Irish whiskey has become so popular, we might not be able to drink it in a few years. Such is the warning from whiskey magnate, John Teeling, who says a shortage of Irish whiskey may be on the horizon due to rising global demand.
Irish whiskey sales have been growing at a rate of more than 10 percent a year in more than 75 countries. Meanwhile, the Irish Times reports, the Irish Whiskey Association aims to double global sales of Irish whiskey from six million to 12 million cases by 2020, and then again to 24 million by 2030.
“We are the fastest-growing spirit category in the world and are ahead of our 2020 target,” an Irish Whiskey Association spokesman said. “We look forward to maintaining double-digit growth and to diversifying into new markets, something which is increasingly important given the introduction of trade barriers.”
Producers like Irish Distillers, makers of Jameson, the world’s best-selling whiskey, are trying to keep up by investing in increased production capacity. But something’s got to give.
Irish whiskey’s problem is akin to that of Japanese whisky, which is already experiencing a shortage due to surging demand for brands like Hibiki and Yamazaki. Teeling told the Irish Times that Japanese alcohol giant, Suntory has started withdrawing sales of its Hakushu 12-year and Hibiki 17-year single-malt whiskies this month “because they have no whiskey left.”
It’s a confounding problem. Shall we drink less whiskey from Ireland and Japan so we have more in the future? Or do traditional distillers need to adapt to increasing demand with higher prices, quicker methods or “younger” brands?