Stateways Jan-Feb 2014

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 20 of 43

IRISH SPRING THE ROSY BLOOM IS STILL ON THE FLOURISHING WHISKEY CATEGORY, AND OTHER IRISH SPIRITS, WITH MORE MARKETS TO CULTIVATE. BY THOMAS HENRY STRENK T hat Irish whiskey chalked up yet another record-breaking year is no longer breaking news, but rather, business as usual for the fastest-growing spirits category. Buoyed by the rising tide of consumer interest in brown spirits, especially whiskeys, Irish's double-digit growth continues unabated. Indeed, despite five years or more of phenomenal increases, major players agree that the market is still underpenetrated and there's plenty of opportunity for the category to develop in the U.S. market for years and even decades to come. A rash of new distilleries is aiming to meet that demand. Many Irish brands are sprucing up their packaging for the long haul. But the real scoop about this ripening category is renewed focus on the liquid in the bottle, with new expressions, new niches and new avenues for consumers to explore. The numbers show the segment chugging along at a very good clip. Indeed, Irish whiskey remains the fastestgrowing spirits category, according to the Beverage Information Group. Volume was up about 20% to 2.11 million 9-liter cases in 2012 nationwide (the last year for which statistics are available). In the control states, the gains were much more dramatic, with total Irish whiskey sales increasing 56.1% (measured with 12-month rolling data through September 2013). Indeed, revenue nationally was up 23.7% to $415 million, according to DISCUS (The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.). Even better, much of the category activity was at the top-shelf. Revenues were up a whopping 86.6% in the superpremium Irish segment in 2012. The mighty Jameson continues to dominate the Irish whiskey category, comprising about 80% (more than 1.6 million cases nationally) of the total Irish StateWays I I January/February 2014 whiskey depletions (just over 2 million cases) in the U.S. Indeed, the Pernod Ricard brand gained another 20.4% nationally in 2012 (58.1% in the control states), according to figures from Beverage Information Group. BROWN IS THE NEW GREEN A merican consumers' fascination with brown spirits, especially whiskey, translates well into Irish. Many observers think that approachable Irish is a gateway into whiskey, especially for less-experienced drinkers. "There is a whiskey renaissance happening. We are seeing that across all segments, and Irish whiskey is no different in that respect," exclaims Yvonne Briese, Marketing Director, Diageo North American Whisky and Irish. "What makes Irish unique in the whiskey category is its approachability." Diageo's Bushmills is the number-two brand in the U.S. market. "We are happy with our performance," says Briese. "Our base brand Bushmills Original is doing quite well, and from there people are able to explore our other, more sophisticated expressions such as Black Bush made with a higher percentage of malted barley," she contends. "And we have some really spectacular single malts—Bushmills 10-, 16and 21-year-old malts. Scotch has nothing on us." "Overall, we're still seeing a lot of interest in whiskey," echoes Ken Reilly, Category Marketing Director at William Grant who oversees the Tullamore Dew brand. "And Irish is a natural gateway into whiskey in general for first-time consumers, which is very heartening." Tullamore Dew is the number-three brand in terms of volume in the U.S. Currently, the Tullamore Dew brand is close to 800,000 cases worldwide, says Reilly. "The entire whiskey category has been growing exponentially for us," concurs retailer Louis Dachis, president of Merwin Liquors, with three locations in 21

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Stateways - Stateways Jan-Feb 2014