Skip to main content

Whiskey Around the World: Irish Whiskey

Our annual content series, Whiskey Around the World, is a celebration of everyone’s favorite spirit—whiskey!

Premium spirits continue to drive overall beverage industry growth as the uncertainty of pandemic lockdowns fades into the rearview mirror. Whiskey is a key engine of this growth thanks to craft cocktail culture’s impact on the world’s bar scene and the surge in popularity of spirits from regions like Japan and Ireland, which many connoisseurs are only now discovering for the first time. The age-old friendly rivalry of who invented whiskey remains as vibrant as the jostling over who invented vodka or pisco.

We’re not picking sides, but it is reputed that traveling monks brought the art of distillation to both Ireland and Scotland. Pre-Prohibition the choice for Americans was clearly Irish whiskey, which once commanded over 60% market share here before eventually cratering to just 2%. In the meantime, Scotland stepped up and essentially became synonymous with whiskey drinking in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The world of whiskey looks very different today. Irish whiskey producers, once in the throes of consolidation, are now leading the way. In 2023, the size of the global Irish whiskey market grew to over $5 billion for the first time and the projections for growth in the next decade are very strong with an expected annual growth rate of 6.7%.

In this country from 2021 to 2022, the luxury tier of spirits as defined by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) showed strong annualized growth of 4%. According to the report, “the luxury spirits category continued to grow in this challenging environment on the back of strong demand for tequila, American whiskey, and Irish whiskey in particular.” Irish whiskey itself experienced terrific 21% year on year growth.

Irish whiskey has come a long way since the wave of consolidation resulted in just two remaining functioning distilleries in the 1980s. Today there are more than three dozen and the category is growing quickly as consumers flock to new launches, bottlings with innovative uses of wood, and longer-aged whiskeys.

Thanks to new releases like the first 100% Irish rye whiskey, Powers Irish Rye, and long-aged Irish whiskeys from Knappogue Castle, the category is generating a new level of excitement among consumers. Knappogue Castle, in addition to its 21 year, also has developed a cask finish series with the whiskeys finished in everything from Barolo to Marsala to barrels from Château Pichon Baron, a second growth Grand Cru from Bordeaux.

The Irish whiskey industry once seemed to be in an inescapable downward spiral, but today a new generation of innovators have shown the true potential for the spirit. Slainte!

The post Whiskey Around the World: Irish Whiskey appeared first on Chilled Magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.