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  • Irish whiskey sales up 10.6 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year, putting industry on course to exceed 2020 growth target;
  • United States remains the number one market for Irish whiskey;
  • Russia jumps to third leading market meaning both of Irish whiskey top two export markets face threats to free trade

The Irish whiskey industry sold 9.7 million cases of whiskey globally in 2017, a 10.6 percent increase on the previous year, according to figures compiled by International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR).

Irish whiskey remains the world’s fastest-growing spirit category and the 2017 global total exceed interim sales targets set by the Irish Whiskey Association for 2017 of 9 million cases (an overshoot of almost 8.2 million bottles). This growth trajectory puts the industry in a strong position to surpass its 2020 targets of 12 million cases (144 million bottles).

Commenting, William Lavelle, Head of the Irish Whiskey Association, said:

“In 2014 the Irish whiskey industry set an ambitious target for export growth by 2020. We are well on course to meet and exceed those targets.”

“200 bottles of Irish whiskey are sold every minute. All around the world, one of Ireland’s best-known products is enjoying new life and unprecedented popularity with more people are learning about and acquiring a taste for Irish whiskey, be they in a Dublin pub, or a bar in New York, Shanghai or Moscow.”

“The Irish whiskey renaissance has truly gone global and this is very much down to exceptional craftsmanship and product innovation of Ireland’s distilleries, both large and small; and the hard work being put-in on the ground and in the markets by our worldwide network of brand ambassadors.”

Irish whiskey is enjoying a global renaissance, with sales in over 135 markets. According to IWSR, the leading markets for Irish whiskey in 2017 were:

 

Country 9 litre cases sold (12 bottles) % Increase on 2016
1 United States 4.1 million 12.5%
2 Ireland 548,000 5.1%
3 Russia 404,000 19.5%
4 France 383,000 0.1%
5 United Kingdom 369,000 8.2%
6 South Africa 353,000 5.4%
7 Germany 337,000 11.9%
8 Canada 238,000 15.8%

 

Sales of Irish whiskey in global travel retail grew 12% in 2017 to reach 659,000 cases.

Lavelle stated: “Russia emerged as Irish whiskey’s fastest growing market in 2017, propelling it to be the third largest market for Irish whiskey globally; and the second largest market for exports.

“This means that our two largest export markets, the US and Russia, are both facing increasing threats of protectionism and possible tariff or trade restrictions.

“The Irish whiskey industry has been a major beneficiary of global free trade and EU-led free trade agreements. For example, the CETA trade deal with Canada is helping spur double digit export growth in that market. We continue to call on the EU Commission to seek to de-escalate tensions with the US and Russia to avoid us slipping into a devastating trade war.

“Growing global trade threats also present a challenge to our industry to pursue more growth in more markets. Like all sectors, we must diversify.”

Next week the IWA will host an industry seminar in this theme where IWSR will present a deep-dive analysis of global whiskey trends, with a particular focus on Asia and the Far East, which will be a key priority for the future growth of Irish whiskey.

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