Spirits – only winner in Q1-Q3

With the wider opening of the on-trade, provisional beer volumes for the July to September Quarter (Q3) were up 15.5% to 5 million litres from 4.3m litres in 2020's Q3 - but beer volumes were down 3.6% over the nine months January to September.


Total Revenue figures for spirits for the three quarters of 2021, at 5,662,080 litres compared with 2020's 5,635,743 litres, menas that volumes were up 0.4% over the same period in 2020.

Total Revenue figures for spirits for the three quarters of 2021, at 5,662,080 litres compared with 2020’s 5,635,743 litres, means that volumes were up 0.4% over the same period in 2020.

Over the first three quarters of this year therefore, beer volumes totalled 11,492,979 litres compared to  11,924,405 litres in 2020, a 3.6% fall in volumes from January to October.

Q3’s beer sales brought in €108.5 million to the Revenue Commissioners in net excise receipts this year, up 11% on last year’s €97.8 million figure.

But the nine-month January to October period saw net excise receipts on beer bringing in €252.5 million which was 7% down on last year’s Q1-Q3 receipts of €271.9 million for the same three month period.

The best month for beer excise receipts was August which brought in €38.8 million in excise where August 2020’s excise total was 4% less at €37.3 million. However, relating this to retail sales, the excise figure’s more likely to reflect the preceding month’s retail sales in July as there’s a lag phase between sales and excise receipts registered.


Provisional Spirits volumes for Q3 were 2,074,376 litres according to Revenue’s figures, up 1.7% on 2020’s Q3 figure of 2,039,995 litres. This puts the total for the three quarters of 2021 at 5,662,080 litres compared with 2020’s 5,635,743 litres, thus up 0.4% over the same period in 2020.

Spirits sales in Q3 brought in €91.5 million in excise receipts where it had brought in €84.7 million in 2020, an 8% rise in receipts value. Over the nine months to the end of September, excise receipts on spirits brought in €259.1 million compared with €255.3 million over the same period in 2020, up 1.5%.

January was the best month for spirits excise receipts, with €48.6 million taken in. In 2020, the January figure was €44.3 million, just under 10% less, but again, these figures are more likely to reflect December’s spirits sales due to the lag period in registering excise receipts from those retail sales.


Provisional Wine volumes were down by 15.6% to 22.8 million litres in this year’s Q3 compared with 27.1 million litres in Q3 2020. The total for the three quarters of 2021 is just short of 63 million litres down by nearly 13.1% on the 2020 figure of 72.5m litres.

Excise receipts for wine in the third quarter totalled €97.3 million, down 14% on the same quarter in 2020 when excise receipts totalled €113.1m.

Over the three quarters excise receipts for wine brought in €280.5 million, 8% down on 2020’s €305 million figure.

Best month for wine excise receipts so far was January which saw €47.9 million taken in. This was 13.5% up on 2020’s figure of €42.2 for January. Again, excise figures are more likely to reflect actual December sales.



Provisional figures for cider show a drop of 9.7% in Q3 2021 to 13.5 million litres from 14.9m litres in Q3 the previous year. However total cider sales for the three quarters amounted to 37.7 million litres, down 11.9% from 2020’s 42.8m litre figure.

Excise receipts for cider in the third quarter came in at €13.0 million, down 13% from 2020’s third quarter figure of €15.0 million. Over the nine-month period this year, cider receipts totalled €38.8 million, down 27% on 2020’s €40.8 million figure.

Cider excise receipts to the end of Q3 were at their best in June when excise receipts totalled €8.1 million, reflecting a good May. In 2020, cider’s best month was August with sales bringing in excise receipts of €5.7 million, reflecting a buoyant July.

In all, alcohol sales dropped by 6.4% over the first nine months of this year according to Drinks Ireland.

“New data from the Revenue Commissioners shows alcohol consumption in Ireland has fallen again” it stated, “with sales of beer and cider particularly impacted by the closing of and ongoing restrictions in pubs, restaurants and bars in towns and cities throughout the country. “Every category of alcohol has seen a fall in sales since before the pandemic, with total sales down by over 10% in the last two years.”

Drinks Ireland compared 2021’s figures with those of a pre-pandemic 2019 in the interests of more realistic comparison.

“The comparison between the first nine months of 2021 and the same period in 2019, before the pandemic hit, are even starker,” it states, pointing out that in 2019 beer sales were down 17.8%, spirits sales were down 0.8%, wine sales were down 1.4% and cider sales were down 20.3%. Thus total alcohol sales were down by 10.4%.

“This data shows the long-term trend in falling alcohol consumption continuing, but that fall has been exacerbated by the pandemic and the shuttering of and ongoing restrictions on the hospitality sector,” said Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan, “Having endured the strictest Lockdown in Europe, it’s hardly surprising to see this dramatic fall. The fall is even more dramatic in the context of alarmist and erroneous claims at various times in the last two years that alcohol consumption was rising or even soaring – it simply was not,” she concluded.



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