Regular readers of our blog or followers of our social channels will be aware of the great work we do with Bushmills Irish Whiskey and how proud we are to work with such an iconic local brand. With this in mind, Alex on our team thought she’d raise a glass to the drinks industry and have a look at the numbers behind the spirits.
According to The Wine and Spirit Trade Association, the drinks industry contributes £50bn in economic activity, employs 554,000 people across the supply chain and adds £17.7bn to the public purse through taxation. So when we describe it as big business, we aren’t joking.
Alcohol has always had a huge social and cultural impact throughout history and across the world.
In recent years, the industry, and in particular spirits, has seen a dramatic shift in consumers, marketing and how people enjoy them.
Drinks companies have turned to honing in on authentic and organic campaigns to promote their products. This is mirrored in the ingredients used and the importance brands place on sustainability.
In 2019, alcohol brands are much more focused on the experience of drinking than they were, say, 20 years ago. Consumers really do care about the ingredients, serve, mixers, glass, fruit and overall experience.
It’s fair to say few spirits have seen more of a shift in consumer behaviour than whiskey. Once consigned to country songs and Irish films, whiskey has come a long way to now become one of the most in-demand alcoholic drinks of the 21st century.
Its year-on-year growth hit a high note in 2018 when whiskey became a billion dollar industry in the US, and according to the latest figures from the UK’s department for trade, Northern Irish distillers helped grow exports of Irish whiskey to non-EU countries to more than £25.6 million last year.
So how has the liquid gold made this transformation?
Focusing on heritage and the story of the product, and the brand, is a great way to engage consumers.
With the launch of the #BlackBushStories campaign in 2018, Bushmills Irish Whiskey opened up a whole dialog of how the whiskey we all know and love came to be. During a series of trade and consumer events, Bushmills Brand Ambassadors discuss how Bushmills was granted the first licence to distill in 1608 and since then has gone on to expand and develop. Ambassadors talk about the origins of the casks that The Old Bushmills Distillery uses and the role of the Master Blender, whose job it is to ensure all Bushmills Irish Whiskey premium blends and aged single malts are crafted perfectly.
Passion is another driving force for brands like Bushmills Irish Whiskey. Having a rich history is great, but staying true to those original values is what ensures longevity.
Upholding traditions is what has maintained the standards of The Old Bushmills Distillery. For over 400 years, the Distillery has kept to the philosophy that hand crafting small batches is the way to produce beautifully smooth-tasting Irish whiskey. A sentiment that is held as dear now as it was in 1608.
Opening the doors
One way Irish whiskey has become more accessible is through opening the doors of its distilleries. Inviting consumers to see behind-the-scenes allows them to become acquainted with the product and showcases the intricacies of the distilling process. It gives customers an opportunity to connect with the story and appreciate the passion that goes into every drop.
Mixing your drinks
The rise in whiskey’s popularity could also be down to the ever-growing love of cocktails and mixology amongst younger audiences. Almost all bars have some form of cocktail offering on their menu, so demand is high. This is partly driven by younger revellers taking photos of beautiful concoctions and posting on social media.
Having said all that, when you’ve got a great product that tastes fantastic, you can’t go far wrong!