Close Menu

Irish spirits exports rise by 25% in 2021

Exports of Irish spirits returned to growth last year after soaring by a quarter to surpass pre-pandemic levels, according to a new report.

Irish spirits
Excise taxes on spirits in Ireland are the third highest in the European Union

The Spirits Market Report 2021 from trade body Drinks Ireland|Spirits revealed overall exports of Irish spirits were valued at around €1.2 billion (US$1.2bn) last year.

Domestic spirits sales rebounded last year, up by 8% to 2.55 million litres sold, as on-trade venues in the country reopened in the second half of 2021.

The increases reversed the drop in sales seen in 2020, surpassing both domestic sales and export figures recorded in 2019.

Bryan Fallon, managing director of Heaven Hill Ireland, owner of Carolan’s Irish cream liqueur and Irish Mist honey liqueur, and chair of Drinks Ireland|Spirits, said: “Last year was another challenging one for Ireland’s spirits sector, which again demonstrated strong resilience in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was positive to see a rebound in domestic sales and exports in the second half of the year as hospitality venues reopened.”

Vodka (29.9%), Irish whiskey (25.04%) and gin (14.43%) were the most consumed spirits in Ireland. The only spirits category to decline in Ireland was Scotch whisky, which fell by 10%.

Furthermore, the trade group noted overall alcohol consumption continued to decline in Ireland, down by 4.7% last year, according to data from Irish tax and customs authority Revenue.

Irish whiskey, Irish cream and poitín reported global sales went up by 21% collectively last year. The US, the UK and Canada were the top three markets for the GI-protected categories.

Global sales of Irish whiskey reached 14m cases in 2021, an increase of 22.81%. Poitín recorded a 94.17% increase in 2021. Irish cream (up 18.38% in 2021) is expected to hit 10m cases for the first time this year.

Last year, sales of ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails and long drinks in Ireland soared by 60%, while hard seltzers climbed by 46% and flavoured alcoholic beverages rose by 27%.

Sales of Irish RTD brands increased by 7.4% last year.

No- and low-alcoholic ‘spirits’ sales rocketed by 313% last year, but from a low base.

Global travel retail experienced a ‘better than expected recovery’ last year, however sales did not come close to pre-pandemic levels.

Vincent McGovern, director of spirits at Drinks Ireland, said: “In 2021, almost all the various spirit categories saw an increase in sales, which was positive to see after the impact of Covid.

“As a strong export-led industry, free and open trade remains vital. As such a number of challenges remain for the sector, including the continued fallout from Brexit.”

Fallon called for an excise cut for spirits in the upcoming budget to help support the economy.

“With the third highest excise on spirits in the EU, Ireland levies a disproportionate percentage of the tax burden on distilleries who are promoting Ireland on the global stage,” he added.

The world’s biggest Irish whiskey brand, Jameson, is targeting 15m cases by 2030.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No