Many American adults will be raising a dram of super premium Irish Whiskey this St. Patrick’s Day with interest in the Emerald Isle whiskey at an all-time high, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and Drinks Ireland | Irish Whiskey Association (IWA).
DISCUS reports that U.S. consumer interest in the Irish Whiskey category is surging. Since 2002, high-end premium and super premium Irish Whiskey grew at a staggering 1,007 percent and 8,728 percent, respectively. In 2020, more than 5.0 million 9-liter cases of Irish Whiskey were sold in the United States, generating $1.1 billion in revenues for distillers.
Particularly in the last decade, the Irish whiskey category has developed a broad appeal with increased use in cocktails and increased sales of more premium-and-above Irish whiskey expressions.
“The United States remains the largest and most-valuable market for Irish whiskey,” said William Lavelle, head of IWA. “Over a century on from the start of prohibition, it is worth remembering that Ireland was once the largest supplier of whiskey the US; and now, once again, American consumers are flocking to discover the depth and diversity of Irish whiskey.”
Lavelle noted that the Irish Whiskey industry makes substantial contributions to the U.S. economy. For example, he cited that 270,000 used whiskey barrels from Kentucky and Tennessee were purchased and re-used in Ireland in 2020.
“It’s an exciting time for whiskey hailing from the Emerald Isle. The growth of Irish whiskey sales in the United States over the past decade has been phenomenal,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of DISCUS. “Consumers enjoy Irish Whiskey’s lighter, sweeter flavor profile and are captivated by its rich heritage as one of the world’s first whiskeys.”
Swonger added that St. Patrick’s festivities will look different this year with ongoing pandemic restrictions, but noted there are ways to still ways to celebrate and support local bars and restaurants safely, including purchase of cocktails to-go to enjoy responsibly at home.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is the national trade association representing leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits sold in the United States.
Drinks Ireland | Irish Whiskey Association is the trade association of the Irish whiskey industry, representing producers of Irish whiskey from across the island of Ireland.