Consumers have a growing taste for spirits, according to a new report published by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) today. 

The report reveals that spirits made up a 20.5% share of the alcohol product market in 2018, a 5.6% increase on to the previous year. 

It also shows that wine was the only category to decrease last year, falling by 2%to an overall share of 26.7%. However the wine share of the drinks market has almost doubled since 2001.

DIGI said that beer remains the nation's most popular drink, making up a 45.2% share of the alcohol product market last year, an increase of 2.7% in the volume of beer consumed in 2018. 

And the market share of cider increased slightly by 0.4% to 7.5% of all consumption.

DIFI said the Irish drinks market is highly competitive and constantly evolving in line with consumer preferences and tastes.

Consumption remained at a stable level since last year, with a competitive domestic market between all alcohol categories, it added.

Average adult alcohol consumption in 2018 was just over 11 lpa (litres of pure alcohol), down marginally on consumption levels in 2017.

The 2018 figure compares to over 14.44 lpa at the market's peak in 2001 – 23.2% lower.

Rosemary Garth, Chair of DIGI and Communications and Corporate Affairs Director at Irish Distillers, said the report demonstrates that Irish consumers are increasingly choosing quality over quantity.

"What we are seeing in an industry that directly and indirectly employs 90,000 people is businesses and entrepreneurs constantly proving their competitiveness and eagerness to grow, adapt and shift their own business models to develop new, innovative products and services," Ms Garth said. 

She noted that there were four active distilleries in Ireland in 2013, now there are 24 in operation, with a further 24 in development. 

"An increase of 5.6% in the market share of spirits is no surprise and proves the determination of Irish distilleries," she added.

The DIGI chair also said that as the Government sets its agenda for a post-Brexit future, creating a business environment that is conducive to continued innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly within Ireland's drinks and hospitality industry, must be a key priority.

The "Drinks Market Performance 2018" report was authored by Dublin City University economist Anthony Foley and commissioned by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI).