GLOBAL: Irish whiskey aiming high as global firms invest

By | 11 September 2013

Irish Distillers is positive about the investment being made by its competitors in the category

Irish Distillers is positive about the investment being made by its competitors in the category

Irish whiskey can become 10% of global whisk(e)y category sales helped by drinks firms' renewed interest in the sub-sector, according to the head of Pernod Ricard's Irish Distillers unit.

In an exclusive interview with just-drinks this week, the division's CEO, Anna Malmhake, said the sub-category was currently so small that it would be “ridiculous” for rival firms to “start elbowing one another”. “If together we can make Irish whiskey over time 10% of the world's whisk(e)y market ... there’s plenty of room for all of us,” she said. 

Irish whiskey currently accounts for 4% of global sales in the whisk(e)y category. Pernod last week officially unveiled a EUR100m (US$132.6m) upgrade to it Midleton Distillery, while its competitors, including Beam, which acquired Cooley Distillery in 2011, and Diageo, owner of the Bushmills brand, are both investing in their brands. William Grant & Sons is also putting its weight behind Tullamore Dew

“The industry is alive, it's innovating and investing,” said Malmhake. 

Meanwhile, she defended Irish whiskey's performance in China, admitting that premium Scotch brands played more into the hands of the country's consumers wanting “bling” products.

But Malmhake added: “People (in China) are getting a bit tired with the most blingy things and are looking for more craft products. It (China) is a huge market... Irish whiskey can have a part of it.”

Expert analysis

Global Spirits Manufacturing

The IBISWorld Global Spirits Manufacturing industry report comprises enterprises that acquire a range of ingredients such as grains that are distilled into alcoholic spirit beverages and packaged (in purchased glass bottles) before being sold to liquor wholesalers, bars, casinos, restaurants, hotels and retail stores. This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in one or more of the following: (1) distilling potable liquors (except brandies); (2) distilling and blending liquors; and (3) blending and mixing liquors and other ingredients.

Sectors: Emerging markets – BRIC, Spirits

Companies: Diageo, Pernod Ricard, William Grant, Cooley Distillery

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