Irish Whiskey – Resurgence of Irish Whiskey
Back in the early 1800s, did you know Ireland was the largest spirit maker in the United Kingdom? By 1823, Dublin boasted the five largest distilleries in the country. In fact, they were the five largest distilleries in the world, with a combined output of around 10 million gallons each year.
Two years prior in 1821, there were only 32 licensed distilleries throughout Ireland. In 1827, this number had risen to 82, and by 1835 reached a peak of 93; the highest number throughout the century.
Irish whiskey production output increased fourfold between 1823 to 1900, becoming the most popular spirit in the world. By 1900, over 12 million cases of Irish whiskey was exported to over 100 countries across the world.
So what happened to Irish whiskey?
In 1887, there were only 28 of the 93 distilleries left in existence in Ireland. By the 1930s however, Irish whiskey was to experience a complete reverse of fortune due to a number of factors: the War of Independence, the Great Depression, Prohibition in the US and the growth of the Economic War being some of the most significant reasons behind the demise of the Irish whiskey industry.
The market experienced a 95% crash when Irish whiskey exports fell from over 12,000,000 cases per year to an estimated 400,000 – 500,000 cases each year literally over a number of years.
Has the Irish whiskey market experienced any growth since?
As of the late 1980s, Irish whiskey began to see a slow and steady resurgence across the entire industry with new major distilleries being established or taken over by major multinational companies speculating on resurgent growth within the industry.
For the past 25 years, Irish whiskey has been the fastest growing spirit in the world, with annual growth of between 15-20% per annum.
As of 1954, the number of operating distilleries in Ireland was only four. Today, there around twenty-five fully operational distilleries. As of June 2019, the Irish Whiskey Association confirmed there are plans for a further twenty-four distilleries either planned or being developed across the entire region.
In 2018, sales of Irish whiskey stood at 10.7 million 9-litres cases, and are projected to exceed 12 million cases by 2020, eclipsing the current market record held for over a century since 1900.