This week our Irish Whiskey News features articles on the new producers redefining the industry and sales of Irish whiskey pass the €1 billion mark in the US.
So let’s see what’s happening this week in our Irish whiskey news.
During the heyday in the mid-1800s, nearly 90 licensed distilleries dotted Ireland’s countryside, according to the trade group Irish Whiskey Association (IWA). Most were independent operations. But those numbers whittled steadily over time, thanks to a range of political, social and economic factors. First, Ireland’s independence cut off the British Empire’s market. Then, Prohibition in America further cooled demand for an Irish whiskey, and unlike some nations, Ireland refused to play ball with bootleggers. By the mid-1900s, Ireland’s weak economy and an isolationist policy, which led to an export ban as well as high domestic taxes, had only made things worse. The country’s distilleries shuttered in vast numbers, and those that survived did so by consolidation. In 1975, only three Irish distilling entities remained.
Since then, and particularly in the last decade, the industry has had a comeback. Driven in part by a worldwide boom and the success of legacy brand Jameson, the energy behind what once made the category exciting has returned. And, as of January, the IWA counted 21 operational facilities, with another 26 in various stages of planning to open in the near future. These producers are eager to make their mark on the country’s signature spirit. Since good whiskey takes time to make and age, many upstarts work with at least some distillate made elsewhere to blend whiskeys or add unique finishes. Yet, each pushes Irish whiskey forward in their own way. Discover five of the innovative distilleries shaping the way it looks today, and what it may become in the future.
Sales of Irish whiskey in the US rose 12 per cent last year passing the $1 billion milestone for the first time. However, Jameson, which has led the renaissance, is seeing a slowdown in growth in the US with analysts attributing it in part to the launch of Conor McGregor’s Proper No Twelve brand last year.
Recent figures from the Distilled Spirits Council show that nearly 4.7 million nine-litre case were sold in the US in 2018 generating $1.01 billion in revenues for distillers. This marks a 9.4 per cent increase versus the prior year and compares with combined sales of just $74 million in 2003. According to the council’s data, the category has benefited from drinkers’ desire to “trade up” from entry-level brands to so-called “high-end premium” and “super premium” products. Indeed, since 2002, high-end premium and super-premium brands grew 1,106 per cent and 3,385 per cent, respectively.
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