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World Spirits Report 2023: Liqueurs & speciality spirits

This year has seen ups and downs for liqueurs, with some brands benefitting from a continued interest in at-home bartending, and others struggling to make their mark.

liqueurs and speciality spirits

As a whole, though, the category is still growing, according to data from Euromonitor International. Liqueur sales by volume for 2023 are expected to end at 131.9 million nine-litre cases, up from 128.5m in 2022. Meanwhile, by value, 2023 forecast figures are estimated to reach US$48.2m, up from US$46m the previous year.

In terms of positives, Craig van Niekerk, vice-president of marketing for Malibu and Kahlúa, explains that the trend for at-home bartending, which generally took off during the Covid-19 pandemic, continues to be huge. “This desire to entertain guests at home has surged in the US by 25%, and 20% of young adults worldwide are eager to enhance their skills in at-home mixology,” he explains.

Licor 43’s global brand director, Oliver Svatek, echoes this: “There is huge demand for exciting yet simple cocktails that consumers can replicate at home. And liqueurs are a perfect ingredient in many of these cocktails.”

Van Niekerk adds: “With this increase in experimentation, consumers are trying new things and being a bit braver in terms of what they would do.” He cites a TikTok trend that saw one bartender mix orange juice and Kahlúa to create a cocktail that – allegedly – tasted like the US Tootsie Roll sweet.

But Svatek points out that the global cost-of-living crisis is having an impact: “The reduced disposable household income – due to rising prices and interest rates – has led to consumers downtrading, going out less, and buying premium liqueurs and spirits in general less frequently.”

This is unlikely to change in 2024. “To manage short-term volumes, promotion and pricing will play a bigger role in our category,” explains Svatek. “We might expect a slower innovation pace than in previous years – as these products are usually higher priced than original variants – and some brand owners will even look at their portfolio and try to make them leaner.”

Another challenge that Van Niekerk expects in the new year is the proliferation of celebrity-owned spirits brands. “Kahlúa has been around for almost 100 years, building on that craft, expertise, and knowledge,” he says. “The question is: how much do consumers value, provenance, quality, and craftsmanship, over the badge factor from a celebrity point of view?”

While celebrities have this year delved into gin, vodka, Tequila and whisky, there haven’t been many high-profile liqueur launches – 2024 could well be the year this changes.

Click here to read our World Spirits Report for the Cognac & brandy category.

Brands to watch in 2024

O’Donnell Moonshine

O’Donnell Moonshine won two Master awards at The Liqueur Masters 2023, and its Wild Berry flavour was given the ultimate award of Taste Master. Last year, the brand’s CEO appeared on UK TV show Dragons’ Den but didn’t secure a deal – however the business has gone from strength to strength since, and we’re expecting big things in 2024.

Grand Marnier

In recent years, Grand Marnier has struggled to stand out in Campari Group’s portfolio, but big changes at its parent company could renew interest in the orange-flavoured Cognac-based liqueur. The brand is now out to own the Margarita category, with its managing director recently saying he has plans to make Grand Marnier a “destination drink”.


One of this year’s biggest stories was Nolet Group’s purchase of Lucas Bols – which followed the latter’s acquisition of Nuvo liqueur. Nolet Group said the move would help to accelerate its growth strategy, which could spell big things for Nuvo, a pink sparkling liqueur made with French vodka and sparkling wine.

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