A new report has found that the value of Irish spirits exports grew by 17% to a record level of €1.45 billion last year, with the US remaining by far the top destination.
The report by Ibec trade association Drinks Ireland|Spirits shows that spirits sales in the domestic market were up by 6% last year and by 10% compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, driven by the consumer trend of premiumisation.
Overall, global sales of Ireland’s three protected Geographic Indication (GI) spirits (Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Poitín) grew in volume terms by 6% in 2022.
Vodka Is Top
The report indicates that gin’s growth in the last ten years slowed in 2022, but that slowdown is driven by standard gin brand sales, with premium brands increasing by 15% in 2022.
Drinks Ireland said while less gin was sold, consumers are focused on quality and new tastes.
In addition to their successes in export markets, Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream saw continued strong growth in Ireland too, with sales up by almost 11% and over 8% respectively.
Drinks Ireland noted that an emerging category in recent years has been Ready to Drink spirit drinks. With the on-trade recovering last year, sales of these products in Ireland slowed, down by 0.3%, but this is after a growth of 14% in 2021 and 26% in 2020.
“The export performance of Irish spirits has been exceptional, with export value reaching almost €1.5 billion last year," said Cormac Healy, director of Drinks Ireland.
"New markets are emerging and its wonderful to see a growing awareness and appreciation of the unmatched quality of Irish spirits throughout the world.”
However, Bryan Fallon chair of Drinks Ireland|Spirits, and managing director of Heaven Hill Ireland, brand owners of Carolan’s Irish Cream liqueur and Irish Mist Honey liqueur, warned that the industry should be protected and fostered, something that’s not always reflected in policy.
"There were a number of key challenges in 2022, most notably the impact of inflation on raw materials, which put huge pressure on the industry and continues to do so," said Fallon.
"The sector also continues to be burdened with the second highest overall excise tax on drinks products in the EU, with spirits having the third highest rates behind Finland and Sweden.”