Vodka is Ireland’s favourite spirits drink, but ‘ready to drink’ products performed strongly in 2020 according to new report

A new report from Drinks Ireland|Spirits released today has shown that vodka remains Ireland’s most popular spirits drink. While sales declined by 10.2% last year, it enjoyed a 31.6% market share in the spirits category. 
This was followed by Irish whiskey (26.3% market share), gin/Irish gin (14.04%), and rum (7.4%).
Gin/Irish gin has become increasingly popular in Ireland in recent years, and this trend doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.  While sales in Ireland fell by 6.6% between 2019 and 2020, sales grew by 184% between 2014 and 2019, prior to Covid-19. Forecasts for the next five-year period suggest that the growth in gin and Irish gin has not ended and that the decline in 2020 will be seen as a Covid-19 related blip.    
Many of us will have seen the multitude of new ‘ready to drink’ (RTD) products hit the shelves over the course of 2020. These include spirits based RTDs and hard seltzers.  As a category hard seltzer did not exist in Ireland in 2019, but in 2020 nearly 90 thousand cases of various brands were sold.
Domestically, the report shows the closure of hospitality venues had a marked, negative impact on the sector. Overall, sales of spirits fell by 4.8%, from 2.42 million 9 litre cases in 2019 to 2.3 million cases in 2020. 
Some spirits categories benefited from the consumer shift to the off-trade, according to the report, with domestic Irish cream liqueur sales growing by 26.5%.
The latest report shows that Irish consumers face the third highest level of excise tax on spirits in the EU, and Drinks Ireland|Spirits is calling on Government to reduce this in next month’s Budget. 
Spirits exports from the Republic of Ireland also declined by 15.97% last year.
Bryan Fallon, Managing Director of Heaven Hill Ireland, brand owner of Carolan’s Irish Cream Liqueur and Irish Mist Honey Liqueur, and Chair of Drinks Ireland|Spirits said: 
“The report shows that the spirits sector did not escape unscathed from the Covid-19 pandemic. Irish hospitality venues are a vital component to the continued growth and prosperity of Ireland’s spirits and craft spirits sector, allowing companies to engage with consumers, so their closure was very much felt. 
“Despite this, the resilience shown by the spirits sector last year in the face of the loss of one of the main consumer channels was remarkable, with producers responding with an increased emphasis on the off-trade and a focus on ecommerce.  
“Outside of Covid-19, a number of other challenges remain such as Ireland’s high level of tax on alcohol, which is unsustainable and uncompetitive, and a burden to consumers. We are calling on the government to reduce excise tax by 7.5% in Budget 2022.  An excise reduction would boost post-Covid tourism and secure sustainable, long-term growth for Ireland's drinks and hospitality businesses in 2022 and beyond.
“While 2020 has shown that our sector is resilient and adaptable, this resilience and adaptability will be tested in the post-Covid world, and Government must support in our sectors recovery through an excise cut.”