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Whisky to flourish in US bars in 2022

The whisky market is worth more than US$10 billion in the US on-trade and is expected to thrive this year, according to CGA data.

US on-trade whiskey
American whiskey dominates the whisky market in US bars

CGA’s Whiskey in the US report noted that whisky has been one of the star performers of the spirits sector in recent months, and is expected to grow this year.

In total, the whisky market was worth just over US$10bn in the latest 52-week period to 6 November 2021, slightly ahead of vodka at US$9.6bn. CGA said the difference reflects the whisky category’s slightly higher price point.

CGA’s On-Premise Measurement (OPM) research in the States showed whisky sales are now equal with vodka in volume terms, with each holding a 26% share of sales.

In the latest quarter, whisky sales climbed by 98% year-on-year, compared with 93% growth for vodka. However, CGA noted that these numbers are inflated due to the on-trade’s weak performance in the equivalent pandemic-affected quarter of 2020.

American whiskey continues to be the leading whisky subcategory, with 53% of total sales. It was followed by Canadian whisky (24% share), Irish (17%), Scotch (6%) and Japanese whisky (0.3%).

CGA said the dominance of American and Canadian bottlings highlighted the ‘enduring appeal of domestic brands’.

Whisky was also found to be more popular in cities such as Chicago, Dallas and Denver.

CGA’s On-Premise User Survey (Opus) found more than half (59%) of whisky consumers drink outside of their homes on a weekly basis.

Whisky drinkers also tend to have more money, with the average household income at US$95,000 a year, nearly a fifth more than the US average of US$79,000, CGA noted.

Furthermore, men make up 62% of all whisky drinkers, CGA found.

Whisky is also the US’s third most popular base for cocktails, with vodka in second place and Tequila in the top spot.

CGA noted that the value velocity of the Old Fashioned cocktail surpassed 2019 levels for most of 2021, while Whisky Sours did the same every single week of the year.

Tequila experienced the largest volume increase of all spirits categories in the US on-trade in 2021, climbing by 54%, according to CGA data.

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