Norwalk, Conn., (June 13, 2017) – The distilled spirits industry continued its impressive 19 straight years of growth, rising 2.7% in 2016 to 221.0 million 9-liter cases. Continued employment gains and wage increases have led to increased consumption of premium, quality products at home and on-premise. According to the Beverage Information Group’s Liquor Handbook 2017, consumers are spending more and drinking more – 5.8 million cases more than in 2016, to be exact.
The American straight whiskey category shows no signs of slowing down after a 6.2% increase in 2016. Premium brands continue to grow most rapidly as consumers show a willingness to trade up. As millennial consumers experiment within non-Bourbon segments of the whiskey category, imports are up as well. Canadian Whisky and Scotch rose 2.2% and 4.6%, respectively, in 2016, while Irish Whiskey saw its thirteenth straight year of double-digit growth, rising 15.0% to 3.6 million cases. After demonstrating strong growth last year and after years of negligible growth, the blended whiskey category fell flat again growing just 0.5% or 5.2 million cases.
Other distilled spirits categories saw mixed results in 2016. Tequila and brandy/cognac showed strong gains of 6.9% and 7.8% respectively. Vodka, whose growth rate has been slowing in recent years grew 2.1% to 74.3 million cases. But gin, rum and cordials/liqueurs showed little or negative growth. Rum consumption remains the second-largest spirit category, but decreasing volumes suggest consumers’ willingness to explore other categories.
In 2017, we expect consumers to continue that experimentation, especially as improving economic conditions raise disposable income. Millennials will continue to be the major force behind the growth of distilled spirits with their focus on quality products, perceived heritage and authenticity of legacy brands. Female and Hispanic consumers will represent growth opportunities for the industry now and into the future.
About the 2017 Liquor Handbook
The Beverage Information Group’s Liquor Handbook 2017 is the most comprehensive source of information on U.S. spirits and sales trends. It includes consumption and projection information by category and by market, tracks leading brands and reports historical data. The publications can be purchased at www.bevinfostore.com or by calling Marybeth Came.