The world will celebrate St Patrick’s Day on March 17, albeit in a more restrained fashion in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the restrictions, its a pretty fair bet that a fine Irish whiskey will be the toast of choice – it’s the world’s fastest-growing spirits category of the past decade, growing volumes by 140%.
Global sales of all Irish whiskey brands have soared by more than 300% over the last decade, with overall exports doubling to 12 million nine-litre cases, according to the Irish Whiskey Association.
There were just four distilleries operating on the island of Ireland in 2010, but 10 years later there are 38 distilleries working in towns and villages throughout the country.
According to the Irish Whiskey Association, the weekly sales rates for Irish whiskey brands like Jameson, Teeling, Dingle, Redbreast, Midleton and others in the U.S., is double the average for the two weeks leading up to March 17.
The association recently released a report that revealed the US is by far the largest market for Irish whiskey, accounting for 42% of all sales last year, up from 28% in 2010.
The report also noted the performance of Irish whiskey versus Scotch. In 2010, sales of Scotch were running 470% ahead of Irish whiskey, whereas in 2019 the gap was down to 76%. As such, the report predicts that sales of Irish whiskey in the US could overtake sales of Scotch over the next 10 years, the first time this has been the case since before prohibition in the 1920s.
The world’s best-selling Irish whiskey is Jameson, which is growing +27.5% in value, twice as fast as total whisky and sold eight million cases worldwide in 2019. The brand has also recently been recognised as the top trending and best-selling Irish whiskey by some of the world’s best bars. Jameson Black Barrel has also seen remarkable growth of +206.5% over the last 12 weeks alone.
Laura Stephen, Brand Director at Pernod Ricard UK, said: “The world celebrates Irishness each St. Patrick’s Day and this year, Jameson will embrace the community spirit of the occasion by inviting consumers to ‘join in’ wherever they are. Our new campaign will drive brand love by celebrating authentic connections, and we will inspire togetherness by delivering fun and engaging experiences that allow consumers to connect with friends virtually, helping to recruit a new generation of whiskey drinkers and drive preference among existing fans.”
However, the World Whiskies Awards 2020 gave the trophy for Best Irish Single Malt to the 21 Years & Over winner, Teeling Whiskey 30 Years Old Vintage Reserve. The whiskey was described as: “Good colour. Softy, sweet nose. Warm on the tongue and a drink of some merit. Rich, deep warming. Fresh fruit and floral notes. A whisky of some complexity. Beguiling and intriguing”.
Gold winners were: Dunville’s Irish Whiskey PX 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey; Fercullen Single Malt; and J.J. Corry Irish Whiskey The Vatting No.2.
Tourism Ireland’s special broadcast
Tourism Ireland will host a “St. Patrick’s Day at Home with Tourism Ireland” broadcast on March 17, featuring traditional and modern Irish music and dance from three pubs in Dublin, Belfast and Dingle.
The night’s festivities kick off at Johnnie Fox’s Pub in Dublin, with a performance from cutting-edge drumming ensemble, The Celtic Drummers. The Duke of York in Belfast’s historical Cathedral Quarter will feature the Shamrock Tenors; Dick Mack’s Pub in Kerry will also be involved in the program.
As another part of the program, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin will show a master brewer demonstrating how to pour a perfect pint of the famous Irish stout out of a can.