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Irish whiskey growth boosts Northern Ireland distilleries

Soaring sales of Irish whiskey, especially in the US, will offer greater business opportunities to Northern Ireland’s developing network of distilleries.

Three distilleries are now producing Irish whiskey in Northern Ireland with a third to come on line during 2018.

Exports of Irish whiskey increased by 20 percent to more than £500 million in 2017 and are on track to double by 2020.

Old Bushmills in county Antrim, the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery, remains the leader in Northern Ireland. In 2017, the historic distillery launched Red Bush, a new premium whiskey aimed in particular at the US market, now the biggest global market for the brown spirit.

 
Old Bushmills remains firmly in position as Northern Ireland’s biggest whiskey business and most popular attraction for visitors.

In addition, whiskey is being distilled by Echlinville in Kircubbin, county Down, home to Dunville single malt and blended whiskies and Ireland’s only single estate producer using barley grown close to the distillery, and Rademon Craft Distillery in Crossgar, also in county Down, home to the successful Shortcross Gin, which is maturing whiskey in bourbon casks.

A fourth whiskey distillery, The Quiet Man, will begin operations at a purpose–built distillery in Derry. The Quiet Man has been achieving international success and acclaim with malt and blended whiskey products. The Quiet Man Irish Whiskey is already on sale in 30 world markets.

The latest statistics reinforce the standing of Irish whiskey as the world’s fastest growing brown spirit. Growth is being experienced in the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Spain.

The US, however, remains the most dynamic market for Irish whiskey. Exports from the Republic of Ireland grew by 16 percent last year to over £200 million while exports to the EU rose by 11 percent to over £100 million last year.

Demand for Irish whiskey is set to continue, with production forecast to double between 2015 and 2020, and double again in the following decade.

Patricia Callan, director of Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, said: “Ireland’s drinks industry is continuing to increase its exports as a result of innovation, more choice, high quality and a focus on building strong brands that resonate with consumers in export markets.”

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