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Irish whiskey sales to double by 2020

Irish whiskey exports are predicted to double by 2020, with 11 new distilleries commencing production in the next few years.

Tullamore Dew is one of 11 new Irish whiskey distilleries due to begin production in the next few years

According to the Irish Spirits Association (ISA), Ireland currently exports 6.2 million nine-litre cases of Irish whiskey to more than 100 markets.

But the wave of new distilleries receiving planning permission in the country is expected to double exports to over 12 million cases by 2020.

The ISA recognises four operating distilleries currently producing Irish whiskey – Midleton (Pernod Ricard), Cooley (Beam), Kilbeggan (Beam), and Bushmill’s (Diageo), although Dingle Distillery (Co. Kerry), Alltech Craft Distillery (Carlow) and Echlinville Distillery (Ards Peninsula in Northern Ireland) are all producing liquid that is not yet old enough for sale as whiskey.

The number of distilleries operating is expected to grow to 15 in the next few years as several receive planning permission and complete construction.

Peter Morehead, chairman of the ISA and director of production at Irish Distillers, said: “What’s especially exciting is the fact that the Irish whiskey industry has been flourishing as of late, experiencing somewhat of a renaissance. This has led to extremely positive growth prospects.”

At a meeting of the ISA and Scotch Whisky Association yesterday (Monday), an annual tradition that coincides with the Irish and Scottish Six Nations rugby match, Morehead said there is “a plethora of lessons” the industry could learn from its Celtic cousins.

“Irish spirits companies contribute over €1bn to the Exchequer every year, supporting the employment of 14,700 people across production and sales,” he said. “However, when we compare the whiskey industry to that of Scotch whisky, it becomes clear that there is a space for huge potential growth in the sector.”


He added that while the US and UK are currently the largest markets for Irish whiskey exports, emerging markets such as Russia and China, where Scotch is growing its market share, offer huge potential for the category.

Campbell Evans, director of international affairs at the SWA, said the two whisky industries must work together and learn from one another to achieve growth in the future.

“The two industries have opportunities for considerable growth in the coming years both in terms of new distilleries being built in Scotland and Ireland, and in new markets expanding,” he said.

Some of the new Irish whiskey distilleries planned include Tullamore Dew (William Grant; due for completion in 2014), Niche Drinks distillery (Londonderry), Slane Castle (County Meath, due for completion in 2014), The Teeling Whiskey Distillery (Dublin, due for completion in 2014), and The Irish Whiskey Company (Dundalk, due for completion in 2014).

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