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Why is Irish whiskey so much more expensive in Ireland than overseas?

How to Drink Better: We have one of the highest rates of excise duty on alcohol in Europe

The first time I travelled to Germany, I brought a bottle of Jameson as a gift for my new boss. He was grateful but, like many Germans, amused by the gesture, as he could buy it considerably cheaper from his local off-licence. The situation hasn’t really changed since. How can a bottle of Irish whiskey be more expensive on its home turf than elsewhere?

Jameson is the best-selling Irish whiskey with sales of more than 30 million bottles annually. In Ireland it costs about €30 a bottle. In Germany it sells for €17, in France €23, and in Spain for as little as €15. Even in Dublin Airport Duty Free it sells for €27 per litre, or €18.90 a bottle.

The reason Irish whiskey is so much more expensive here is down to Government excise duty. As with most other alcoholic drinks, we have one of the highest rates of tax in Europe. Excise duty on a bottle of whiskey is €3.65 in Germany and €2.69 in Spain, compared with a huge €11.92 in Ireland. We are third-highest in the EU, after Sweden and Finland. We also pay 23 per cent VAT on the end price.

So, of that €30 for a bottle of whiskey, €17.50 goes straight to the exchequer.


Duty-free prices tend to be related to local prices, so you may find Irish whiskey is cheaper in a German off-licence than in Dublin duty free.

It is not just Irish whiskey that is so expensive here; the same duties apply to gin, vodka and other spirits too. So next time you buy a gift for someone abroad, check the prices first; you might be better with smoked salmon, or a limited release whiskey not available elsewhere.

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