Whiskey sales in Ireland rise 5.4% to 6.62m bottles

Jameson retains market leader slot in image flip from a ‘dad drink’ to a younger profile

Domestic sales of Irish whiskey rose by 5.4 per cent last year from 551,900 nine-litre cases (6.62 million bottles) to 581,750 cases (6.98 million bottles).

The new figures, which have been compiled by research company International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR), show sales of premium-and-above priced whiskey such as the Redbreast brand, jumped 21.7 per cent year-on-year from 62.95 cases to 76.65 cases.

Industry experts welcomed the latest figures with Irish Distillers managing director for Ireland, Claire Tolan, describing it as evidence of a major turnaround for the category locally.

“It is great to see us growing in our domestic market because 10 years ago the Irish market wasn’t in great shape and whiskey was largely seen as being something that your dad drank,” she said.


"It was once considered sacrilegious to add in anything other than ice to the drink but I think the work that we and others have done to make whiskey more attractive to younger people through for example showing how Jameson mixes well with ginger and lime, has done a lot to encourage more people to try it," Ms Tolan added.

While Irish Distillers-owned Jameson remains the market leader domestically, there was growth recorded right across the category with Powers, Tullamore Dew, Teeling, Kilbeggan, Writers' Tears and Redbreast all recording double-digit growth.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) champion Conor McGregor's Proper No 12 whiskey, which launched last September, recorded sales of 2,800 nine-litre cases domestically in its first few months on the market.

Sales of Jameson rose 11 per cent last year to 235,400 nine-litre cases, giving the brand a 40.5 per cent market share domestically. It was followed by Bushmills, whose sales dropped 5 per cent to 95,600 cases from 105,000 a year earlier to give it 16.4 per cent share of the market.

Sales of Powers jumped 12.3 per cent to 82,000 cases to make it the third most popular whiskey brand at home, while Paddy and Teeling round out the top five with sales of 43,800 and 19,600 cases respectively. The latest figures show sales of Paddy slipped 14 per cent versus the prior year while Teeling was up 15 per cent.

Other notable sales increases included Tullamore Dew which jumped 43 per cent in volume terms to 13,800 cases, Kilbeggan, up 23 per cent to 12,000 cases, and Writers’ Tears, and Redbreast, which were up 21 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.

"While the growth in sales of Irish whiskey is a global phenomenon, it is very important that our home market continues to be so strong," said William Lavelle, head of Ibec-affiliated Irish Whiskey Association, which represents the industry.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist