Irish whiskey distilleries around the island of Ireland attracted 677,000 visitors in 2022 – an increase of 425%, compared to 2021.
However, this figure was down on pre-Covid levels – which peaked at 1.02 million – by a third.
The Irish Whiskey Association announced the new figures as part of the publication of the findings of its annual survey of Irish whiskey distilleries for 2022.
Commenting on the distillery visitor numbers for 2022, James Doherty, chairperson, Irish Whiskey Association, said, “2022 represented a year of recovery following two years of closures and restrictions, due to Covid-19. While 2021 saw encouraging support from domestic visitors, 2022 saw a strong rebound in the number of visitors from international markets, particularly North America, Germany and Great Britain.
“While overall numbers are still down on the pre-Covid peak, we are targeting full recovery in 2023. Irish whiskey tourism makes a substantial economic contribution to local communities around Ireland, particularly in rural areas.
“Based on previous assessments conducted in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, we assess that tourists spent over €40 million in local communities linked to visits to distilleries.”
According to Doherty, it is expected that at least 26 Irish whiskey distilleries will be open to visitors in 2023, directly employing over 400 people.
A further finding of the survey indicated that more than 200,000 bottles of Irish whiskey were purchased from distillery gift shops in 2022, which the Irish Whiskey Association regards as ‘highlighting the importance of this channel for the sale for premium Irish whiskey to visitors and tourists’.