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Spirits sales hit record first in US

For the first time spirits took the lead revenue share of alcoholic beverage sales in the US in 2022, the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus) has revealed.

High-end Tequila is in demand in the US

Discus said spirits supplier sales in the US rose by 5.1% in 2022 to reach a record US$37.6 billion. Volume sales grew by 4.8% to 305 million nine-litre cases.

The results marked the 13th consecutive year that spirits grew its market share of the total US beverage alcohol sector.

Spirits supplier sales rose by 0.8 share points to 42.1%, with each point equal to US$890m in supplier revenue. This is the first time the category has surpassed beer, which holds 41.9% market share.

“Year after year, the spirits sector has slowly gained market share by staying focused on our consumers, delivering innovative, high-end products, and advocating to level the playing field for spirits, beer and wine products in the marketplace and legislative arena,” said Chris Swonger, Discus president and CEO.

During a Discus media briefing yesterday (9 February), Christine LoCascio, Discus chief of public policy and strategy, attributed the distilled sector’s success to three key drivers: premiumisation – particularly in American whiskey and Tequila; spirits-based ready-to-drinks (RTDs); and the ongoing recovery of the on-trade.

Tequila overtook American whiskey to become the second biggest-selling spirit category by value in 2022, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, which expects the category to topple vodka from the top spot in 2023.

Discus noted the top five spirits categories by revenue between 2021-2022 were: vodka (US$7.2bn, down 0.3%), Tequila and mezcal (US$6.0bn, up by 17.2%), American whiskey (US$5.1bn, up by 10.5%), brandy and Cognac (US$3.1bn, down by 12.3%), and cordials (US$2.9bn, up by 2.6%).

American whiskey is the third most valuable category in the US

The top five categories by volume during the same period, in million nine-litre-case sales, were: vodka (76.9m, down by 1.5%), cocktails and RTDs (50.3m, up by 37.4%), American whiskey (31.2m, up by 5.2%), Tequila and mezcal (29.9m, up by 11.5%), and rum (24.1m, down by 2.8%).

Premiumisation slows overall

LoCascio noted that the overall premiumisation trend slowed in 2022 due to the softening of the economy, but remained strong thanks to demand for high-end American whiskey, Tequila and mezcal.

She said: “More than 60% of the spirits sector’s total revenue was from sales of high-end and super-premium spirits, mainly led by Tequila and American whiskey.

“While many consumers are feeling the pinch from inflation and reduced disposable income, they are still willing to purchase that special bottle of spirits choosing to sip a little luxury and drink better, not more.”

LoCascio also highlighted that spirits-based RTDs comprise a small ‘but growing’ portion of the overall market, accounting for 13% of the total RTD market volume in 2022 – up from 8% in 2021.

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