Global Irish whiskey sales soar 300% in 10 years

13th June, 2019 by Melita Kiely

Worldwide sales of Irish whiskey have risen by more than 300% in the last 10 years, the Department for International Trade (DIT) has reported.

Rare whisky

Northern Ireland whiskey is a growing sector of the Irish whiskey category

Northern Ireland whiskey distilleries in particular have been praised for helping to boost the growth of Irish whiskey, which is forecast to double to 12 million nine-litre cases by 2020, according to the Irish Whiskey Association.

Dr Liam Fox MP, international trade secretary, said: “I met with Old Bushmills Distillery at the Balmoral Show last month [May] and was impressed by the company’s exporting ambitions. I am pleased to see more distilleries contributing to economic prosperity for Northern Ireland and helping the UK maintain its global reputation for high-quality food and drink.

“The UK now has an international economic department – the Department for International Trade – helping British business succeed overseas in ways that never happened before, so I urge more businesses in Northern Ireland to take advantage of the global demand for their products and services.”

Exports of spirits from ports including Belfast, Londonderry, Warrenpoint and Coleraine to non-EU countries were worth £25.6 million (US$32.4m) in 2018, the DIT said.

South Africa is the fastest-growing non-EU market for Irish whiskey, with exports valued at £17.6m (U$22.3m) in 2018 – up 27.8% from the previous year. Australia, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, Taiwan and the US were also noted for helping to drive global demand.

Michael Bell, executive director of Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association, said: “Northern Ireland has always had a great reputation for world class distilleries. A recent surge in global demand, along with increased investment and innovation within the sector, has seen it flourish and grow on a global scale.

“This presents exciting opportunities for our local producers. Bushmills’ expansion plans are a very positive development for the local economy and will enable the company to take advantage of the rocketing demand for Irish whiskey worldwide.

“Northern Ireland’s food and drink companies export around 80% of their products, so cementing good trading relationships with our key export markets in the future is crucial for the sector.

“We continue to engage with the government on behalf of our members to ensure that this vital industry is given the best chance to grow and prosper in future.”

New distilleries are also helping to drive the Irish whiskey category’s popularity, the DIT said, with Old Bushmills, Echlinville, Rademon Estate and Boatyard Distilleries currently receiving more than 120,000 visitors every year. This number is expected to increase to 200,000 “in the near future”.

In April this year, the European Commission approved Irish whiskey as a geographical indication, along with Irish cream and Irish poitín.

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