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Toast of the town

Article appeared in issue 3, 2022

Irish whiskey sweeps the board at the World Whiskies Awards

Irish whiskey was the toast of the town at the World Whiskies Awards, held in in London on March 24 this year. The famous Irish tipple won an impressive eight awards at the prestigious annual global event, organised by Whisky Magazine. These included World’s Best Pot Still Whiskey, which was won by Teeling Wonder of Wood Single Pot Still, Teeling Distillery, Dublin; World’s Best Grain Whiskey, won by The Whistler Mosaic Marsala Cask, Boann Distillery, Co. Meath; and World’s Best Master Distiller, won by Kevin O’Gorman, Master Distiller, Midleton Distillery/Irish Distillers.

The prize for World’s Best Whiskey Visitor Attraction Manager was awarded to Ewan Paterson, Clonakilty Distillery, Co. Cork, and World’s Best Whiskey Bar Manager was Padraic Rafter from the Paris Texas Bar in Kilkenny City. Also awarded at the ceremony were the best Irish whiskies in a range of global taste categories. These included: Teeling Distillery; The Whistler/Boann Distillery; Clonakilty Distillery; Pearse Lyons Distillery; and Dunvilles/Echlinville Distillery.

William Lavelle, director of the Irish Whiskey Association, said: “The sweeping success of Irish whiskey distilleries, bars and retailers confirms Ireland’s re-emergence as one of the world’s leading whiskey-producing nations. I wish to congratulate all the winners who are proudly flying the flag for Irish whiskey.”

According to the Irish Whiskey Global Report 2021, published by the Irish Whiskey Association/Drinks Ireland, Irish whiskey was the fastest growing spirits category in the world over the past decade, with 140% growth in sales from 2010 to 2020. 

In February 2020, just before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 12-month rolling total for Irish whiskey global sales broke 12 million cases. In 2020, 11.4 million cases were sold. This represented a slight decrease on 2019, but still exceeded expectations for what was a challenging year. The decline in 2020 was primarily due to a collapse of Irish whiskey sales in global travel retail as a result of the pandemic.

While North America and Europe continues to account for approximately 84% of all Irish whiskey sales, 2020 saw a continued rise in sales in emerging markets, particularly in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. Nigeria proved to be the fastest-growing market for Irish whiskey in 2020, with sales more than doubling over the course of the year. Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand and Zambia all recorded strong growth.

Across all major markets, 2020 saw a continuation in the trend towards premium-and-above Irish whiskey, with strong growth at higher price points expected in the coming years.