What’s next for Irish whiskey in Germany and Poland?

March 14, 2022

Between late 2021 and early 2022, the Irish Whiskey Association’s 2021 Market Insights series will be focusing on Germany and Poland.

Why are we talking about Germany and Poland – and why together? They are of course different markets with different languages, currencies, regulatory systems, and very different market structures.

But these two markets – while being contiguous - also stand out as a pair in many other ways when it comes to talking about Irish whiskey.

Germany & Poland are now the two largest EU export markets for Irish whiskey – both now recording more sales than France – which was once Irish whiskey’s largest global market.

The graph shows the strong, steady sales growth achieved over recent years, including most notably continued growth last year, 2020.

Despite Covid-19, sales of Irish whiskey in Germany & Poland grew by 140,000 cases in 2020 – while, because of Covid-19, sales across the rest of the EU dropped by twice that volume

Provisional data suggest Germany and Poland have continued to deliver strong export growth in 2021

However, sales of premium-and-above Irish whiskeys have been running at less than one-sixth of sales of each of premium-and-above Scotch and US whiskeys. This is something we hope will begin to change over coming years.

In addition to their standout growth patterns, Germany and Poland, as a pair, also share another unique attribute – they are the two most competitive markets for Irish whiskey:

  • There is no single runaway leader, like in many other markets
  • Three brands in Poland each record over 100,000 case sales
  • Six brands in Germany each record over 22,000 case sales


The combination of strong overall growth and competition between multiple brands lends itself to there being a strong category recognition for Irish whiskey in Germany & Poland.

So, against this generally positive backdrop, where are the next opportunities for the Irish whiskey category in these markets, particularly at premium-and-above price segments where – as I’ve pointed - we’ve been lagging?

But we need to also beware of challenges:

  • Germany and Poland have, over recent decades, been major markets for US whiskeys. But for the past three and a half year, US whiskeys on sale in both markets have been subject to a 25% EU tariff which has impacted sales. Those tariffs end on December 1 2021. This will likely lead to increased competition.
  • The IWA is also aware of reports from members of apathy (even cynicism) regarding Irish whiskey among buyers and media in both markets.


Webinar No. 1 – Market Structure

The first webinar took place on 26 November 2021 and featured presentations on markets structures:

  • Germany - James Kiernan and Paul Stark of Grace O’Malley Spirits
  • Poland - Adam Mikolajczyk, Regional Director for Eastern Europe with William Grant & Sons.

The webinar can be viewed here.

The slide decks are available below.


Webinar No. 2 – Opportunities in Germany

The Second webinar took place on 9 February 2022 and featured:

  • Ghazaleh Karakolev, Senior Brand Manager (Irish) with Beam Suntory, Germany - St. Patrick’s Day as an additional seasonal opportunity for Irish Whiskey in Germany
  • Nadine Lehmann, Market Manager for Germany with Tourism Ireland - Opportunities for Irish whiskey tourism in Germany

The slide decks are available below.



Webinar No 1 Market structure in Germany pdf | 1746.1 kb Webinar No 1 Market structure in Poland pdf | 2198.9 kb Webinar No 2 Tourism Ireland pdf | 4106.2 kb