Belfast Telegraph

Global thirst for Irish whiskey helps push turnover at Bushmills up by £4m

Bushmills Distillery
Bushmills Distillery
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

Turnover at Bushmills rose by almost £4m last year, new accounts for the whiskey maker show.

The Old Bushmills Distillery Company Ltd took in £31.6m in the 12 months to December 31, 2017, up from £27.8m the year before.

Pre-tax profits were slightly down, from £5.8m to £5.3m, but the distillery is continuing to grow and expand.

Now employing 110 people, Bushmills was given the green light in August to build 29 new maturation warehouses at the famous Co Antrim site. As well as its own famous brands, the distillery is also now producing and bottling UFC star Conor McGregor's new whiskey brand, Proper Twelve.

William Lavelle of the Irish Whiskey Association said the rise in revenue is part of an ongoing renaissance in the industry.

"Sales of Irish whiskey this year are growing at a quarter of a million bottles per week around the world. We're selling to 140 markets globally," he said.

"This year will be the first year we will have exceeded 10 million cases in over one hundred years.

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"We set a target as an industry of reaching 12 million cases by 2020. We're well on course not just to meet that target, but exceed it.

"That is down to the stellar performance of some of the leading iconic brands that we have on the island - Jameson, Tullamore Dew and Bushmills."

It's almost four years since Bushmills was sold to Mexican drinks giant Becle, best known for the tequila brand Jose Cuervo.

Mr Lavelle said the multinationals had brought additional investment and helped open new routes to market.

He said while the USA and continental Europe remain the biggest importers, many new markets are emerging.

"Sales of Irish whiskey have trebled in Mexico over the last five years, with brands like Black Bush doing very well.

"We're seeing emerging markets like Russia, Canada, Australia all recording double-digit growth, and in some cases, over 20%. It's a good time to be in the industry."

The whiskey expert said there were now 20 active distilleries on the island.

"There was only four back at the start of this decade. We'll have another half-a-dozen opening over the next six months.

"They're all driving competition and innovation and it's producing a very exciting range of whiskeys.

"We're very excited by the growth that's happening in Bushmills. It's great to see the expansion that's going on there.

"Bushmills is one of the most iconic brands in the world and it's great to see it doing well."

Belfast Telegraph