Close Menu
Top 10

World’s largest whisky markets

From established single malt Scotch to craft Bourbon and emerging Irish brands, the entire whisky category continues generate surging global interest.

According to the Distilled Spirits Council’s (Discus) 10th annual market report, whisky sold in the US grew 6.2% to 52.7 million cases.
We countdown the world’s largest whisky markets, based on Euromonitor data from 2102

The category is stronger than ever, with a host of new distilleries popping up to cut themselves a slice of the profit pie, while at the same time fuelling innovation.

Yet demand has been so strong in recent years, that numerous producers have admitted a shortage of stocks. While Bourbon distilleries have turned to a number of tactics to stretch supply, Scotch and Irish brands have utilised a number of innovative marketing techniques to turn attention away from age statement.

Despite this, traditional heartlands and mega-brands in Scotland, Ireland, Kentucky and Tennessee continue to reap rewards, while Canadian, Japanese and Australian brands are hot on their heels.

Based on Euromonitor’s findings of how many litres of whisky were purchased across the globe in 2012, we count down five of the world’s largest whisky markets.

The figures account for volume sales of single malt Scotch, blended Scotch, Bourbon and other US whiskey, Canadian whisky, Irish whiskey, Japanese whisky and “other” whisky (such as Indian or Australian)

The Spirits Business also recently compiled lists of the world’s largest markets for brandyrumTequila and mezcalvodka and gin.

5. UK

UK80 million litres

With Scotland in its midst, a boom in Bourbon resulting from a pervasive prohibition cocktail culture, and a growing interest in world whiskies, it’s no wonder that despite its tiny size, the UK is one of the biggest markets for whisky.

Consuming 80 million litres of whisky in 2012, the UK sits fifth on our list of the world’s largest whisky markets.

While the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) recently reported that between 2012 and 2013, the Scotch market had declined 3%, the industry is hopeful of a return to growth after the automatic tax escalator was scrapped during the 2014 Budget Statement.

4. Japan

Japan98.7 million litres

With its own category of whisky and a fascination premium Scotch brands, Japan boasts an enthusiastic market for whisky, consuming 98.7 million litres in 2012.

A highball drinking phenomenon continues to grip bars and homes in the country and has been single-handedly credited with reversing the domestic decline in the consumption of Japanese whisky.

The country’s consumption levels are also affected by the wider Asia Pacific region’s standing as the largest spirits market in the world, accounting for over half of all spirits consumed.

3. France

France141 million litres

Similar to England, an emerging cocktail culture in France might have something to do with the country’s position as the third largest market for whisky.

Furthermore, despite a backdrop of economic sluggishness, French consumers’ penchant for high end premium Scotch drives the value end of the market, as well as the volume.

With sales of 141 million litres, whisky vastly outperformed France’s staple spirit Cognac in 2012, which sold 2.7 million litres in 2012.

2. US

US433 million litres

As the country which buys the most spirits in the world, the US has yet to lose its love of whisky.

Purchasing 433 million litres of whisky in 2012, the country is widely coveted by whisky producers of all varieties across the world.

The whisky boom in the US saw no signs of slowing down in 2013, when according to DISCUS, sales grew 6.2% to 52.7 million cases, led by a boom in Irish whiskey.

1. India

India gin1.4 billion litres

With an expanding middle class, no shortage of locally-produced, affordable brands, and a proven love of all things whisky, India is bar a clear mile the world’s largest market for whisky.

Sales reached 1.4 billion litres in 2012, meaning the country purchased more whisky than the combined total of the four other markets on this list.

An eye-watering 150% tax scheme on imported products means Scotch, Irish and American whisky has not yet reached its full potential. But experts have predicted that the fastest spirits category in the next few years will be white spirits, as it continues to grow in favour among young Indian urbanites.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No