Irish whiskey the toast of the town again as sales rise

New figures show whiskey sales jumped 11.2% last year, with Jameson leading

Sales of Irish whiskey continued to soar last year led by Jameson which recorded a 12.4 per cent rise in volumes globally, according to new figures.

Data supplied by International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR), a leading supplier of data and market intelligence on the alcoholic drinks markets, show combined sales of nine-litre cases of Irish whiskey increased 11.2 per cent from 7.8 million to 8.7 million in 2016.

The jump in volumes was boosted by a big increase in exports in the US, the most popular destination for Irish whiskey. Overall, volumes rose 17.6 per cent stateside to 3.66 million from 3.1 million.

There was also a bounce from emerging markets such as Kenya where volumes rose 15.6 per cent, albeit from a low base of just 61,250.


Sales in Ireland, the second best country for Irish whiskey after the US, increased 3.4 per cent to 521,250 from 504,225 a year earlier.

In France, the third most popular destination, sales declined 1.9 per cent to 381,250 from 388,500.

Rounding out the top five countries for Irish whiskey currently are the UK and South Africa, where volumes rose 5.2 per cent and 12.8 per cent respectively between 2015 and 2016.

Growth was recorded in 17 of the leading destinations, with notables rises in Canada (up 13.2 per cent to 201,500 cases), Poland (up 22.5 per cent to 102,250), Slovakia (up 22.9 per cent to 76,000), and Kenya (up 19.4 per cent to 61,500).

Irish whiskey is currently sold in 135 countries and exports are expected to double to 144 million bottles by 2020,

Jameson continued to account for the lion’s share of sales with volumes rising from 5.2 million to 5.8 million last year.

Tullamore Dew was the second most popular brand, up 8 per cent last year to 1.02 million, followed by Bushmills (up 5.6 per cent to 739,210 cases), Paddy (down 7 per cent to 194,660) and Powers, (down 3.5 per cent to 101,240).

Jean-Christophe Coutures, the head of Irish Distillers, whose brands include Jameson, Redbreast and Green Spot, said the company was proud to be leading the renaissance in Irish whiskey through its diverse portfolio.

“The IWSR figures demonstrate the continued momentum behind Irish whiskey globally, further underlining the commitment of established and emerging distilleries to further the spirit’s success on the global stage. The Irish whiskey category has built a reputation for unrivalled quality and relentless innovation with exports set to double by 2020 and double again by 2030,” he said.

Leading Irish whiskey brands by volume

Jameson Whiskey 5.8 million cases

Tullamore Dew 1.02 million cases

Bushmillls 739,000 cases

Paddy Whiskey 194,660 cases

Powers Whiskey 101,240 cases

Kilbeggan Whiskey 81,840 cases

2 Gingers Whiskey 39,000 cases

Redbreast Whiskey 37,600 cases

Clontarf Whiskey 31,100 cases

Teeling Whiskey 30,900 cases

Top destinations for Irish whiskey worldwide

US 3.6 million cases

Ireland 521,250 cases

France 381,250 cases

UK 341,250 cases

South Africa 335,000 cases

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist