Raising a glass to champions of Irish whiskey


As a regular traveller through Dublin Airport Terminal 2, I pay a visit to the Irish Whiskey Collection nearly every trip and it’s not hard to see why it works. The whiskey guides know the category inside out, and the promoters bring a great sense of fun to the environment. There’s plenty of newness (though in a category of relatively few players, still not enough) and the range is probably the widest for Irish whiskies anywhere, perhaps with the exception of the Celtic Whiskey Shop in downtown Dublin.

This week’s launch of The Gathering single malt Irish whiskey coincides with the start of a new phase for the Irish Whiskey Collection, a key element in The Loop retail offer at Dublin and Cork airports. Launched in late 2010 when T2 opened in Dublin, the concept – created to champion Irish whiskies – has tapped into the surging interest in the category, and brought both established and independent brand names to a new audience.

In that time the Irish Whiskey Collection has helped demystify the Irish whiskies sector – just as concepts such as World of Whiskies have done with Scotch – and most importantly from a DAA viewpoint, it has consistently delivered double-digit growth in the category. Now, Irish whiskies represent 60% of all spirits sold at Dublin Airport.

Just as crucially, it has provided the retailer with a different audience. Across DAA’s business, 70% of purchases are made by women, but at the Irish Whiskey Collection roughly half are men. Not only that, but Irish passengers don’t dominate spends in the shop-in-shop in the same way they do elsewhere at Dublin Airport: here international customers play a far greater role – and that’s a key factor in the relatively high average transaction values at the Collection.


The DAA and Teeling Whiskey Company teams salute the launch of The Gathering single malt at Dublin T2 on Thursday

Now for the next phase: having established itself as a champion of the great Irish whiskey names over the past three years, DAA is intent on developing a range of bespoke products that it can call its own. In partnership with the Teeling Whiskey Company (founded by Jack Teeling, whose father created Cooley), the airport company and retailer has created The Gathering to mark this year’s event of the same name, which celebrates Irish heritage and genealogy.

The line comprises just 1,000 bottles, and is the first in a series of planned collaborations that will mark Irish historical milestones over the coming years. These projects tick many of the right boxes for the travel retailer: differentiation, exclusivity to the travel channel, Sense of Place and premium products, packaging and prices.

DAA also plans to extend the Irish Whiskey Collection, currently seen in Dublin T2, Cork and Shannon airports. It will feature in the soon-to-be-rebuilt T1 at Dublin, where it is likely to be accompanied by a strong showcase for other international whiskies.

Maybe in time, as Irish whiskey continues its upward trajectory, it could even feature in ARI’s stores overseas. As the major global travel retailers battle to differentiate themselves, The Irish Whiskey Collection could be an element that is identifiably ARI’s, generating loyalty from interested consumers across its locations.

As we have noted many times before, not enough airports and retailers commit themselves to showcasing the indigenous products of the countries where they’re from or where they operate. That’s why we’ll raise a glass to DAA’s commitment to Irish whiskey, and its role as an ambassador for one of Ireland’s great indigenous products.

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