Irish whiskey is well on its way to making a big come back after years in the shadows of its Scottish counterpart.
An ever increasing number of young people are taking to the drink, prompting businesses to open new distilleries across the country.
The whiskey industry has grown substantially over the past decade. Irish whiskey is now the fastest growing spirit in the world and exports are worth around €350m. Exports have grown by 220% since 2003.
There are currently eight distilleries in Ireland compared with just two in the 1970s. The industry is likely to invest €1bn over the next decade, with plans to build up to 20 more distilleries to keep up with demand.
Tullamore Dew is one of the world’s leading Irish whiskey manufactures. They have opened a new €35m distillery in Tullamore, Co Offaly.
In 2014, John Quinn, global ambassador of Tullamore Dew, said: “Irish whiskey has come into the unusual category in recent years. It’s not American and predictable. People like the fact they are not drinking what everyone else is drinking.”
Another major player in the resurgence is The Teeling Whiskey Company, who are constructing Dublin’s first distillery for 125 years.
Global music stars such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna are fans of the famous Jameson’s whiskey. The drink has been name-checked in Rihanna’s songs, while Lady Gaga has been known to drink straight from the bottle while on stage.
Drinks analyst Trevor Stirling said the Irish whiskey brands “have been in the right place at the right time. They have this great metro image of being slightly edgy but not too edgy… there is clearly more to it than a vodka or a rum, but it’s not quite as challenging and smokey as a Scotch. It is positioned in exactly the right place.”
The Irish whiskey industry still has a long way to go before it can become a serious threat to the Scots. Scotch Whisky dominates the international market and Scottish distilleries export 20 times as much whisky as their Irish counterparts.
Irish whiskey was once one of the most popular drinks in the world. However, it was badly hit by American prohibition as well as the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. Irish exports were cut off to the Commonwealth, giving the Scots the chance to dominate the market.
It will take the industry a long time to reach that lofty perch again but it is great to see the green shoots of recovery have arrived.
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