What to look out for this St Patrick’s Day

March 14, 2024
By Cody Profaca

With almost one in 10 Australians identifying as having Irish ancestry, St Patrick’s Day celebrations have long been ingrained into Australian culture and tradition. More than just serving as a holiday for those with Irish heritage, it now exists as an opportunity for Irish and Irish-Australians to share their culture, history and energy with the rest of Australia’s ethnic mixing pot, inviting all to share in the many festivities it entails. 

It also presents an invaluable opportunity for venues and brands to demonstrate their support for, and to capitalise on, a market in which Irish brands sell extremely well. The latest available data, published on Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs Australia website, shows that Australia’s affinity for Irish products has grown significantly over recent years, with 2022 imports totalling €1.56 billion (approximately AUD $2.58 billion), up €856 million (about AUD $1.17 billion) on 2021. 

The same patterns emerge when focusing on the liquor sector. The Irish Spirits Market Report 2022 shows that imports of Irish Protected Spirits into Australia increased in value by 17.3% on the year before. The data also revealed that Australia imported a volume of 615,700 nine-litre cases in 2022. This equates to about 74% of the 832,500 total cases consumed within Ireland itself. 

The recent increase in popularity of Irish whiskey has contributed largely to this growth. Irish whiskey, whilst already popular, has been increasing its reputation over recent years for its simultaneous approachability and complexity as result of its smooth unpeated profile and many layers of flavour. The consolidation of Irish liquor on the Australian market has also been firmly underpinned by beer. 

Two brands perhaps more quintessentially Irish than all others are Guinness and Bushmills. Much more than just a flag-bearer for Ireland’s drinks industry, Guinness’ Irish Dry Stout has become the benchmark for all stouts the world over. 

Similarly, Bushmills doesn’t just lay claim to being the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in Ireland but in the world as a whole. Since it was founded in 1608, Bushmills’ Irish Single Malt has managed to maintain its position at the top of Irish whiskey by holding true to its values. 

This dedication to its craft is evident right throughout its history, including its resistance to economic pressures caused by the malted barley tax at the turn of the 19th century. While the tax led to a widespread adoption of inferior unmalted barley and corn in mashbills, Bushmills remained true to its principles and never once wavered from using 100% malted barley for all its single malts. 

The 10 Year Single Malt Whisky remains the backbone of the Proximo-owned Bushmills brand due to its unparalleled versatility and accessibility. Both the 10 Year and the rest of the Bushmills core aged range collection has been reporting strong growth over recent years.

Guinness is another brand now synonymous with St Patrick’s Day. While its Irish Dry Stout needs little introduction, Lion has recently announced a new addition to Guinness’ Australian portfolio in the form of the non-alcoholic Guinness 0.0.

“The launch of Guinness 0.0 is catering to consumer needs, without compromising on the signature Guinness flavour profile that its drinkers know and love,” said Albertus Lombard, Lion Brand Director of premium beer.

The release of non-alcoholic beer to the Australian market follows an announcement made in July last year that Guinness Ireland would triple production of Guinness 0.0 to meet a surge in domestic and global demand for non-alcoholic stouts. 

With estimates predicting that an equivalent of 2.4 million pints will be drunk during St Patrick’s Day related festivities, Guinness 0.0 will undoubtedly be a category leader for those looking to moderate or remain sober. It also presents appeal to the health conscious consumer, with just 16 calories per 100ml.

“As one of the world’s oldest and most loved drinks, Guinness continues to remain at the forefront of innovation,” said Lombard. 

St Patrick’s Day events will be taking place nationwide this Sunday March 17. More information about scheduled events can be found here.

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