Teeling Whiskey is planning to double its sales to €30 million annually by 2020 by aggressively targeting the US and Irish markets and airport retail sales with the initial batch of its own whiskey from its Dublin distillery.
"We are going to aggressively go after growth opportunities now," Teeling's founder and chief executive Jack Teeling told The Irish Times. "This year is a landmark one for us with out own whiskey coming of age. It's going to be a transformational phase in our evolution."
Teeling plans a commercial release of 6,000 bottles of Teeling Single Pot Still, the first three-year-old whiskey produced at its distillery in central Dublin.
Teeling has operated for the past six years, using supplies from other Irish whiskey makers under its own brand. The company built its own distillery in 2015, laying 2.5 million litres of whiskey over the past three years.
Accounts just filed for Teeling Whiskey Company Ltd show that it increased its turnover by 2 per cent to €14.8 million in 2017. This was in spite of its exiting a distribution agreement in the US, which disrupted its activity there.
Teeling's turnover in Ireland rose by 19 per cent to just more than €5 million, and by 1 per cent in Europe. Sales in the rest of the world, which includes retail sales in airports, soared by 45 per cent to €5.8 million.
The company’s after-tax profit almost halved to €932,987, reflecting a ramping up of investment in production and sales and marketing, and costs associated with exiting the distribution agreement.
Shareholders' funds rose by €5.9 million to €13.6 million, reflecting an investment in the business by global spirits group Bacardi.
Mr Teeling said the company sold about 850,000 bottles of whiskey last year, and expects this to grow to around 1 million this year.
“We expect to sell substantially more than than in 2019,” Mr Teeling said.
Teeling also had a busy year in 2017 at its visitor centre, which attracted 125,000 visits. Mr Teeling expects a similar number again this year, with the exceptionally hot weather during the summer affecting its numbers.
Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirt category globally. Figures from International Wine and Spirits Research show that 9.7 million cases of Irish whiskey were sold around the world in 2017, up 10.6 per cent on the previous year.
The US was by far the biggest market with 4.1 million, up 12.5 per cent year on year. Ireland was second with 548,000 cases, up 5.1 per cent on 2016. Global travel retail sales amounted to 659,000 cases, up 12 per cent year on year.
There are 20 distilleries in operation across Ireland with another 26 at planning or construction stage. Some 814,000 people visited the various distilleries last year, up 11 per cent on a year earlier.