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The gold spirit of success!

Posted 20.01.23

The value of Irish whiskey exports to the all-island economy exceeded €1 billion for the first time in 2022, the Irish Whiskey Association has announced.

The assessment by the Irish Whiskey Association is based on CSO/Eurostat data from Ireland and member data from Northern Ireland. The Irish Whiskey Association regards export value as representing a more accurate picture of the contribution to the all-island economy than global retail value.

Commenting on the one billion plus euro export value figure for 2022, William Lavelle, Director of the Irish Whiskey Association, stated: “Breaking one billion in export value represents another important milestone in the Irish whiskey renaissance and confirms the importance of our unique all-island industry to our shared economy, north and south. Across the island of Ireland, the growth in Irish whiskey exports has created more quality jobs, brought more investment into regional and rural communities, and led to more purchasing from Irish farmers.”

The key drivers of Irish whiskey export growth identified in the Irish Whiskey Association’s ‘Irish Whiskey Global’ international trade report published in October 2022, include:

  • The growing global demand for premium higher-priced Irish whiskey – in line with consumers drinking less, but drinking better;
  • Rapid market diversification, including across Africa and Asia;
  • The rise of e-commerce as major sales channel post-Covid;
  • Increased interest in Irish whiskey from the millennial and generation Z consumer segments.

Looking forward into 2023, Mr. Lavelle said: “The Irish Whiskey Association is reiterating its call for the proactive expansion of free trade agreements with positive trading partners, to support the continuing growth of Irish whiskey exports.”

According to Mr. Lavelle, priorities identified by the Irish Whiskey Association for 2023 include:

  • Protection of free trade with the United States and the avoidance of future trade disputes in the context of concerns regarding the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act and unresolved disputes on steel and aluminum.
  • Completion of EU trade negotiations with Australia and Kenya, and of both EU and UK trade negotiations with India, with a view to delivering tariff reductions in these markets.
  • Progression of the proposed EU-Mercosur free trade agreement following the election of President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva in Brazil, and efforts to agree on additional commitments on deforestation and climate change.

It is worth noting that Jameson and Irish Distillers are large drivers of these export values, with parent company Pernod Ricard publishing very promising growth for both Jameson as well Redbreast globally. 

Once the most highly sought-after whisk(e)y category in the world, today’s Irish renaissance has been a long time coming. Irish whiskey’s success peaked in the mid-­1800s when soaring demand from the US generated a roaring trade for no fewer than 88 distilleries in Ireland. But producers were dealt a double blow with Prohibition in the US and two World Wars, which all but wiped out the sector.

Just two distilleries remained by the 1980s, both owned by Irish Distillers, and it wasn’t until the turn of the Millennium that the number doubled to four. As recently as 2013, the only distilleries producing and selling Irish whiskey were Cooley, Kilbeggan, New Midleton, and Old Bushmills. But by August 2017, these four distilleries had more than quadrupled to 18 – and in 2022, 43 distilleries were registered on the island of Ireland. 

When you look at the rate at which sales are growing, it’s easy to see why more producers are eager to join the sector.

To view, a map of Irish Distilleries click here, please note this map is ever-evolving and not controlled by LIWC!

 

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