Sales of Irish whiskey surge in US on back of premium brands

Irish whiskey one of the star performers among spirits as volumes jump 11.3%

Sales of Irish whiskey jumped 12.8 per cent to $897 million (€718 million) in the US last year as volumes rose 11.3 per cent to 4.2 million cases.

New industry figures show Irish whiskey was one of the star performers in the US in 2017 with sales largely concentrated on so-called "high-end premium" and "super premium" products, according to figures from national trade association, the Distilled Spirits Council.

Volumes of high-end premium Irish whiskey brands that typically cost under $200 shot up by 8.2 per cent, while super premium brands such as Redbreast, which cost more than $200, jumped by 46.5 per cent.

Irish whiskey is sold in 135 countries and exports are expected to double to 144 million bottles by 2020. The US is by far and away the most popular destination for Irish whiskey, followed by Ireland, France, the UK and South Africa.


Jameson is the top Irish whiskey in US and across the world with sales of 6.5 million cases last year.

"We're proud that Jameson continues its phenomenal growth story, experiencing 28 years of consecutive growth with 71 markets across the world achieving double- and triple-digit growth," said director of Rosemary Garth, director of communications at Irish Distillers.

Prestige brands

“We are also encouraged to see strong growth in our prestige whiskey brands like Redbreast, Powers and the Spot range reflecting the growing consumer trend towards premium Irish whiskeys and the resurgence of the time-honoured single pot still Irish whiskey.”

According to the latest data from the Distilled Spirits Council, spirits gained market share against beer for the eighth successive year.

Key drivers of growth included American whiskey, which jumped 8.1 percent or $252 million to revenues of $3.4 billion, tequila, up 9.9 per cent or $246 million to $2.7 billion, and cognac, up 13.8 per cent.

The council projected a new export record of $1.63 billion of US spirits sold around the globe last year on the back of sales of American whiskey.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist