The Whiskey Boom Keeps Booming

The Whiskey Boom Keeps Booming



It’s transformed from a cobwebby old man’s drink to a well-dressed semi-hipster choice overnight.

By Nicole Buckler

Humans are suddenly drinking whiskey like it’s going out of fashion. They can’t get enough of it. And Irish whiskey makers are loving this revival, because they now have the opportunity to flog their spirits to a hyper-interested and engaged market across the planet. Spirits are back, people.

Whiskey used to be the drink of that guy with the stuffed deer head on his wall and the leather-psychiatrist couch in his office with a maid called Tess or something. But now, it’s the drink of the moment in the middle classes.

Out are beers, wine and alcopops. Suddenly, spirits are outselling them all. But no other spirit is enjoying a stellar rise like whiskey is. In fact, whiskey is now being considered “recession-proof.” It is selling endlessly, even when the debt burden of the country is measured in so many numbers that we couldn’t write them all in a lifetime if we started now and lived for 120 more years.

This new trend for drinking whiskey can’t just be any old whiskey. It should be a premium/ fancy/ different/ interesting whiskey.

While the middle classes have discovered whiskey, the the global upper classes are currently searching the earth for rare and old whiskies. Such bottles are becoming investment treasures as they rise in price like never before. (If your granddad has a dusty bottle at the back of his drinks cabinet that looks suspiciously valuable, steal it when he has his nap, you won’t regret it.)

While all spirits are rising in popularity, whiskey’s upturn from something in the dusty drinks cabinet at Castle Leslie, to the drink of choice for the educated and interesting is an overnight sensation. So what is driving this interest in whiskey? Four words: the expanding middle class. Countries like India, China, Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam plus other emerging countries, are seeing their poor rising out of poverty and their middle class expanding. These newly-middle-income-earners want nice things, and one of those nice things is premium whiskeys. They are over the cheap beer. Goodbye Taiwan Bitter, we are done here.

But it is not only Asia that is discovering the tan-coloured drink. Americans are sucking up all whiskeys with appreciation and the market is so lucrative that whiskey makers can’t meet supply in some cases. Marketers always say that cocaine is the perfect product: you don’t have to advertise it and your customer will always find you, plus demand will always outstrip supply. Well we can now add premium whiskey to the perfect-product category.

So what is going on in the U.S.A? Premiumisation. What this means is that the drinking market in the USA is now a mature one, they are more sophisticated than a generation ago…and if they are choosing to alarm their livers, they want to do it in a classy way. They are not just going to “crack a tinny” like we all did in the 90s. Nope, these consumers want a nice comfy chair in an atmospheric home or restaurant and they want to share a bottle of Teeling Single Grain Whiskey with associates and friends. And they had better invite me so I can classily alarm my liver too.

In the U.S.A., the bestselling brands are Johnnie Walker and Jack Daniels. But this could change. Scottish and Irish whiskeys are currently serious contenders for the hearts, minds, and livers of the aspirational and probably well-dressed hipster American whiskey connoisseur.

So who’s in the game? Last year, Irish whiskey company Teeling launched their new Irish Single Grain Whiskey in New York. With the US market looking for new and interesting whiskeys, they hope this will fit the bill as brands jostle to grab the interest of new and existing whiskey drinkers. And this new Irish whiskey is interesting enough to catch on. Teeling Single Grain is one of only a handful of single grain bottlings in the world.

The Teeling family are not new to Irish Whiskey. They have being crafting “liquid Irish” since 1782 when Walter Teeling had a distillery on Marrowbone Lane in The Liberties of Dublin. At this time there were over 37 different distilleries in Dublin alone, centralised in the industrial engine room of the city: The Liberties; the Coombe, Newmarket and Smithfield.

During the 19th century Dublin whiskey became globally recognised as the premier whiskey in the world. Some of the largest distilleries of the time emerged from these smaller operations in Dublin’s Liberties. Since this hey-day however, many of these distilleries have shut down or relocated. But for Teelings, now is the time for a comeback.

The company have a new whiskey distillery in Dublin’s Newmarket Square in The Liberties, Dublin 8.  This is the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years. And the whole idea is that the Teelings brand will be brought back home to its ancestral roots.

You now want to scour the back of your grandad’s drinks cabinet, don’t you… get in there.


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