Consumption of Distilled Spirits Consumption by Category

According to the Beverage Information Group’s recently released Liquor Handbook 2015, distilled spirits achieved its 18th consecutive year of volume growth, up 1.5% and reaching 211.8 million 9-liter cases in 2014. Both on- and off-premise sales rose in 2014 compared to 2013, reflecting a rise in disposable income and increased consumer confidence.

Consumption of Distilled Spirits by Category

The whiskey renaissance shows no signs of slowing down

American whiskeys are trendy and sales continue to rise, as Millennial consumers demand authentic products with heritage and history. Straight whiskey increased by 6.4% to 18.8 million 9-liter cases. Blended whiskey, which has been trending flat over the years, also increased slightly. Irish whiskey, the smallest of all the distilled spirits categories, is also the fastest-growing. It followed up 11 years of double-digit growth with a healthy 7.8% increase last year.

Leading Brands Share of Straight Whiskey


Share of Straight Whiskey by Top Suppliers

Whiskeys weren’t the only categories to grow in 2014. Vodka increased by 1.0% to 72.0 million 9-liter cases in 2014, marking the category’s 19th consecutive year of gains. Tequila continued its five-year rise of over 5%, while Brandy and Cognac climbed 3.5% to 11.1 million 9-liter cases. Cordials and Liqueurs were basically flat, but import Fireball continued its streak of triple-digit growth and finished 2014 at 3.9 million 9-liter cases.

Canadian whiskey, Scotch whiskey, Gin, Rum and Prepared Cocktails saw overall declines.

Boutique Spirits

In addition to whiskey, handmade boutique spirits such as 100% agave tequilas, pot-distilled vodkas, fresh pressed rums and small batch gins have also contributed to the industries growth. These high-end products often source locally cultivated grains, potatoes, sugar cane and botanicals which fit in with the “buy local” trend. Another growth factor in the distilled spirits industry is the rediscovered “call shot.” What began with Jagermeister years ago with its unique flavor profile has evolved into concoctions of whiskey and cinnamon. Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey has taken consumers by storm. Fireball’s success has led to other similar style offerings from major suppliers.

New Media Influencing Buying Trends

Today’s technology savvy consumers are “always on.” They have media at their fingertips almost 24×7 with constant access to a PC, Tablet or Smartphone. They can access the internet, email, apps and social media round the clock. Data published by ZenithOptmedia states that in 2014 people spent an average of 110 minutes online a day, up from 60 minutes just four years earlier. Traditional media like print and television declined from 402 minutes to 376 minutes a day. As this illustrates, the beverage alcohol industry is changing on a daily basis and suppliers and retailers are tasked with targeting consumers in this new media age.

The 2015 Liquor Handbook is comprehensive source of information on U.S. spirits industry sales trends. The report is available from The Beverage Information & Insights Group. To learn more about the handbook you can visit their website here.

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