Did you know that Irish whiskey is booming right now?
Most Irish whiskey that is exported to America is Jameson’s Irish whiskey. About 60-70% of the Irish whiskey sales in the United States is Jameson’s followed very distantly by Bushmills. It is important to note that America is largely responsible for this renaissance in Irish whiskey production. Our market has always been closely tied to Irish whiskey’s successes and failures.
Prohibition in the U.S. in the early 20th century hit Irish whiskey hard. In a country of roughly 3 million people, there were about 160 distilleries in Ireland producing about 400 brands of whiskey at the time. That’s about one distillery for every 19,000 people, which is not nearly enough people to sustain that much production. America shutting its doors to Irish whiskey was a staggering blow and production collapsed. (Other factors were involved such as grain shortages and Ireland’s own temperance movement, but U.S. Prohibition was huge) At the end of Prohibition, Irish whiskey did not recover and those 400 brands became basically 3: John Jameson and Son, John Power and Son and Cork Distillers. Around 1966, they merged to form Irish Distillers Group. That group is now owned by Pernod Ricard.
Pernod Ricard controls the lion’s share of the Irish whiskey on the market- most notably, Jameson’s. Their marketing campaigns to sell Jameson’s to the American public worked incredibly well. You can’t think of St.Patrick’s Day anymore without picturing Guiness and Jameson’s. Jameson’s is distilled at the Midleton Distillery in County Cork, Ireland. Other large distilleries are Cooley Distillery on the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth, Ireland (Beam Suntory), Kilbeggan Distillery in Co. Westmeath, Ireland (Beam Suntory), and Bushmills distillery in County Antrim (Diageo). The number of distilleries is growing every year. Production is estimated to double by 2020.