Belfast Telegraph

US thirst for Irish whiskey soon to see it overtake Scotch sales

William Lavelle, IWA
William Lavelle, IWA

By Fearghal O'Connor

US sales of Irish whiskey will soon outrank those of Scotch, according to a new report.

Close to seven million cases of Irish whiskey will be sold per annum in the US by 2023 - up from about 4.7 million last year, according to the market assessments report undertaken by the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA), in partnership with International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR).

The report said: "If current IWSR projections were to continue then sales of Irish whiskey in the US can overtake sales of Scotch whisky in coming years - for the first time since before prohibition in the 1920s," said the report.

Whiskey accounted for €647m (£550m) of exports last year from 24 distilleries across the island. The US is by far the largest market, accounting for 42.5% of sales in 2017, up from 33% in 2012.

IWA head William Lavelle welcomed the finding but said that the association was "telling our members not to put all eggs in the US basket".

"The industry is also targeting growth in Latin America, Asia and Africa, where there has been a shift from drinks such as beer to premium spirits brands."

The US remains the key growth engine for Irish whiskey sales, accounting for 58% of the growth between 2013 to 2017. IWSR's preliminary US sales total for Irish whiskey for 2018 is 80,000 cases above their previous projection made during 2018.

Northern Ireland's biggest distillery is the Old Bushmills site in Co Antrim. It is to double production over the next five years after plans were approved last month for a major extension.

Belfast Telegraph