Irish Whiskeys Stable, Bucked Premiumization Trend

Irish whiskeys hold a No. 3 position in the market with a 8.4% share, but they are well behind the whiskey category leader Bourbon (39%) and Scotch whiskey at No.2 position at 23%.  

Still, the same five Irish whiskey brands have held the top slots in the subcategory since 2020, Drizly said.  “In 2022, the top day for Irish whiskey was on St. Patrick’s Day, followed by the day before and the day after,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. “The weekend prior to the holiday also saw strong sales with Friday, March 11th being the fourth top sales date; Saturday the 12th was the fifth.”

Unlike wines like Champagne and spirits like tequila, Irish whiskey has largely bucked the trend of premiumization that many segments of the alcohol industry have seen over the past couple of years. The average unit price of Irish whiskey on Drizly in 2022 was $37.67, up from $35.78 in 2021. Though prices were on the rise in the past year, it fell slightly below the average unit price of whiskey overall ($39.24), suggesting Irish whiskey remains one of the more affordable whiskey categories.

Northern New Jersey, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, Baltimore, and Phoenix all over-index on Irish whiskey sales on Drizly, with men making up 59 percent of share in 2022—in line with overall whiskey sales, though higher than the 52 percent of overall orders on Drizly.

The five best-selling Irish whiskey brands on Drizly were consistent from 2021 to 2022, with a few key leaders in the subcategory that stand out: Jameson, Redbreast, Tullamore D.E.W., Proper Twelve, and Bushmills. This is only a slightly different order of the same brands that made up the top sellers in 2020 (Jameson, Tullamore D.E.W., Redbreast, Bushmills, Proper Twelve), which shows a consistency year-over-year and is a sign that these are the brands for retailers to pay attention to as key sales dates approach, Drizly said.