The world’s largest spirits marketsBy Amy Hopkins
Whether whisky or Tequila, Cognac or gin, every spirit category has a particular market which demonstrates stand-out promise and enthusiasm – with volumes to boot.
Over the past few weeks, we have been counting down the world’s largest markets for each of the main spirit categories – whisky, vodka, brandy, rum, gin, Tequila and mezcal, and Cognac.
Each category has its own particular set of historical, cultural, and political circumstances which determine its largest markets.
While Cognac battles an on-going campaign of austerity in the East and brandy strives to shrug off its dusty after-dinner image, Tequila and rum move upmarket and whisky of all kinds surges in international popularity.
This is the final roundup of the world’s largest spirit markets, listed by category and based on Euromonitor data from 2012.
While spirits volumes may have now shifted in these markets due to economic turbulence, crackdowns and evolving trends, for now, these are the world’s largest spirit markets.
Currently, there are two markets which dominate volumes in numerous markets.
Click through the following pages to see which ones these, and the others, are.
Whisky – India
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.
Vodka – Russia
By far the world’s largest market for vodka, consuming 1.37 billion litres in 2012, Russia stays true to its staple spirit.
However, as predicted by many, president Putin’s steep rises in minimum pricing and tax hikes have reinvigorated the black market – which is said to account for 35-50% of total sales.
Despite this, Russia was found to have consumed 1.7 billion litres of spirits in 2012, yet a decline of 13% has been forecast between 2012 and 2017.
Brandy – India
According to Euromonitor figures, India is the world’s largest market for brandy, purchasing 416.6 million litres in 2012. The brandy and Cognac sector is also set to set to overtake rum to become the second largest by volume in 2013.
Brandy brands owned by Indian companies are some of the largest in the world and continue to appeal to their home market.
According to our Brand Champions 2013, United Spirits-owned McDowell’s and Honey Bee, as well as Radico Khaitan-owned Old Admiral are among some of the biggest brandy labels in the world.
Rum – India
According to Euromonitor, India was the world’s largest market for rum in 2012, buying 404.2 million litres of the spirit.
Boosted by an availability of affordable local brands and and growing demand for premium international spirits, both ends of rum’s spectrum recorded impressive results in India.
Furthermore, figures released by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India in 2012 revealed that the sale of imported spirits in India was expected to grow 25% a year until 2015, reaching 55 million litres. Rum could therefore experience further growth in India over the next two years.
Gin – Philippines
This number one spot may come as somewhat of a surprise to many, but the Philippines is by-far the world’s largest gin market, purchasing 265 million litres of the spirit in 2012 – more than all of the other countries on this list combined.
Local brand Ginebra San Miguel makes up a large part of these sales, which are boosted by the relative affordability of the spirit.
However, the continued growth of premium international spirits in Asia also means that many affluent Philippine consumers are “trading up”.
Tequila and mezcal – US
By far the largest market for Tequila and mezcal, the US has seen imports grow every year for a decade – and there’s no sign of a hangover yet.
With sales of 113.7 million litres, the US imported significantly higher volumes of Tequila and mezcal than all of the other regions featured on this list put together.
According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (DISCUS), the equivalent of 12 million cases of Tequila flooded in from Mexico – an increase of 72% on 2002, thanks to the growth of high-end and super premium brands.
Cognac – US
Importing 33.9 million litres of the spirit in 2012, Euromonitor figures show that the US is the world’s largest Cognac market.
Producers have been increasingly turning to the US and its booming luxury spirits market to offset the slowdown in China.
As the world’s biggest spirits market, which represents some 40% of international spirits profits, the US has been eyed by drinks companies, including Pernod Ricard, as a key destination to expand their presence.