The Irish know a thing or two about whiskey, and the rest of the world is starting to catch on to that. Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirit in the world, and it’s expected to continue its rapid international expansion for the next couple years.
In 2017, nearly 10 million cases (120 million bottles) of Irish whiskey were sold—20 percent more than in 2016, according to The Spirits Business. The Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) set a goal of doubling sales from six million to 12 million cases between 2014 and 2020. William Lavelle, the head of the IWA, said at a recent barley seminar that the goal is “on target to being met and exceeded.”
“In 2014 there were just four whiskey distilleries in the country,” Lavelle said, according to The Spirits Business. “Today there are 18 and we expect that number to surpass 30 by 2020 to meet growing international demand.”
A big reason for that growth is America’s love of the Irish. A report by the Special Ingredients Division of Associated British Foods found that, in 2016, Irish whiskey grew 11.2 percent globally and 17.6 percent in the U.S. That growth is on top of the fact that the U.S. is already far and away the biggest market for the spirit. The U.S. purchased 43.92 million bottles of Irish whiskey in 2016, a lot even compared to Ireland, the second largest consumer, which bought 6.25 million bottles.
This means it’s time to experience more brands of Irish whiskey than the tried-and-true Jameson if you haven’t already. Some of the best Irish whiskeys to try if you’re wondering what the fuss is about include Knappogue, Tullamore D.E.W., Teeling, Powers and Redbreast. With 16 more distilleries in the planning or construction stage, this trend doesn’t look like it’ll slow down any time soon.