Irish whiskey sector ‘fails to protect small brands’

16th January, 2017 by Amy Hopkins

The growth of Irish whiskey is “under threat” since the industry has a “market structure that fails to protect small independent brands”, The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey has warned.


The Irish whiskey sector “fails to protect small brands”, according to Andre Levy

The criticism comes at the same time as Irish food board Bord Bia publishes a new report stating that Irish whiskey exports are set to double by 2020, and increased by 8% in 2016.

Andre Levy, chairman of Protégé International, parent company of The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey, said that the dominance of brands owned by large multi-nationals in the Irish whiskey category means that small players do not have sufficient access to mature third party whiskey stocks.

“We are delighted to see the on-going growth in the popularity of Irish whiskey, growth that has been led by brands such as The Wild Geese and other independents,” said Levy. “However the current market structure favours the large dominant players and actively inhibits the development of new brands.”

“The Bord Bia report shows the potential for Irish whiskey, projecting that exports will double by 2020. However, the reality facing the Irish whiskey market is that all of the major distilleries on the island of Ireland are owned by multinationals. This dominance limits access to stocks of mature Irish whiskey, which is needed by developing brands to survive and grow.”

Levy also says that while many Irish whiskey distilleries are planned to open, this inability to access mature stocks will mean a number “will not survive.”

He adds that while the Irish Whiskey Association’s ‘Vision for Irish Whiskey’ report recognised the need for a wholesale bulk whiskey market in Ireland, similar to that in Scotland, large producers are opposed to such a suggestion.

“This cannot be allowed to continue and we are therefore calling for an Irish wholesale bulk whiskey market to be made a reality so as to safeguard independent brands and deliver on the potential of the industry at a global level.”

In 2015, Compecon complied a report for The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey showing that the Irish whiskey industry is “dwarfed” by Scotch whisky since the latter benefits from a “proper functioning wholesale market” which been “crucial” to its success.

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