Irish Whiskey Roars Into St. Patrick's Day On a Strong Growth Run
March 9, 2023 –––––– David Fleming
St. Patrick’s Day comes with more to celebrate than usual this year, with news that Irish whiskey exports to the U.S. are flying once again after a brief slowdown during COVID-19. More than 72 million bottles of Irish whiskey were shipped to the U.S. last year, representing a 28% growth rate from 2021, according to research arm Impact Databank. Only tequila, whose sales have been on fire in recent years, is growing more rapidly among imported spirits.
Jameson continues to be the big seller of Irish whiskey, accounting for nearly 80% of all sales. But other Irish whiskey makers have been building their own momentum, led by Tullamore D.E.W., Bushmills, Redbreast, and Teeling, among others. And a host of other creative players like Waterford, Boann, Slane, and Clonakilty, to name only a few, are making the Irish whiskey shelf a fun place to shop. The number of whiskey distilleries in Ireland has exploded–from 4 only a decade ago to more than 40 today–led by small, artisanal players whose whiskeys are coming of age.
Single pot still is becoming an increasingly important part of Irish whiskey’s repertoire, after a long period in which this signature, traditional Irish style became nearly extinct. And there are new takes as well, with single pot still leader Redbreast offering its new American Oak series, its Kentucky Oak edition finishing at No. 2 on Whisky Advocate’s Top 20 Whiskies of 2022.
While scotch whisky still is ahead of Irish in terms of sales, Impact Databank projects that Irish whiskey sales are expected to top scotch well before the end of this decade.