Irish whiskey's global market share is expected to double over the next five years, according to an ambitious strategy launch from the Irish Whiskey Association. 

Bernard Walsh, founder of Walsh Whiskey Distillery and chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association, said the Irish whiskey sector had come a long way in the last two decades.  "The last ten years in particular have been incredible with average growth of 9% per year. That puts us at a global market share of 4%, up from 1%," he stated. "We are the fastest growing whiskey in the world from almost a standstill 20 to 30 years ago," he added.

Mr Walsh described Scotland's experience with the Scotch brand as an inspiration for Ireland. "Scotland sell 90 million cases a year versus our 6.7 million cases. A quarter of all British food and drinks exports are accounted for by whiskey. It's second only to oil industry. One in five jobs in Scotland benefit from the industry," he explains.

Mr Walsh said the strategy sets out an ambitious plan to increase sales of whiskey to 12 million cases a year by 2020 and then to double that again in the decade following. "More distilleries are coming on stream. We had only three a few years ago and we now have eight in production. Four are under construction and on track to be completed this year. 20 more are in various stages of discussion," he added.

There are also plans to spread the growth to the regions and to the North of Ireland and Mr Walsh said the whiskey industry is one of the few all-island industries. Growth markets for Irish whiskey include Europe, Russia and North America. "We've had strong double digit growth for many years in the US. And Russia is now our fifth biggest market for Irish whiskey," Mr Walsh stated.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Drinks group C&C is proposing to pay a dividend of 11.5 cent per share - an increase of 15% on last year.
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