Spirits high in Irish whiskey as domestic sales soar by 41%

Jameson, Bushmills, Teelings, Tullamore Dew, Knappogue Castle and Writers Tears all performed well in 2017

Demand for premium Irish whiskey brands such as Green Spot and Redbreast soared domestically last year, as sales jumped 41 per cent to more than 700,000 bottles.

Bushmills, Teelings, Tullamore Dew, Knappogue Castle and Writers Tears all performed strongly locally in 2017.

Jameson, the most popular Irish whiskey, continued to outshine all competition, however, with a 10.2 per cent increase in sales domestically.This was fuelled in part by the success of its Caskmates line. This is a variation of the flagship whiskey that is aged in craft beer-seasoned barrels.

Sales of the product jumped 110 per cent in volume terms and 103 per cent in the 12 months to June 2017.


According to new figures compiled by the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA), overall sales of the spirit rose by 6 per cent to 6.4 million bottles in 2017.

The IWA, which originally set a target of doubling global sales of the spirit from six million nine-litre cases to 12 million by 2020, recently announced plans to double them again to 24 million by 2030.

Health warnings

"We are seeing a major shift away from low-price, high-volume consumption as consumers are increasingly willing to pay for quality, innovative premium products," said William Lavelle, head of the association.

However, he warned the boom in premium Irish whiskey sales could be jeopardised by provisions in the Public Health Alcohol Bill to cover one-third of printed material on Irish whiskey bottles with health warnings.

“This would seriously damage the prestige and presentation of premium brands. At a time when drinking trends are changing for the positive, and Irish spirits export are facing increased threats of tariffs, this regressive and disproportionate intervention is the last thing we need in the domestic market,” said Mr Lavelle.

A number of new whiskey distilleries have opened in Ireland in recent years, with the Dublin Liberties Distillery confirming on Monday that it would opened in October, creating up to 20 jobs.

Copper stills

Three-tonne copper stills arrived at the distillery over the weekend, following a 1,515km journey from Germany. They will have a production capacity of up to 700,000 litres annually, and the distillery is targeting 80,000 visitors in its first year.

It will produce all of the company’s brands including The Dubliner Irish Whiskey, The Dublin Liberties and The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey.

Shane Hoyne, chief marketing officer for Quintessential Brands, majority owner of DLD, said: “For too long, the Irish Whiskey industry has been happy to plod along, offering little in the way of character to entice consumers around the world to really consider buying into Irish whiskey. The DLD is going to change all that and show ...that the most exciting, characterful whiskeys are being made right here, at the Dublin Liberties Distillery.”

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist