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Irish Whiskey Champions the Spirit of Recovery in 2021

Michael Jacob, Drinks Sector Manager

Irish Whiskey champions the spirit of recovery in 2021 Img.jpg

Image by: Ira Lee Nesbitt on Pixabay

The IWSR recently released their market analysis figures for 2021 and Irish whiskey continued its strong recovery following the difficulties of 2019 and 2020. Global retail sales of Irish whiskey increased by 23% with over 14 million 9-litre cases sold (IWSR 2021).

The USA again proved to be the strongest export market for Irish whiskey with the category experiencing a strong recovery following the temporary setbacks due to the pandemic. The continued rise of premiumisation in the market boosted this recovery with the IWSR also predicting that Irish brands releasing additional age statements will maintain consumer interest in the category (IWSR 2021). Elsewhere in North America, Irish whiskey posted the second-highest category growth in Canada, only second to Japanese Whiskey which was coming from a smaller base. Canada has a large number of people with Irish heritage, which has helped support this growth. Premiumisation trends and an eagerness to sample Ireland's newer distilleries have also benefitted Irish whiskey (IWSR 2021).

The growth of Irish whiskey was also evident in some key EU markets. In Germany, Irish whiskey experienced strong growth in 2021, led by two leading brands Jameson and Tullamore Dew. Irish whiskey growth in Germany is likely to continue, driven by its appeal to younger drinkers seeking a smoother, more mixable whisky (IWSR 2021). Poland is also experiencing a boom in Irish whiskey sales based on very strong market activations within the market. Irish brands are adapting their messaging for the market where Irish whiskey is perceived as fresh and fashionable, driven by its appeal to younger drinkers in the market (IWSR 2021). Irish whiskey exports to France grew by 12% but there is still room for further growth in 2022 (IWSR 2021).

Irish whiskey once again experienced strong growth in some key African markets. South Africa and Nigeria are the leading markets in the region for Irish whiskey. Irish whiskey has emerged as a serious competitor to Scotch in the Nigerian market in recent years with the category growing by 120% since 2016 (IWSR 2021). In South Africa, Irish whiskey was the only subcategory to fully regain (and exceed) pre-pandemic volumes in 2021. This was led again by strong market activations from leading brands and Irish whiskey being perceived as leading the premiumisation movement in the market (IWSR 2021).

India has emerged as the top Asian market for Irish whiskey. The Irish whiskey category more than doubled from 33k 9-litre cases in 2018 to just under 70k 9-litre cases, and then added other 100k 9-litre cases in 2021. Strong investment in the market and increased availability are key to sustaining this success (IWSR 2021).


Reference List:

IWSR Data Release 2021
IWSR (2021). Executive Summary Report 2022 United States
IWSR (2021). Executive Summary Report 2022 Canada
IWSR (2021). Executive Summary Report 2022 Germany
IWSR (2021). Executive Summary Report 2022 Poland
IWSR (2021). Executive Summary Report 2022 France
IWSR (2021). Executive Summary Report 2022 Nigeria
IWSR (2021). Executive Summary Report 2022 South Africa
IWSR (2021). Executive Summary Report 2022 India