Serve:

Gentlemen’s Manhattan

50ml Gentleman Jack stirred with Martini sweet vermouth and a dash of Orange bitters finished with a light spray of Ardbeg 10 Year Scotch and Orange twist.

Single Barrel

Once our whiskey has been mellowed, drop-by-drop, through 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal it begins its journey towards maturation, resting in our hand-made charred American White Oak barrels. After some time and careful tasting by our Master Tasting Panel only the very best barrels are put to one side. These barrels are highlighted as Single Barrels as they show signs of a unique flavour.

Each barrel is distinctly unique due to its location in the barrelhouse and the personality of the wood. As a result, every single one has its own individual flavour and character. The barrel is never blended with another barrel, the whiskey in your bottle is one of 149 bottles available. Hence the unique neck strip with the date, bottle number and even where it was rested in the cellar!



Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey


Woodford Reserve is hand-crafted in small batches allowing us to craft it at all five sources of Bourbon flavour, giving it its distinct taste and crisp clean finish.



Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey showcases the five sources of flavour with emphasis on spice to deliver a long and sweetly spiced finish.



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