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Ireland is at peak Irish whiskey!Getty

The Irish whiskey industry at a 120-year high

Last year was a banner year for Irish whiskey


The number of Irish whiskey distillers functioning in Ireland hit a 120-year high in 2019, with 31 up and running, that's a leap from just four at the start of the decade.

The Irish Whiskey Association reports that 2019 was a banner year for Irish whiskey and the number of Irish whiskey distilleries is now at the highest it has been since 1900. The association told the Irish Independent this was the most substantial increase since the 1820s - a jump that was due to the 1823 Excise Act reforming the licensing system. 

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New arrivals

December 2019 saw the openings of Boann Distillery in Drogheda, County Louth; Glendalough Distillery in Newtownmountkennedy, County Wicklow; and Lough Gill Distillery in County Sligo. Meanwhile, 2020 is starting off with some newness too as Powers Irish Whiskey has revealed a dramatic new look. The bottle shape was inspired by the silhouette of the pot still from the brand’s historic home at John’s Lane Distillery in Dublin, while the label which is styled on the iconic Powers ‘diamond P'. Powers Gold Label arrives March 2020, while the new design will be rolled out on Powers Three Swallow and Powers John’s Lane during the year.

Powers Three Swallow
Powers Three Swallow

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Whiskey galore

The Association reports that more than 135 million bottles of Irish whiskey are expected to have been sold around the world in 2019. That sum is worth nearly €750m in export value to the all-island economy of Ireland.

William Lavelle, Head of Drinks Ireland and the Irish Whiskey Association, told the Sunday Independent, Irish whiskey had a "momentous decade".

Lavelle said "We are seeing new distilleries open right across the island of Ireland, bringing the tradition and craft of distilling back to cities, towns, and villages which once were proud centres of distilling and are set to be again."

At the end of 2019 industry observers also reported Irish people are more and more choosing more premium spirits. While gin sales rose 31.8% in Ireland between 2017 and 2018, Irish whiskey was also holding 25.1% of the market with an increase of 5.4% in sales between 2017 and 2018. 

This article first appeared on Irish Central.

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