Emerald Aisles

01 August, 2016

Irish whiskey is on a roll, reports Christian Davis, with increasing numbers of consumers discovering its charms worldwide


IRISH WHISKEY HAS grown by almost 200% over the decade to 2014. This reflects an industry with ambition, a sense of mission and a deep understanding of individual markets. Irish whiskey brands now represent the fastest-growing premium spirit globally and, with investments of €1bn planned over a 10-year period, Irish whiskey and those who champion it will be well placed to generate growth, exports and jobs and a very special tourist offering celebrating an all-island heritage.”

These are the words of Simon Coveney, Ireland’s minister for agriculture, food & the marine. He goes on to say: “While unprecedented opportunities exist for growth and expansion in the Irish whiskey sector, their very scale is a challenge. A shared vision is, however, a powerful thing. It is good to see the sector encouraging and mentoring new entrants, funding global brand ambassadors and committing to sustainable growth. The sector has seen the immense opportunity that is Irish whiskey and I look forward to its contribution to the development of the 2025 Agri-Food Strategy process.” Fine words from a government minister who can see the tax receipts rolling in.

Bernard Walsh, of Walsh Whiskey, is also chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association. He says: “In the past decade, the category grew by almost 200%. In 2014, more than 6.7m 9-litre cases of Irish whiskey were exported to more than 100 countries around the world. This figure is set to exceed 12m cases by 2020 and 24m cases by 2030. Three years ago, the island of Ireland had four distilleries in operation – in the next three years that number will grow to over 15 if all the current projects move forward.

“The key to our success is to ensure that this growth is sustainable – economically and environmentally. To do this, we need a cohesive strategy, incorporating the industry, government and its agencies, to act as a ‘light hand on the tiller’ to reach our targets.”

Both look at Scotland and see the opportunity for Irish whiskey as massive. “We see the world-leading scotch industry exporting more than 90m 9-litre cases annually, with exports

of £4.3bn every year, gross value

added of £3bn to the Scottish economy,” says Walsh.

“There are more than 130 Scottish distilleries that bring investment and employment into rural areas. The UK is proud of scotch as one of its most successful exports. There is no reason that Ireland cannot achieve similar success.”

Commenting on a IWSR/Just Drinks report on Irish whiskey in April, Miriam Mooney, head of the Irish Whiskey Association, said: “Irish whiskey is reaching new consumers and new markets, with distinct and accessible products and strong brands. The existing players in the industry have driven a renaissance in the sector and Irish whiskey exports are set to double by 2020 and double again by 2030. In the past decade, the category grew by almost 200%.

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