The Top-Selling Irish Whiskey Brands

Plus, which brands sell best at on-premise venues on St. Patrick’s Day, according to OnPrem Insights data

Smooth, approachable, and cocktail-friendly, Irish Whiskey has prospered at U.S. bars and restaurants for the last decade as a go-to spirit to enjoy with friends at the bar.

The subcategory currently makes up about one-quarter of all Whiskey sales at Union’s high-volume venues, and even more on St. Patrick’s Day, with Jameson dominating sales. Irish Whiskey is still a distant second to Bourbon and other American Whiskey when it comes to subcategory share. While Bourbon has shown recent growth on-premise, Irish Whiskey’s share of all Whiskey sales was down by 2 percent in 2023, indicating that after years of stellar growth, Irish Whiskey is slowing down at U.S. bars and restaurants.   

With St. Patrick’s Day in sight for brands and bartenders — the biggest sales day of the year for Irish Whiskey at on-premise venues — we took a look at this important subcategory to better understand how the landscape is beginning to shift for Irish Whiskey.

Irish Whiskey’s Top Sellers On-Premise

“Jameson’s U.S. category share is nothing short of remarkable,” says Gary Ross, Union’s chief growth officer. The global brand firmly takes the the No. 1 spot atop all other Irish Whiskey brands, accounting for nearly 90 percent share of all Irish Whiskey sold at Union’s network of more than 1,000 high-volume bars and restaurants around the U.S. 

Tullamore Dew is building a loyal following on-premise, coming in as the No. 2 best-selling Irish Whiskey. It grew an astounding 12 percent in 2023, gaining more share than any other Irish Whiskey brand, though of course its share trails behind Jameson with just 6.5 percent share of Irish Whiskey sales overall.

Redbreast (1.3 percent share) and Lost Irish (1.1 percent share) are the only other two brands to capture over one percent share of the subcategory. The Top 10 Irish Whiskey brands also include Bushmills, Powers, Green Spot, Paddy’s, 2 Gingers, and Proper No. Twelve, together accounting for almost 99 percent of on-premise sales of Irish Whiskey. Bushmills, a household name and one of the oldest distilleries in the world, experienced some of the biggest declines in Irish Whiskey in 2023 at Union venues.

Top 10 Irish Whiskey Brands

  1. Jameson
  2. Tullamore Dew
  3. Redbreast
  4. Lost Irish
  5. Bushmills
  6. Powers
  7. Green Spot
  8. Paddy’s
  9. 2 Gingers
  10. Proper No. Twelve

Source: OnPrem Insights by Union, 12-month period ending December 31, 2023. Ranked by dollar sales share.

Union data shows a shift is taking place in guest purchasing behavior, explains Ross. Tequila sales, newer craft Irish Whiskey brands, and premiumization trends are chipping away at Irish Whiskey’s share of spirits. “But the Irish Whiskey category remains a key player on-premise despite signs of stagnation,” he says, “especially at high-volume venues.”

On-Premise, Jameson Orange Takes Off

Jameson is the undisputed leader in Irish Whiskey. In fact, five of the Top 10 Irish Whiskey items sold at Union in 2023 all hail from the Jameson brand. 

However, the flagship Jameson label took a small hit in 2023 on-premise, with about 1.4 percent share decline.  It remained No. 1 by a wide margin, but lost more share in 2023 than any other Irish Whiskey label. Union’s guest ordering data shows that last year’s Jameson drinkers are now ordering more Mainstream Beer, like Miller Lite and Coors Light, as well as premium Tequila like Espolon Blanco. When ordering other Whiskeys, they tend to now order more Bourbon and American Whiskeys.  

The Jameson brand might be facing stiffer competition than it has in recent memory, but Ross says the brand is largely still winning on-premise, with innovation initiatives that seem to be paying off. Jameson Orange, a citrus flavored Whiskey, nearly doubled its sales last year following its initial launch in 2022. And Union guest ordering data shows that these sales are not taking share from Jameson’s namesake Whiskey SKU, but instead from Whiskeys with similar flavor profiles, such as Crown Royal Peach and as other flavored spirits like Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka.  

In fact, new products like Jameson Orange are not cannibalizing regular Jameson sales at all, data shows. If anything, they are helping to build up the brand, explains Ross. 

Top 25 Irish Whiskey Items

  1. Jameson Irish Whiskey
  2. Tullamore Dew
  3. Jameson Orange
  4. Redbreast 12 Year Irish Whiskey
  5. Lost Irish Whiskey
  6. Jameson 12 Year Old Special Reserve
  7. Jameson Black Barrel
  8. Jameson 18 Year
  9. Bushmills
  10. Powers John’s Lane Irish Whiskey
  11. Green Spot Irish Whiskey
  12. Paddy’s Irish Whiskey
  13. 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey
  14. Slane Irish Whiskey
  15. Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey
  16. Powers Gold Label
  17. Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey
  18. Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition
  19. Midleton Very Rare Vintage Release
  20. Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition
  21. Bushmills Black Bush
  22. Tyrconnell Irish Whiskey
  23. Writers Tears Cask Strength Irish Whiskey
  24. Redbreast 15 Year
  25. Proper No. Twelve Irish Apple Whiskey

Source: OnPrem Insights by Union, 12-month period ending December 31, 2023. Ranked by dollar sales share.

Jameson’s Black Barrel and Caskmates IPA Edition saw gains last year, though other innovations such as Jameson Cold Brew and the Caskmates Stout Edition did not fare as well. 

He says: “Jameson is a dominant player, but it’s also proving to be a resilient global brand. Pernod Ricard, the parent brand, is showing they can proactively adapt to a changing on-premise environment.”

The Top Irish Whiskeys on Saint Patrick’s Day

To no surprise, orders for Irish Whiskey spike on-premise in March. At Union bars and restaurants, Irish Whiskey sales represent nearly 30 percent of all March Whiskey sales, which is about 5 percent higher than the rest of the year.  

Do the same Irish Whiskey brands sell on St. Patrick’s Day as those that sell year-round? They do, but notably, Jameson isn’t quite as popular on this day as it is year-round. 

In 2023, Jameson still ranked No. 1 by a wide margin, and Tullamore ranked No. 2 — both in line with typical year-round sales. However, in 2022 and 2023, both brands lost some St. Patrick’s Day share to other top brands. Year-round Jameson drinkers spread their wings on St. Patrick’s Day, ordering more Guinness, Irish Car Bombs (aka Dublin Drops), and Green Tea shots that day than on other days of the year.  

Throughout the year, Lost Irish (No. 4) competes for Redbreast’s third place ranking, outselling Redbreast at times, and with boosted sales in March. Launched in 2021 in the U.S., the modern-style Irish Whiskey is an untraditional, craft-style counterpart to traditional brands such as Redbreast.  

Ross notes that, as a newer entrant to the category, the Lost Irish brand has been steadily gaining attention from on-premise guests. “It’s a high-quality brand, and there’s growing consumer interest in international Whiskey, so it really stands out from the pack,“ he says.  

“Certainly a great naming strategy is at play here, as well. Who wouldn’t want to order a brand with the word ‘Irish’ in it on St. Patrick’s Day? It signals to guests that they’re celebrating the holiday with an authentically Irish brand.”

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