Pernot Ricard, the maker of Jameson whiskey, has unveiled global profits of €615m for the six months to the end of December.
Customers bought 2.73 million cases of the drink during all of 2008. In this country sales were down for the full year by about 5%, but in other markets up by 14% overall.
Sales rose by 21% in the US, its biggest market.
In Russia sales went up by 41%; by 23% in Eastern Europe and 9% in South Africa.
The drink became a top 40 spirits brand for the first time.
Kieran Tobin, communications director for Irish Distillers, said they didn’t envisage any growth in this country in 2009 and urged the Government not to increase the burden on the industry.
Shares in the company, whose portfolio also includes Jacob’s Creek wine and Absolut vodka, rose by up to 9% on some markets when the results were announced.
“Although visibility is limited for the second half of the year, we anticipate the wine and spirits sector will on the whole continue to show excellent resilience,” said a Pernod spokesperson.
The company spokesperson also said they expected to continue to gain market share “in many countries” in the second half.
It had forecast an 8% growth in operating profit for the full year, but has now said it will be between 5% and 8%.
The group employs a workforce of 17,500 in 80 subsidiaries and has annual sales in excess of €6bn. Since its creation in 1975 it has developed continuously through both organic growth and successful acquisition.
Irish Distillers employs more than 500 four locations in Ireland.
The group distills and distributes internationally a range of famous Irish whiskey, gin and vodka brands.
Its brands include Jameson, Powers and Paddy as well as a range of deluxe whiskeys including Midleton Very Rare and Redbreast.
It also has Cork Dry Gin, Cork Crimson Gin Vodka and Huzzar.
Irish Distillers also distributes a range of international brands such as Havana Club, Malibu, Kalha, Stolichnaya vodka and many more.
Irish Distillers strengthened its international position by the acquisition of Allied Domecq in 2005.