Brands Report: Irish Whiskey

08 January, 2018

The growing Irish Whiskey category gets its first page to itself this year. Hamish Smith explains why

Irish Whiskey's astronomic rise means you can now expect more than a bottle of Jameson at the world’s best bars. The Pernod Ricard-owned brand remains the core of the category, but soon operational distilleries will number more than 30 in this expanding category. With exports around 7m 9-litre cases a year and a forecast to reach 12m cases by 2020, it was about time we gave Irish whiskey its own page in the Brands Report.

Jameson, as it did in the World Whisky category, dominates the Best Selling charts here. Almost 60% of bars polled said Jameson was their best-selling Irish whiskey; more than 70% among their top three. Almost a third said Jameson was also their trending Irish whiskey, proving it isn’t using a bigger budget to strong-arm its way to popularity.

Pot still brand Redbreast is the standout performer of the chasing pack. More than a third of polled bars said the Pernod Ricard brand was among their top three sellers, with 7% making it their best seller. Bushmills, in third, may be suffering from its departure from the Diageo portfolio, though the Jose Cuervo-owned brand is still more likely to figure in the inventories of our polled bartenders than Tullamore Dew. The William Grant brand was actually a more likely house pour than Bushmills, but was less likely to be a member of any one bar’s supporting cast.

The rest of the category is made up of familiar pot still whiskies, with one exception: Roe & Co. Diageo’s new Irish brand was found to be a top three best seller at 7% of the polled bars. Expect that figure to rise as the mega-group puts its full force behind the brand. Pernod Ricard launched Method & Madness around the same time – though it hasn’t, it appears, seduced elite bartenders. It wasn’t even close to making our first Irish Whiskey list.



The results of this report are the culmination of a questionnaire of 106 bars around the world, each cherry-picked to take part based on their performance in global bar awards. We aim to find out not only which brands sell best but also what’s trending. These two data sets give us an insight into the brands that are doing the most volume and the brands that are hot right now.

To read more on the methodology of the Brands Report click here.

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.