Premiumisation will lead Irish whiskey growth in 2020

2nd December, 2019 by Melita Kiely

Continued premiumisation will be the key driver behind Irish whiskey’s growth in 2020, predicts Irish Distillers chairman and CEO Conor McQuaid.

Jameson Irish whiskey

Jameson Irish whiskey is part of the Irish Distillers portfolio

McQuaid said Irish Distillers has seen growth across its prestige ranges this year, including Redbreast and the Spot range, and expects a greater demand for premium and super-premium products next year – particularly from the millennial generation.

Speaking to The Spirits Business last month, McQuaid said: “What we can say at this stage, though, is that we very much expect to see premiumisation continue to drive the category in 2020, building on the growth we have seen across our prestige ranges this year (+25%), led by Redbreast (+25%) and the Spot range (+40%).

“This reflects the increase in consumer appetite, particularly among millennials, for premium and super-premium Irish whiskeys.”

Key challenges

One of the biggest challenges facing Irish Distillers is ensuring production capacity can match the growth of the firm’s whiskey brands, McQuaid said.


Conor McQuaid, Irish Distillers chairman and CEO

The company has invested more than €400 million (US$440m) in its Midleton Distillery, Dungourney maturation site and bottling plant in Dublin since 2012 in an effort to keep pace with growing demand.

“This approach continues; we are laying down stock that will be used decades from now, as we anticipate even greater growth in the Irish whiskey market in the future,” McQuaid added. “This will allow us to offer consumers the whiskeys they love today, as well as innovative new styles of Irish whiskey in the future.

“Sustainability also presents an opportunity for the category and the spirits market in general to stand out from the crowd, as consumers are interested in and attracted to brands that are reducing their environmental impact.”

McQuaid remained cryptic about upcoming launches from Irish Distillers.

However, he said: “We also have a number of new launches planned across our portfolio in 2020, the details of which we look forward to unveiling in due course.”

Last year, in an interview with The Spirits Business, McQuaid revealed his hopes to turn Jameson into a “truly global” brand.

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