Why American whiskey is a real St. Patrick’s Day
good St. Patrick’s Day, it might seem fitting to knock over a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey. However, when it comes to Irish luck, American whiskey makers may have the upper hand.
American-made whiskey is one of the fastest growing spirits in the United States, with sales up almost 11% last year to $5.1 billion, according to a recent report from the Distilled Liquor Council of the United States (DISCUS). In particular, sales of premium whiskey from both small and large US distilleries are driving growth as consumers increasingly indulge in high-quality whiskey.
“Consumers of spirits appreciate the rich heritage, tradition and authenticity of American whiskey,” Lisa Hawkins, DISCUS senior vice president of communications, told CNN. She added that there is a “common passion” among whiskey drinkers because they want to know where it is made, what beans it is made from and how old it is.
One of the most recognizable brands is Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Brown Foreman
(BFA)its parent company, said last week in its earnings report that Jack “continues to be the biggest driver” of sales, which are up 12% year on year.
Brown-Forman has even expanded its Jack Daniel’s product line to include a more expensive whiskey called Jack Daniel’s Bonded, as well as the upcoming U.S. launch of its canned Jack and Coke.
Another factor in the growth of the American whiskey market are small distilleries, which themselves are becoming attractions where people can taste whiskey and see how it is made.
“This unique experience has helped introduce more consumers to American whiskey and generate interest in both old and new brands in the category,” Hawkins said.
Westland Distillery, near Seattle, is one of those experiencing an upsurge. Matt Hofmann, the distillery’s managing director and co-founder, told CNN its sales are “growing faster than ever” after the Covid-induced slowdown.
Westland’s focus is on producing single malts that “bridge the gap” between Irish whiskey, which Hofmann describes as “very elegant and affordable”, and American-made whiskey, which he says tastes “bolder”.
Hofmann also believes that the growth in international sales has contributed to the rise in popularity of American-made whiskey. Whiskey exports rose 30% to $1.28 billion last year, according to DISCUS, a welcome respite after retaliatory tariffs were removed. American whiskey is the most popular the best spirit for export, and the European Union is the largest market.
Of course, this does not mean that Irish whiskey is not popular. The company generated more than $1.4 billion in sales last year and played a “key role” in liquor revenue, surpassing beer sales in 2022, according to DISCUS.