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27 Apr, 2019 13:55

Insiders 'concerned' by impact of Conor McGregor's signature whiskey on US market

Insiders 'concerned' by impact of Conor McGregor's signature whiskey on US market

Sales of Conor McGregor's Proper No. Twelve have contributed to a boom in Irish whiskey sales in the United States, though some industry insiders are nervous the MMA star's controversial personality could damage the market.

McGregor's entrance into the whiskey business has been a successful one so far, with more than 200,000 nine-liter cases of Proper No. Twelve being shipped since its launch late last summer. It is currently available in Ireland, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. 

Sales of Irish whiskey combined to more than $1 billion in the United States last year, a surge of around 12 percent, with around 4.7 million case sold per the Distilled Spirits Council. 

Jameson, along with its distiller Pernod Ricard, remains the global leader in Irish whiskey and has experienced its own sales boom in keeping with the new figures, though insiders suggest that they have taken note of the potential impact that the popularity of Proper No. Twelve may have on their brand going forward.

"The informal ambition is for Pernod Ricard in the US to grow ahead of the market: if Jameson is disrupted by Proper No. Twelve, this makes this ambition harder to achieve in the near term," Edward Mundy, an analyst with beverage research company Jeffries said.

Proper No. Twelve has become popular with a younger age group of drinkers, many of whom would be fans of the sometimes brash former UFC world champion and on its launch McGregor issued battle cry to say that he is coming for his slice of the market.

"I respect other Irish whiskeys," McGregor said last year. "But I am coming in strong, with passion and with purpose."

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However, some inside the industry who have been critical of the taste of the newest player on the Irish whiskey scene suggest that its overall lack of quality could ultimately cause harm to the market.

"It is incredibly mild," the Irish Times described Proper No. Twelve at a taste test. "With a bitter caramel quality that I can only describe as unsweetened Werthers Original."

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