Emerald Aisles

01 August, 2016

“The potential is massive when we compare Ireland to Scotland, with more than 115 Scottish distilleries in operation, bringing investment and employment into rural areas. The industry will continue to work together to promote further growth.”

In June the IWSR’s 2016 US Beverage Alcohol Review, showed exports of Irish whiskey continuing to grow significantly in the US, increasing by 19% last year to surpass the 3m nine-litre-case mark.

Irish Distillers international marketing director Simon Fay tells Drinks International: “Looking at the category as a whole, all indicators are pointing to the continued growth of Irish whiskey. The arrival of new entrants will bring further competition to a budding category, but maintaining quality will be a key prerequisite to sustaining this growth. At Irish Distillers, we are committed to innovation and look forward to launching even more releases for whiskey fans to enjoy over the coming year.”


In late 2011 Beam, now Beam Suntory, bought the Cooley distillery in Louth, controlled by the Teeling family in a deal estimated at $95m.

The brands included: Kilbeggan, Connemara, Tyrconnell and Greenore.

With their proceeds, the Teelings then bought an old brewery in Dundalk, retro fitted it as a distillery and have built a medium-sized distillery with pot stills in central Dublin.

Stephen Teeling of the Teeling Whiskey Company says: “What we are seeing is a new generation of whiskey drinkers. The 25 to 35-year-olds are not interested in what went before. The older generation are more traditional. Younger people are asking: ‘What are you doing now?’

“Scotch is for older people. We are finding younger people are coming to Irish whiskey, small-batch bourbon, Canadian and Japanese whisky,” he adds.

In September 2014, William Grant opened its €35m Tullamore distillery in County Offaly to produce 1.5m cases of Tullamore Dew. In November 2014, tequila producer Jose Cuervo took over Bushmills in a complicated deal with Diageo. In June 2015 Brown-Forman announced plans to produce whiskey at Slane Distillery. This May Pernod Ricard, owner of Irish Distillers, announced the sale of Paddy’s, the fourth largest Irish whiskey brand, to Sazerac.

In recent months, we have seen the opening of two more distilleries in Ireland: Echlinville in County Down and Walsh at Royal Oak in County Carlow. Echlinville becomes Northern Ireland’s second biggest spirits producer after Jose Cuervo’s Bushmills, with the capacity to produce approximately 15,000 bottles of whiskey, gin, vodka and poitín every week.

Walsh, with its strategic partner, Italian drinks producer Illva Saronno, will produce all three styles of Irish whiskey – pot still, grain and malt – using two distilling lines (pot still and column still). The distillery’s 650,000-case capacity (2.5m litres of pure alcohol or 8m bottles) is said to be equivalent to 10% of global Irish whiskey exports (2014). Walsh will use the additional capacity to bolster supplies to core markets (US, Russia and Europe) and target major Asian markets, including India and China from 2019, it says.

In terms of opportunities, Irish Distillers’ Fay says: “The US has clearly been a major engine of growth for the category, but markets such as South Africa, Russia and global travel retail represent significant markets for Irish Distillers. New growth markets in Canada and sub-Saharan Africa are particularly attractive, as are the mature European markets which are slowly emerging from the effects of the economic crash.”

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