Irish whiskey sales in the U.S. have held strong despite a decline in alcohol consumption, new data reveals.
Preliminary figures from International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR), show that Irish whiskey sales rose 13.5 percent to 4.65 million cases last year.
Irish whiskey, which comprises six percent of the total US whiskey market, was the second fastest growing brown spirit after Japanese whiskey, which saw a 23.1 percent increase in 2018. Japanese whiskey represents 0.1 percent of the market.
Overall whiskey sales were up 4.1 percent but were outdone by other spirits such as tequila (up 8.5 percent) and mescal (up 32.4 percent).
Meanwhile, beer sales, which dominates the alcohol market in the US, declined 1.5 percent last year, while wine sales grew slightly at 0.4 percent.
Although Irish whiskey continues to record double-digit growth in the U.S., there is a concern that the rise in sales is slowing, The Irish Times reports. In 2015, growth in Irish whiskey sales hit 19 percent, when more than 3 million cases were sold.
For the third year in a row, alcohol consumption in the U.S. has continued to decline, with figures showing that total consumption dropped 0.8 percent to 3.345 billion cases.
The Irish Times has reported that rival whiskey producers have banded together to access EU funding in hopes of carving out opportunities in China and Japan so as to ease their dependence on the U.S., which has been their biggest market, for exports.
“Spirits and wine showed slight growth in 2018, but those category increases weren’t as high as previous years. It’s clear that Americans are drinking less overall, which is likely a result of the continued trend toward health and wellness,” said Brandy Rand, IWSR’s US president.