Jameson reaches ‘top table’ with 10 million case sale

Jameson whiskey sold more than 10 million cases in the 12 months to the end of March, a new record, with the managing director of brand owner Irish Distillers saying it had entered the ‘top tier’ global spirits.

Details of Jameson’s new sales record were revealed by Alexandre Ricard, CEO of Pernod Ricard, owner of Irish Distillers, on the alcohol giant’s recent financial markets day.

Talk with the Sunday IndependentConor McQuaid, the outgoing CEO of Irish Distillers, said sales of over 10 million cases was a “significant milestone”.

“The psychology of numbers is one thing, but if we go back in time to when Pernod Ricard bought Irish Distillers, the [Jameson] the brand sold around 466,000 cases in 1988,” he said.

“We had a milestone in 2020 to sell nine million cases by 2020, and we missed it by several months – all Covid-related. So to move very quickly and hit the 10 million case mark is a huge achievement.

“What rocks me when I say that number out loud is the fact that internationally there are only three other whiskeys bigger than us in the world, between Johnnie Walker, Jim Beam and Jack Daniels,” he added.

“It puts Jameson in that next level. It’s at the pinnacle of global spirits brands, and it’s a tremendous achievement for a brand that was small and has had a huge growth trajectory over 30 years.

McQuaid said Jameson now has a 2030 target to reach 15 million cases.

Pernod Ricard has decided to suspend sales in Russia – Jameson’s second largest market – following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

McQuaid said Irish Distillers’ sales performed well despite the pause in Russia, thanks to its strong performance in other markets.


Pictured at Midleton Distillery are Conor McQuaid, CEO of Irish Distillers (right), and Leo Clancy, CEO of Enterprise Ireland. Photo: Cathal Noonan

Pictured at Midleton Distillery are Conor McQuaid, CEO of Irish Distillers (right), and Leo Clancy, CEO of Enterprise Ireland. Photo: Cathal Noonan

Jameson has seen strong growth in markets across Africa, including Nigeria and South Africa. McQuaid hoped Jameson would top sales of one million cases in Africa this year.

“The dynamism elsewhere has more than compensated for the slowdown and pause in sales in the Russian context in recent months.

“It hasn’t necessarily had as negative an impact on the numbers as we’re seeing them at the moment.”

McQuaid said Irish Distillers are constantly reviewing decisions about future growth.

“One of the question marks in our minds, all that’s happened through Covid, all of these changes in consumer dynamics…has translated into very strong growth.

“How long will it last and where does it go next is an open question – the eternal question for every distiller when looking forward to stocking up today. We are constantly reviewing it.

Regarding the supply chain, McQuaid said there have been delays with longer shipments, particularly to the east and west coasts of the United States.

“We went from an average transit time of around six weeks from Dublin to where you needed to go, to something approaching three months.

“It was a pressure point,” he added. “It’s put a lot of extra pressure on the team here to bottle and bottle fast in increasingly long lead times.”

Last week Irish Distillers announced it would invest €50 million in its Midleton distillery in Co Cork over the next four years with the aim of delivering a carbon neutral operation by the end of 2026.

McQuaid said he was excited about Irish Distillers’ carbon neutral plans. The plan took about 10 years of work to get to the point of announcing it, he said.

“We wouldn’t have said it out loud and as publicly as we have if we didn’t believe we could do it. It’s a big undertaking, but it’s ambitious, challenging and exciting all at the same time.

McQuaid, who joined Irish Distillers in 1998, is to leave his current position to take up a post in Paris as Pernod Ricard’s new executive vice-president of corporate communications, sustainability and responsibility and public affairs. .

He is replaced by Nodjame Fouad, who currently holds the position of Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard Japan.

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