Irish Whiskey Volumes Surge Nearly 9% in the US

The category's popularity extends beyond St. Patrick’s Day as new brands continue to come to market


As Americans soon prepare to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, no doubt Irish whiskey will be top of mind. According to preliminary data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, the leading authority on the global beverage alcohol market, the Irish whiskey category posted an 8.6% volume increase in the US in 2019 versus the year prior.

Though Irish represents only 2% of the total spirits volume in the US (and 7% market share among whiskies), it’s one of the fastest-growing spirits categories in the US. Over the past five years, Irish whiskey volume has increased 13.4% compound annual growth rate, and IWSR forecasts the category to continue to grow.

Premiumisation is a key driver for the category’s sustained interest and innovation. In 2019 alone, IWSR has tracked almost 30 new Irish whiskey brand lines that have entered the US market at a premium or above price band. As part of the trend towards premium offerings, Irish whiskey producers have been releasing products with age statements similar to those of Scotch, reaching up to 21 years in the barrel.

“We continue to track high growth numbers for brands like Jameson, Tullamore Dew, Redbreast, Teeling, Proper No. Twelve, and Slane whiskey in the US, says Adam Rogers, North American Research Director at IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. “Interest in Irish whiskey has been led primarily by Jameson for decades, but now the establishment of more distilleries in Ireland has contributed to an increase in not only Irish whiskies, but other categories like Irish gin as well.”

In 2010, there were only four distilleries in Ireland producing and selling Irish whiskey. Today there are more than 30. But this influx of new Irish distilleries and brand choices isn’t the only factor fuelling the category’s strong performance in the US. Consumer excitement and appreciation for all whiskies remains strong. Led by the recent boom in US whiskey, this is a trend that is also a significant contributor to the growth of Irish whiskey.

According to newly-released preliminary figures in the IWSR US Beverage Alcohol Review (US BAR) database, available to IWSR’s global customers, Irish whiskey’s 8.6% volume growth in 2019 outpaces that of US whiskey, Canadian whisky, and Scotch in the US. Consumption volumes of Japanese whisky increased last year, though from a smaller volume base. Total whiskey volume in the US increased by 4.3% in 2019.


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