Bushmills pinpointed in UK as ‘Whiskey to watch in 2024’

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OLD Bushmills has been named one of just three Irish whiskeys to watch in 2024 by an influential magazine for men in the US, the most important and fast growing market for the County Antrim company.

Bushmills was named alongside Waterford and Powerscourt by Men’s Journal on the basis of a stellar performance in 2023 with Alex Thomas, the talented master blender.

The magazine says Bushmills “made huge strides in 2023, selling more than one million cases for the first time, and opening the £37 million Causeway Distillery that increased production from five million litres of alcohol per annum to 11 million litres per annum. Bushmills has the history and inventory, and now the capacity to make an even bigger mark on Irish whiskey in the years to come”.

Irish whiskey, the magazine adds, continues “to experience steady growth globally, thanks to new international markets, a heightened focus on luxury, and the category’s ability to innovate”.

Alex Thomas, master blender at Old Bushmills, a whiskey to watch in US. (Pic: Bradley Quinn)Alex Thomas, master blender at Old Bushmills, a whiskey to watch in US. (Pic: Bradley Quinn)
Alex Thomas, master blender at Old Bushmills, a whiskey to watch in US. (Pic: Bradley Quinn)

In 2022, the value of Irish whiskey exports surpassed €1 billion for the first time, according to the Irish Whiskey Association, and forecasts suggest further acceleration. In 2023, 12.9 million nine-litre cases were sold, representing a 3.22 per cent increase from the previous year, data from Euromonitor International shows. A projection of 13.4 million cases for 2024 would mean an increase of 3.68 per cent in 2024.

Mark Reynier, chief executive and founder of Waterford Distillery, predicts “consumers will gravitate to brands that are transparent about their distilling practices, saying Irish whiskey can capitalise on demand for innovation and premiumisation”.

“In France, for example, we’ve found a receptive audience for those seeking high-provenance, global single malts, as opposed to more-of-the-same cask finishes from Scotland, and have seen growth despite the harder trading conditions,” he says. “Irish whiskey has the potential, as a category, to offer far more product diversity than Scotch whisky, and will continue to do so if it can break out from historical quality and ‘cheapness’ perceptions.”

Since 2003, high-end premium and super-premium Irish whiskey in the US grew by 1,053 per cent and 2,779 per cent respectively, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the US. While in the past, as an industry, Irish whiskey has underperformed at this level when compared with its Scotch competitors, in recent years things have moved on considerably, with the launch of new and very rare whiskeys like the 44 year single malt announced recently by Old Bushmills.

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