The Irish whiskey category is gaining momentum amid the fallout from tariffs and the global pandemic. We showcase the brands that will help take the mind to the next level in 2022.
The Irish whiskey category continued to be intense in 2021. However, the sector has not been without challenges.
The year started with Irish single malt whiskey stuck in a trade dispute between the US, EU and UK over the Boeing-Airbus feud. In 2019, the US government imposed tariffs on US $ 7.5 billion of EU goods, including a 25% tax on Irish single malt whiskey, due to continuing disagreement.
Relief came in June when the US and EU agreed to a five-year tariff suspension, a move hailed as a “positive development for Irish spirits” by the Drinks Ireland | Spirits trading organization due to the importance of the US market. It was a welcome move at a time when the category, like others, was recovering from the devastation of Covid-19 that struck the previous year. In September, the Drinks Ireland | Spirits annual market report showed that the Republic of Ireland’s spirits exports fell by 15.97% in 2020, from 1.18 billion euros in 2019 to 990 million euros. euros in 2020, in large part due to the collapse of global retailing. Before the pandemic, the global travel retail channel was the second largest market for Irish whiskey.
Bryan Fallon, Managing Director of Heaven Hill Ireland and President of Drinks Ireland | Spirits said: Increased focus on non-commerce and focus on e-commerce.
From new product launches to investments in distilleries, Spiros Malandrakis, head of research – alcoholic beverages at Euromonitor International, believes this will contribute to âthe potential for the category to continue to grow stronglyâ.
Irish Distillers, the Irish whiskey arm of the French beverage group Pernod Ricard, remains the leader in its category. The company’s Jameson Irish Whiskey is ahead of the crowd, and sold 7.7 million nine-liter cases in 2020, according to The 2021 brand champions report, but it was a 5% drop in volume for the brand.
However, Pernod Ricard announces a return to growth in its 2021 results – and Jameson’s sales jumped 15%. This return to growth will continue throughout the category, says Malandrakis. âPeople are going back to what they drank before the apocalypse,â he adds. “Irish whiskey, like all whiskeys, seems to immediately revert to previous stellar growth rates.”
And with newcomers giving the sector a further boost, such as Titanic Distillers, which in November obtained a building permit for build a distillery and a visitor center at the site where RMS Titanic was built – 2022 promises to be particularly bright for Irish whiskey.
Find below our selection of brands to watch in 2022.
Bushmills, the Irish whiskey brand owned by Becle, is a household name, but not a brand that likes to shout too loudly about its efforts. This past year, however, has seen a great amount of brand activity. Not only was there a new Pavement collection, launched with a campaign featuring George the Poet, but the brand appointed a new master mixer in November, Alex Thomas. We know by authority that 2022 will be the year Bushmills gets more of the spotlight – and we can’t wait to see what Thomas comes up with in his new role.
The producer of the Writers’ Tears and The Irishman whiskey brands has changed ownership. In November, Amber Beverage Group acquired Walsh Whiskey for an undisclosed sum. While all staff will remain in place, including Bernard Walsh at the helm as CEO, Amber Beverage Group seeks global domination, so there will definitely be some interesting activity coming from Walsh Whiskey in 2022.
JosÃ© Cuervo owner Becle seized the remaining stake in Conor McGregor’s Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey this year for US $ 600 million. Since its launch in 2018, Proper No. Twelve has shipped more than 500,000 nine-liter cases to eight international markets. Now, with all of Becle’s weight behind, there is an opportunity for the brand to be a serious global competitor in the Irish whiskey category.