Fancy Tipples Deliver Record Year for American Liquor Industry

February 1, 2018, 8:18 PM UTC

During its annual economic briefing report, The Distilled Spirits Council announced record sales in spirits for 2017, and a continued market share gain against beer.

Sales were up for the eighth consecutive year. Overall, supplier sales were up 4% in 2017, rising $1 billion from 2016 to a total of $26.2 billion. Sales volume increased 2.6% to 226 million cases in 2017, up from 5.8 million cases in 2016.

“The spirits sector had a banner year in 2017, driven by consumer confidence in the U.S. economy, product innovations that adult consumers want, and a fascination with premiumization across categories,” Council President & CEO Kraig R. Naasz said in a statement. “The U.S. distilled spirits market is the second most valuable in the world, and we continue to promote consumer-friendly policies that expand responsible access to our products.”

The biggest area of growth in 2017 was high-end spirits. Key drivers of growth included American whiskey, up 8.1 percent or $252 million to $3.4 billion; Tequila, up 9.9 percent or $246 million to $2.7 billion; Cognac, up 13.8 percent or $200 million to $1.6 billion; and Irish Whiskey, up 12.8 percent or $114.8 million to $897 million.

Vodka is still the sector’s largest category, representing a third of all sales in volume. It was up 2.2% in volume in 2017 with revenues up 3% to $6.2 billion.

David Ozgo, Chief Economist for the Spirits Council, attributes the growth of high-end spirits in part to millennial shoppers whom he says “continue to gravitate toward high-end and super-premium spirits products.”