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How are We Really Drinking Irish Whiskey and Gin?

There is no question about the rapidly growing popularity of Irish whiskey and gin. As sales go up and new distilleries open, it almost feels like a never-ending parade of product launches, festivals and tours to help spirit enthusiasts appreciate the bonanza.

And while having a look at what’s being offered in prestigious bars is a great way to spot patterns and find out what’s trending in the Irish cocktail scene, we wanted to hear it from consumers of these products. That’s why we conducted a survey last June 2017 and we asked 1,000 readers of TheTaste about the way they enjoy Irish whiskey and gin and about what matters to them when buying these spirits.

We have compiled the findings in an infographic and while some of the answers came as no surprise (yes, most gin is mixed with tonic), other results were more eye-opening.

When it comes to Irish whiskey, two thirds of respondents said Jameson was the brand they drank more often. From the remaining third, Teeling was the tipple of choice for 25% of people (8% of drinkers, in the overall total), followed by Bushmills and Powers. While these are not all the brands available in the market, they were chosen for the survey due to a combination of popularity and prestige and an effort was made to feature names large and small, new and well established.

How are We Really Drinking Irish Whiskey and Gin featured image

In the case of gin, we focused only on small-batch Irish brands. It made sense for the smallest and newest operations to be the less frequently drunk. One of the reasons for the popularity of the top two brands in the survey could be their presence in supermarket shelves: Dingle Gin and Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin are both available in Dunnes and SuperValu (the last one is also available at Tesco) and they’re served as signature gins in several Irish bars and pubs (Dingle Gin and Vodka are featured spirits at The Porterhouse Bars, which gives the spirits plenty of exposure).

Many of the smaller brands have a considerably more limited distribution and are only available at specialist off-licences and a more reduced number of bars with comprehensive gin menus.

How are We Really Drinking Irish Whiskey and Gin?

Neat Sippers Vs. Mix Drinkers

Regarding the preferred way to enjoy the spirits, the Gin & Tonic has little competition when it comes to gin, being the go-to serve for 72% of respondents (19% enjoy it in “other cocktails”). A mere 1% sips their gin “neat” and only 2% have it “on the rocks.” Producers who over-emphasise their spirits as “sipping gins” might be aiming for a very small target as G&T is still the undisputed ruler of the botanic kingdom.

Whiskey-wise, the favourite is more… er… diluted: there is a tie for the first place with “on the rocks” and “with ginger ale” each achieving 22% of votes, followed by 20% who drink their whiskey in “other cocktails” (surely many of them Old Fashioneds). Neat sippers? A not-too-shabby 15%. The pie is completed by 10% of respondents adding water or soda to their uisce beatha and 11% who mix it with cola.

How are We Really Drinking Irish Whiskey and Gin?

The Importance of the “Made in Ireland”

While in both cases the majority of people indicated that they consider it important that the spirit is made in Ireland, this mattered the most for whiskey, with half of the respondents considering it “Very Important” and 37% thinking it’s “Somewhat Important”. Just a 9% remained “Neutral” and a mere 5% indicated that for them, the Irish origin of a whiskey is “Not Important.”

In gin, 19% didn’t care about their spirit Irishness and 21% felt “Neutral about it, while 27% deemed it “Very Important” and 33% think it’s “Somewhat Important.” With the popularity and positioning on international brands in the market, it made sense for consumers to be slightly less concerned with a gin’s origin.

The Taste Matters the Most

While Irish provenance is praised and often sought for, when asked what matters to you the most when it comes to brand loyalty in spirits? an absolute majority of 73% of respondents said the product’s taste was it. Far from this, but in second place was the bottle’s price, with 10% of votes. And when it comes to spirits, it seems like what matters the most is what’s inside as branding and packaging came last, with just 4% of people saying it is the most important factor for them to remain loyal to a brand.

How are We Really Drinking Irish Whiskey and Gin drinks

However, consumers tend not to be overly attached to spirits as only 15% of them agreed with the statement they’ve one favourite brand they’re very loyal too. Variety is preferred and even though 41% of people agreed to the statement they’ve a few brands they like and usually stick to them, the majority, 45% of voters, opted to affirm they are always looking to try something new.

Check out the full infographic below…

How are We Really Drinking Irish Whiskey and Gin featured image


Gaby ProfileGabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.

Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.

Gabriela Guédez Gabriela Guédez


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